I love the Dallas Morning News cookie contest and have followed it for years. The call goes out for submissions in early October and bakers submit recipes in six categories. After the DMN staffers sort through the entries, the stack is whittled down to about 60 cookies. Those bakers are invited to bring the recipes in baked form to submit for final judging. The entry fees go for a great cause and since 1996 when the contest first began, Dallas Morning News Charities has raised more than $30,000 to benefit the hungry and homeless during the holidays.
Each year I have enjoyed reading about the bakers and the origins of their creations. I adore the Cookie Man category which showcases a work of art in pastry form—always clever and so detailed. I’ve also gleaned many a recipe to try for our family cookie platter (I’m especially fond of the Bar category) but have never submitted an entry…as you know, I’m more of a pie girl. However, when offered the opportunity to participate as a Judge for the 2018 Holiday Cookie Contest, I was all over it!! I am certainly a skilled TASTER of cookies!
On November 14, I gathered at Central Market with six other food professionals and a reader judge to taste and analyze, sample and critique, ooh and ahh. This was my first experience judging the contest and I did not realize that I would be responsible for a category all on my own. An enormous responsibility…I would decide the fate for the Beauty entries. These cookies were required to be gorgeous AND delicious. While the cookie man must only be decorative, this category required the entries be edible so, unfortunately, I had to sample each and every one. There were 9 in all.
Each cookie was ranked on a scale of 1 to 10 in three categories for a possible perfect score of 30. It was a close race with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners off by just 1 point each! And although the Beauty winner was not the most intricately designed, it was so delicious that the Peppermint Mocha Santa, submitted by Shalise Quinlan, was hands down the victor for me. This pretty cookie rendition of Santa’s coat tasted like a Peppermint Mocha Latte, thanks to the espresso powder and peppermint baking chips. It was the one cookie that I wanted to eat every morsel but when you have so many to taste, it’s just not possible! (BTW, after we judged our own categories, we went around the room and tried the other judges’ as well! OOF, sugar overload!)
What a fun morning I had, tasting and chatting with the other judges! Here’s a link to the DMN article—Butterfield Gourmet got a brief mention for being one of the judges so that was really nice. Below are a few pictures I snapped from the morning…who knows? One of these beauties may show up on a future menu or holiday shop right here. What’s your vote?