Journal-World reveals holiday cookie contest winners

Top recipes include drop, bar, shaped and no-bake treats

Frosted Ginger Cookies from Kathy Barker, Lawrence, won first place in the shape cookies category in the Journal-World's 2012 holiday cookie contest.

Frosted Ginger Cookies from Kathy Barker, Lawrence, won first place in the shape cookies category in the Journal-World's 2012 holiday cookie contest.

The holidays are here, and that means everyone is ready to shop for wonderful gifts and bake great tasting treats for family and friends.

With help from Hy-Vee and Robert’s Dairy, the Journal-World advertising staff put together a cookie contest to find the best recipes in town.

The contest attracted more than 130 entries from Journal-World readers in the categories of drop, bar, shape and no-bake cookies. Hy-Vee’s baking staff reviewed the recipes and chose 20 (five from each category) to whip up, following each recipe to the letter. The team of bakers — Mike Burghart, Larry Reed and Shelly Lara — started baking at 3 a.m. and finished in time for judging at 10 a.m.

It was a tough job, but five judges — Andrew Yochum and Marty Streit from Hy-Vee and Journal-World advertising employees Colleen Brady, Ashley Shepard and Kathleen Johnson — took on the challenge of sampling the cookies (with milk, of course). The cookie with the highest scores in each category were named the winners.

The Journal-World hopes you enjoy these recipes with your family and friends and wishes you the tastiest holiday season!

photo

Jason Dailey

Half-Marathon Cookies from Lisa Ball, Lawrence, won first place in the drop cookie category in the Journal-World's 2012 holiday cookie contest.

Half-Marathon Cookies

From Lisa Ball, Lawrence

(Drop Cookies — First Place)

Lisa is lactose-intolerant and she has many friends who are health-conscious, so she is always on the lookout for great dairy-free cookies. She adapted this recipe to fit her needs and introduced it to friends after they ran the first half marathon. It was a hit! Her friends suggested these sweet and salty cookies would be great for the holidays. And they're right, this was one of the judges’ favorite cookies.

1 cup old fashioned oats

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch nutmeg

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl mix together the first six ingredients (the oats through the salt). Stir in the maple syrup, oil, vanilla and spices. Then combine the cherries, pepitas and coconut. Use your hands to shape dough into tablespoon sized balls. Place balls onto a prepared cookie sheet, spaced 2 inches apart, and slightly flatten the balls with your hands. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until tops are slightly golden. Let cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 12 cookies.

photo

Jason Dailey

Pumpkin Crunch Cookies from Barb Starrett, Lawrence, won second place in the drop cookie category in the Journal-World's 2012 holiday cookie contest.

Pumpkin Crunch Cookies

Barb Starrett, Lawrence

(Drop Cookies — Second Place)

2/3 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1⁄2 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin

1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla

6 ounces sour cream or plain Greek Yogurt

2 cups old fashioned oatmeal, blended

1 1⁄2 cups flour

1 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice

1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1⁄2 cup turbinado sugar for rolling before baking

Beat butter, brown sugar and egg at medium speed until creamy. Add pumpkin and vanilla, beating until blended. Place measured oatmeal in a food processor and pulse to make a fine powder. Mix together blended oatmeal, flour baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients and Greek yogurt alternately to the butter mixture. Cover bowl and chill one hour. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in turbinado sugar. Place balls one inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 F for 9-10 minutes. Switch cookie sheet to higher or lower oven rack for an additional 9-10 minutes until firm. Remove and cool cookies on wire rack. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

photo

Jason Dailey

Cranberry Bar Cookies from Doralee Rogier, Lawrence, won first place in the bar cookie category in the Journal-World's 2012 holiday cookie contest.

Cranberry Bar Cookies

Doralee Rogier, Lawrence

(Bar Cookies — First Place)

Once Doralee tasted this cranberry delight she knew she had to have it. So her sister-in-law gave her the recipe, and since then it has been a requested favorite of family and friends.

For cookies:

1 cup of margarine, melted

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries, washed and drained

1 1/2 cups walnuts

For topping:

2 cups powdered sugar

Splash of milk

4 teaspoons almond extract

Mix margarine, flour, sugar, eggs and 2 teaspoons almond extract together in a large bowl. Pat mixture into a 9-by-12-inch pan. Place cranberries on top. Add walnuts. (To make a crunchier bar, add 2-3 cups of walnuts.) Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. While still warm, mix together topping ingredients and drizzle over bars.

photo

Jason Dailey

Chocolate Mint Bars from Mary Lou Reardon, Lawrence, won second place in the bar cookie category in the Journal-World's 2012 holiday cookie contest.

Chocolate Mint Bars

Mary Lou Reardon, Lawrence

(Bar Cookies — Second Place)

For bars:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 16-ounce can chocolate syrup

1 cup sugar

For mint filling:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon mint extract

3 drops green food coloring

1 tablespoon water

For topping:

1 package mint chocolate chips

1/2 cup butter

Mix bar ingredients together. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Bake in greased 9-by13-inch pan for 30 minutes at 350 F. Top will look moist. Mix filling ingredients together and spread over cooled baked bars. Melt topping ingredients in double boiler. Cool for 30 minutes or until lukewarm, stirring occasionally. Spread on top of mint filling. Keep refrigerated until served. Slice into bar portions.

photo

Jason Dailey

Frosted Ginger Cookies from Kathy Barker, Lawrence, won first place in the shape cookies category in the Journal-World's 2012 holiday cookie contest.

Frosted Ginger Cookies

Kathy Barker, Lawrence

(Shape Cookies — First Place)

Kathy told us this is one of her family’s favorite cookies and that it's hard to get them frosted before they are eaten. We know what she means — many of the Journal-World staffers enjoyed these tasty treats!

1 Cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling

3/4 cup butter or margarine, room temperature

1 egg

3 tablespoons molasses

2 cups flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, cream 1 cup granulated sugar with butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and molasses. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and spices. Add to butter mixture and blend well. Fill a shallow bowl with granulated sugar. Break off walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll into balls, roll balls in sugar. Arrange on greased cookie sheet (or cookie sheet covered with parchment paper) and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to cooking racks. For the glaze, combine powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon water and stir until smooth, then stir in lemon juice. Drizzle over cookies.

photo

Jason Dailey

Greek Crescent Cookies from Mary Ann Kieffer, Lawrence, won second place in the shaped cookies category in the Journal-World's 2012 holiday cookie contest.

Greek Crescent Cookies

Mary Ann Kieffer, Lawrence

(Shape Cookies — Second Place)

1 cup margarine, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons brandy

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups flour

Powdered sugar

Mix melted margarine and 1⁄2 cup powdered sugar together. Then add egg yolk, brandy and almond extract. Stir in flour. Shape dough by teaspoonful’s into crescent shapes. Place about 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F until light brown on bottom. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cool. Makes about 48 cookies.

photo

Jason Dailey

Kandy Fun Kakes from Linda Kendrick, Tonganoxie, won first place in the no-bake category in the Journal-World's 2012 holiday cookie contest.

Kandy Fun Kakes

Linda Kendrick, Tonganoxie

(No-Bake Cookies — First Place)

Linda says, “This recipe is very simple and very good.” It’s one of her favorites to make for the holidays and special gatherings. You’ll enjoy this easy-to-make scrumptious delight!

1⁄2 cup unsalted butter

4 cups mini marshmallows

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups crisp rice cereal

3⁄4 cup butterscotch caramel fudge topping

12 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. In large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until blended. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Stir in the cereal and mix thoroughly until well blended. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. With lightly buttered hands, press gently on the mixture to level. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, warm the butterscotch caramel fudge topping to lukewarm, do not let it get too hot. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Pour the warm butterscotch topping over the cereal layer, spreading evenly. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate until just melted. Spread over top of caramel mixture. Chill to set the chocolate. Cut into squares. Makes 16 squares.

photo

Jason Dailey

Peanut Butter Bars from Mary Ann Kieffer, Lawrence, won second place in the no-bake category in the Journal-World's 2012 holiday cookie contest.

Peanut Butter Bars

Mary Ann Kieffer, Lawrence

(No-Bake Cookies — Second Place)

4 tablespoons margarine

1 1/3 cups creamy peanut butter, divided

1⁄2 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup brown sugar

7 large Shredded Wheat biscuits, crumbled (4 cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted

Sprinkle of sea salt

Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with foil. Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup peanut butter then the corn syrup and brown sugar, mix until smooth. Stir in vanilla and crumbled Shredded Wheat and mix until the wheat is completely coated with peanut butter mixture. Pour this into the lined pan and pat down until smooth. Spread top with remaining 1/3 cup of peanut butter. Melt chocolate in microwave, being careful not to burn, with 10-20 second intervals, or use a double boiler. Smooth melted chocolate over the peanut butter. Sprinkle with sea salt. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Cut into 16 bars.

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