Winning recipes in annual holiday cookie contest


Winning recipes in annual holiday cookie contest

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Thanksgiving Day, marks the official kickoff of the holiday season. The holiday season is full of tradition — and is the perfect time to celebrate traditions that span decades or create new ones.

What better way to kick off the holiday season than with a classic holiday tradition — cookie baking. Today, we share with readers the results of the Dayton Daily News annual holiday cookie contest.

The contest, held on Monday, Nov. 12, attracted entries from bakers throughout the local area, who each delivered one dozen of their favorite cookies to the newspaper’s South Main Street office.

This year’s judges were: Jane A. Black, associate director of The Dayton Art Institute; Bryan Bucklew, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association; State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood; Michelle Fong, Cox Media Group Ohio’s lifestyle and entertainment editor; and Arundi Venkayya, Dayton Daily News community news editor.

Entries were split into two groups, each with its own set of judges, and then five semifinalists were chosen. The full panel of judges then chose and ranked four finalists, based on flavor and appearance.

“It’s such a good opportunity to showcase the many talents of our readers,” Venkayya said. “As always, we’re grateful to everyone who submitted a recipe. … You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to participate in the contest. It’s all about just getting fun recipes that we can share with our readers.”

This year’s top cookie trends? Bar and sandwich cookies.

Here are the four winning recipes. Thank you to all of those who entered our contest, and congratulations to the winners, who each received a grocery-store gift card. Let these recipes inspire you to create new memories in the kitchen with your friends and loved ones.

Susette Kruckeberg, Versailles

  • Baker’s comment: “I think it’s a nice honor to have my cookies chosen. … I think one of the reasons it makes a nice Christmas cookie is because it’s red and green with the green pistachios and the red, dried cranberries. I think that makes it more festive,” Susette Kruckeberg said.
  • Judge’s comment: “It’s dense and chewy and delicious,” Jane A. Black said.


Makes 60 cookies


For dough

  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons of butter
  • 1¾ cups of all-purpose flour

For topping

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1¼ cups of packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup of honey
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • 2 cups of chopped pecans
  • 1 cup of pistachio meats
  • 1 cup of dried, chopped cranberries


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a 9-by-13 inch pan with foil.
  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend the sugar and 12 tablespoons of butter until creamy.
  • Mix in flour on low speed until well combined.
  • Press the mixture — it will be crumbly — into the prepared pan. Prick all over with a fork; then, bake for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool, but leave oven on.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, bring the butter, sugar, honey and cream to a boil. Simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture reads 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
  • Stir in pecans, pistachios and cranberries.
  • Pour the mixture over baked crust; then, bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the mixture is bubbly all over. Let cool completely.
  • Use foil to lift the entire slab from the pan. Cut into bars.


Laura Haber, Miamisburg

  • Baker’s comment: “My mother won the contest two years ago, and so I decided to enter, and it’s nice to have placed. … I love pumpkin. Anything (with) pumpkin spice really turns my head, and I think really this time of year, it makes (people) feel warm,” Laura Haber said.
  • Judge’s comment: “It’s a perfect transition from the fall season to the holiday season,” Bryan Bucklew said.


A medium ice cream scoop makes 18 cookies. A small ice cream scoop makes 24 cookies.


For cookie

  • 1½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 cup of firmly-packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 cups of canned pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs

For filling

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup of canned pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract


  • Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.
  • In another large bowl, beat the sugars, oil, pumpkin and eggs together until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until well incorporated.
  • Refrigerate for 10 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Using a medium size ice cream scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheet two inches apart. Bake 17 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the whoopie pies comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
  • While the whoopie pies are cooling, make the filling. With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, pumpkin, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat the mixture until smooth.
  • When the pumpkin whoopie pies are cooled, spoon about two tablespoons of the filling onto the center of one whoopie pie. Top with another whoopie pie (flat side down) to make a sandwich.
  • Refrigerate the whoopie pies until ready to serve.
  • The cookies freeze well if wrapped separately in plastic wrap.


Vikki Cabaniss, Miamisburg

  • Baker’s comment: “I tried (entering) last year for the first time, and I thought I’d try again this year. … The original recipe calls for all red (cherries), but I decided to use half green, half red. It looked very holiday. … My daughter won a few years ago. She made raspberry bars,” Vikki Cabaniss said.
  • Judge’s comment: “Strong and original flavor,” State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, said.


Makes 12 large cookies


  • 2¼ cups of white flour
  • ½ cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of soft butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla
  • 12 ounces of red or green (or both) cherries; Drain, but save juice for icing.
  • ½ cup of chopped walnuts (Optional. The submitted recipe included them.
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix flour with sugar and butter until crumbly.
  • Press into a lightly greased nine by 13 inch pan. Bake 20 minutes.
  • Blend eggs, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and vanilla. Stir in cherries and walnuts (if desired). Pour on top of crust. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Cool, then frost frosting: 1 tablespoon of soft butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Add a little bit of cherry juice until desired consistency. Place into a baggie, cut off corner and squeeze onto cookies in a drizzle.


Karen Harmon, Washington Township

  • Baker’s comment: “I think contests are a great experience to not only see fresh and new ideas from other people but to challenge yourself. … To me, it (the recipe) reminds me very much of a childhood favorite junk food of mine, which were Susie Q’s. To me, it’s a new and updated childhood favorite junk food,” Harmon said.
  • Judge’s comment: “It’s like eating a chocolate and peppermint cloud,” Bryan Bucklew said.



For cookie

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 4 ounces of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of milk, any variety except skim
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

For filling

  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 7 ounces of marshmallow creme
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons of shortening
  • 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Red food coloring to make pink


  • Cream the sugar, butter, vanilla and egg together.
  • Add the milk. It will look curdled, but it’s OK.
  • Add the dry ingredients until combined. It will look like a thick cake batter or icing mixture. Drop a tablespoon full on a parchment lined sheet pan, spaced about two inches apart.
  • Bake at 375 degrees F for seven to nine minutes.
  • Cool one minute; then, remove and cool completely on a rack.
  • Put the filling in a piping bag, and place on the bottom of one cookie; then, top with another cookie.
  • You can roll in crushed candy canes to coat the sides, or leave plain.
  • Variations: If filling is too thick, add a bit of milk. Also, you could add peppermint extract to the filling instead of the crushed canes.
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