THERESA STEINBRUEGGE’S JELLY THUMBPRINT COOKIES
Cream until smooth:
¾ pound butter (3 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
Add and mix well:
2 egg yolks
Blend in one-half cup at a time:
3½ cups flour
Form into balls the size of walnuts and place closely on a lightly greased or parchment covered cookie sheet. Flatten in the center with thumb and fill center with:
Apricot preserves, red currant or other jelly of your choice. Do not fill (or mound) jelly above top of thumbprint or jelly might run over.
Bake at 350º for about 9 min. or until edges are lightly browned.
Optional: Drizzle cookies with icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons half-and-half or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put in a plastic zip bag and cut off just the tip of one corner to drizzle the icing on the cookies. Let icing set.
These cookies keep well up to eight weeks in an airtight container.
Recipe is from Carol Hockaday, with modifications from Edna and Theresa Steinbruegge.
GRETCHEN FARRELL’S BUCKEYE BLISS COOKIES
Makes approximately 36 cookies
For the cookies:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For the garnish:
3/4 cups chopped peanuts
36 mini peanut butter cups, unwrapped and frozen
1 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Unwrap and freeze all mini peanut butter cups for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate. Melt either in microwave or on a stove top until smooth and completely melted. Cool slightly. Combine sugar and butter (or shortening) in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until blended and crumbly. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add salt and vanilla. Reduce mixer to low speed. Add chocolate slowly. Mix until well blended. Stir in flour and baking soda with a spoon until blended completely.
Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Roll the balls in chopped peanuts. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set. Immediately, after you take the cookies out of the oven, press a frozen mini peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie. Cool completely.
Melt the peanut butter chips and drizzle back and forth over the cookies using plastic bag with corner snipped off or an icing bag. Repeat with melted chocolate chips, drizzling in the opposite direction.
Recipe by Maria Baldwin of Mesa, Ariz., and adapted by “Richard in Cincy” from Gail’s recipe swap at epicurious.com.
LAURA HABER’S PECAN TARTS
1 cup all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
1 3-ounce package of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 4-ounce stick of unsalted butter (room temperature)
Mix these 4 ingredients together (I have done this by hand or used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer) and form into 24 balls. Press each one by hand into a tart pan.
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
Mix all together well and place 1 teaspoon into each of the crusts in the tart pan.
Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool 5 minutes before taking out of the pans.
Makes 2 dozen.
This year’s Holiday Cookie Contest offers a lovely lesson in parenting: all three of our 2013 winners have wonderful childhood memories of baking cookies with their mothers. Our third-place winner is actually following in her mother’s footsteps — her mom won our cookie contest two years ago.
“I like to think that winning this in some way honors my mom,” said Kettering resident Theresa Steinbruegge, who earned top prize with her Jelly Thumbprint Cookies. “My mom was always known as a great cookie baker and I can remember helping her from the time I was really little.”
Steinbruegge said she and her mother, who is deceased, were a great team, making all kinds of cookies all year long, but especially around holiday time.
That’s one of the reasons that she chose to submit the Jelly Thumbprints.
“It was a favorite cookie of my mom’s and I would often make them for her for Mother’s Day or other special occasions,” said Steinbruegge.
“She liked to fill them with red current jelly, but apricot preserves are also good. We normally made them together with one of us measuring and one mixing, then one of us rolling and the other putting in the thumbprint and the jelly!”
Other important women in Steinbruegge’s life who she credits for this win include her dear friend Julie Zink, who talked her into entering and delivered the finished cookies to the Dayton Daily News, and Carol Hockaday, a work colleague known for her terrific cooking and baking who brought baked treats into the office on a weekly basis and shared the recipe that turned out to be a winner.
BUCKEYE BLISS COOKIES ARE “RICH, DECADENT”
Second place winner Gretchen Farrell of Kettering has been baking “ever since I can remember.” She earned second place with her Buckeye Bliss Cookies which she describes as “a rich, decadent cookie which is a special treat around the holidays.”
Farrell said her mother is a great cook and baker and their family was always in charge of bringing the cookie platter for their Christmas celebrations.
“I started helping my mom in making Christmas cookies when I was very young,” Farrell remembered. “My sister, brothers and I were always helping to decorate the cookies and we even had our own kids’ cookbooks as children.”
That family tradition continued when she had her own children.
“We have so much fun in the kitchen and I love to see my children’s faces when they bite into a fresh, out-of-the-oven cookies,” she said. “The holidays would not be the same without the smell of fresh baked cookies in my house!”
Farrell typically makes about eight to 10 different kinds of desserts and cookies for the holidays and enjoys giving them out as gifts or making platters to bring to all holiday gatherings and parties.”
“The reason I love to bake is because I love sharing what I have made with family and friends,” she said.
TWO GENERATIONS OF COOKIE CONTEST WINNERS It’s no surprise that Laura Haber of Miamisburg walked away as third-place winner this year; her mother — who is now 80 — won our cookie contest two years ago with her Hungarian Butter Cookies. Last year Haber came in second with her Pumpkin Woopie Pies.
“It’s such an honor to be considered and have our baked goods and recipes shared with everyone,” said Haber, who can’t remember a time when her mother, Jean Schaney, wasn’t in the kitchen sharing her love through food.
Farrell said it wouldn’t be Christmas if she didn’t take the time to make dozens of pecan tarts.
“I press the dough for each one by hand, which can be time-consuming, but that’s what I think makes them special,” said Farrell, who got the recipe in 1977 from “a very nice lady named Mrs. Dexter who used to bring the pecan tarts into Pickrel Bros. Plumbing Supply where I worked at the time.”
JUDGES ARE HAPPY TOO
In his role as Mayor of Kettering, Don Patterson says he’d judged chili and caramel apple contests, holiday floats and Christmas trees, but he’d never been asked to weigh in on a cookie contest.
Patterson was one of three community notables who gathered in a Dayton Daily News conference room to sample 30 dozen freshly baked cookies.
“It’s definitely more fulfilling than the other contests,” said Patterson, who recalled eating the dough as a child when his mom baked in the kitchen.
“Now I prefer sampling to baking,” he said.
Other judges were Springboro City Manager Christine Thompson and Bryan Bucklew, president of the Greater Dayton Hospital Association.
Thompson said she’s definitely “a fan of cookies” who used to bake all kinds of Christmas cookies for the holidays when her kids were little.
“I’m Italian and our favorite was what we called a “meatball cookie”that looks like a chocolate meatball,” she explained.
Bucklew, who has judged our contest in the past, said that he considers himself a professionally-qualified expert.
“I’ve had 44 years of experience of eating cookies,” he said proudly.
Bucklew said the second prize winner’s cookie reminded him of his nine-year-old son: “A little nutty but very sweet.”