Holiday Cookie Winners 2012

The best cookies of the year, for 2012

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Once again it was a tough decision, but I enlisted the help of several judges, including a professional baker. We loved many, liked even more, and threw out a few stinkers (as well as a couple of “borrowed” recipes).  You can see all the recipes below, or just go to for ALL the recipes from 2008-2012.

Here is the breakdown for 2012

Overall Winner 2012: Sugar and Spice Cookie
Though it wasn’t the flashiest, it was just a great holiday cookie that’s simple to make, has simple ingredients and best of all, holds up well over a few days. We love that Amy ditched the shortening and make it work with butter.  Amy wins bragging rights and a $100 gift certificate to Sur La Table.

– Best Chocolate: Nutella
The hazelnut spread really added a richness to your usual chocolate cookie.

– Best Gluten Free (TIE): Cranberry Orange AND Oatmeal Raisinet
We had to declare a tie in this emerging category. The cranberry orange cookies are a light, cakey cookie that use a lot of unusual ingredients (if you aren’t a gluten-free baker) and also happen to be vegan, for folks with dietary restrictions. The crispy, crunchy Oatmeal Raisinet cookies use GF oatmeal, but  the other ingredients are standard.

– Most Unusual: Peanut Butter Bacon
We ended up referring to this as the Elvis Cookie. Our professional baker kept coming back to this one, really loving it. Our only suggestion for changes might include candy-ing the bacon for a crispier crunch!

– Best Fruit: Cornberry
The jury was VERY mixed on this one, but I personally loved these. You kind of either love cornmeal or you don’t. I made them extra toothy by using a local cornmeal that was very roughly ground and a locally-grown wheat. It’s worth trying these out if you’re a cornbread muffin fan.

Best Shortbread: Matcha Shortbread
Every year, I vote for shortbread recipes to win. It’s a personal bias (which is why I always get a second opinion). The Matcha tea makes for a unique flavor that’s not for everyone — especially kids, who all hated this one. But I liked the slightly astringent, green tea flavor of these grown up cookies. I also really, really loved the Hot Chip Shortbread, especially right out of the oven. Shortbreads don’t keep well, however, and after a day or so, I think they lose a lot of their charm.

Best Standard: Betty’s Chocolate Chip
Sometimes really great cookies get a bit overlooked because they’re such classics. We love the novelty of something different. But my own family *insisted* we give a shout out to these, mostly since they all got to eat them directly out of the oven. Still warm and gooey. This is the BEST chocolate chip recipe I’ve ever made, and you’ll get plenty of ooohs and ahhs if you bake these up fresh for friends.

Hey, why wasn’t my cookie included? 
It can be disappointing not to see your cookie included, but with more than 60 entries, it just isn’t possible for one person (namely me) to test them all. My process is to print out every recipe, and then suss out the ones I really want to try. Sometimes I toss out recipes for the mere fact that we’ve already done something very similar in past years (unless it is a classic like a chocolate chip or molasses cookie). I also exclude recipes that have really complicated ingredients, if they won’t keep well, if they include too many “processed” ingredients (like cake mixes or margarine) or they aren’t really cookies, but a dessert (ie: I loved the baklava recipe, but it didn’t really fit the category). Finally, I may have tested your recipe and found it either didn’t work, I couldn’t find an ingredient (yeast cakes, where does one get those?) or the cookies didn’t turn out well enough to photograph (which was a problem with one delicious recipe that just ended up looking appalling). Try again next year!