Just in time for Christmas, EatDrinkIndy.com and WFYI partnered for a holiday cookie contest — with some very tasty results. We accepted a dozen entries and convened a panel of chefs — A. Rene Trevino of Rene’s Bakery, Nicole Ankney Anderson of Four Birds Bakery and Thom England of Ivy Tech Community College — who judged the entries along with WFYI’s Roxanna Caldwell and Don Hibschweiler.
This year’s cookie lineup featured all sorts of flavors — lots of chocolate, plenty of plenty of peppermint and even a bacon-filled pinwheel — but the cookie that wowed the judges was a tangerine almond shortbread cookie submitted by Indy resident Lori Goldsby. Judges appreciated the fresh citrus flavor and the eye-catching glaze of the shortbread bar cookie.
Taking second place was a Fire-Roasted Chestnut Caramel Cookie submitted by Amanda Clark, while a Double Chocolate Chip Fudge Cookie with Candy Cane Buttercream placed third. Kolache Cookies, submitted by Jennifer Cheezum, and Sugar Cream Pie Cookies, submitted by April Richwine, also placed in the top five.
But alll of this year’s entries are definitely worth a spot on any holiday cookie plate!
Tangerine Almond Shortbread Bar Cookies
submitted by Lori Goldsby
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 sticks cold, unsalted butter, diced
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup orange blossom honey
1 1/2 cup extra heavy whipping cream
2 cups toasted sliced almonds
Zest tangerines, juice and chill.
Prepare deep, half-sized baking sheet with foil-backed parchment paper, extending paper up the sides.
Pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt, butter and tangerine zest in a food processor. Add tangerine juice by tablespoon(s) as needed until it looks like wet sand. Pulse just until it starts to form a ball.
Pat the dough into the pan, being careful to press up and into the sides. Chill the crust for one hour (up to 4 hours).
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, honey and 2 tablespoons of the reserved tangerine juice. Allow the sugars and honey to melt together over medium-low heat, swirling gently. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture darkens and caramelizes. Add the cream and increase the heat to medium. Cook the mixture at a low boil for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is richly caramelized and thick.
Stir in the almonds and spread the mixture into the chilled tart pan. Bake for 30 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 bake for another 5-7 minutes, or until the crust is richly browned.
Cool and cut into rectangles or diamond shapes.
Fire-Roasted Chestnut Caramel Cookies
submitted by Amanda Clark
For fire-roasted chestnuts
5 ounces whole peeled chestnuts (about 3/4 cup)
For the fire roasted chestnuts: (Broiler Method) Preheat the broiler on your stove. Slice the chestnuts about 1/4 inch thick and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place under the broiler for 5 minutes. Transfer the chestnuts to a plate and allow to cool fully to room temperature. Rough chop the chestnuts and set aside.
Third PlaceDouble Chocolate Chip Fudge Cookies With Candy Cane Buttercream
Submitted by Kim Robinson
For the cookies:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces semi-sweet bakers chocolate
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 Tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
For the icing:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2.5 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 cup candy cane dust – using a food processor
crushed candy canes for rolling
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stir. Continue to melt in 30 second increments until fully melted and smooth. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla. Set aside. With an electric or stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Beat in the sugars, scraping down the sides every 10 seconds or so. The mixture will be granular.
Mix in the beaten egg/vanilla until incorporated. Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients on slow speed. Fold in the chocolate chips. Do not overmix at any point in this process.
Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop about 1 Tablespoon of dough and roll into a slightly flattened ball. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies have just begun to set with the centers still appearing very soft. They will firm up as they cool.
To make the buttercream frostig, beat the butter for 1 minute with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and slowly mix on low speed. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 1 Tablespoon of milk. Beat for about 1 minute. Manually stir in candy cane dust. If your buttercream needs to be thicker, add more powdered sugar.
Frost the bottom end of a cooled cookie and top with another to make a sandwich.
Dark Chocolate Chunk Peppermint Cookies
Submitted by Megan McClanahan
Submitted by Liz Van Noy
1 cup Mazola margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Karo light corn syrup
2 eggs separated
2 1/2 cups unsifted flour
2 cups finely chopped nuts
Candied cherry halves
Mix margiarineand sugar. Stir in syrup, egg yolks and flour. Chill. Roll into 1-inch balls. Dip into slightly beaten egg whites then nuts. Place on greased baking sheet. Press cherry into center of each cookie. If using icing press thumb in center of cookies prior to baking, then cool and spoon icing into center of cookie. Bake in 325 degree oven 20 minutes. Makes 4 dozen.
Sugar Cream Pie Cookies
Submitted by April Richwine
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nutmeg and cinnamon
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour & baking powder in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well combined.
Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in each cookie with thumb; rotate thumb to hollow out slightly.
Combine all filling ingredients in small bowl; fill each cookie with 1 teaspoon filling. Sprinkle each cookie with nutmeg and cinnamon. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes; transfer to wire racks.
White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Cookies
Cherry Walnut Bars
Submitted by Judy Hill
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, chopped (reserve liquid)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup. coconut (optional)
Mix butter, flour, and ½ cup sugar until crumbly. Press into 9-by-13 inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Blend brown sugar, baking powder, vanilla, salt, and eggs. Stir chopped cherries and walnuts into egg-sugar mixture. Spread over baked crust. Return
to oven and bake for another 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
Combine butter and sugar with enough maraschino cherry juice to make icing of spreading consistency. Spread thinly with icing. Sprinkle with coconut if you wish.
When icing has set, cut into small bars.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Submitted by Nick Murphy
1 cup butter softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
3.4 oz pkg instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs (at room temp)
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 package semi-sweet chocolate mini chips
1 package white chocolate chips (could substitute for more chocolate chips)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda and baking powder.
In mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in pudding mix (dry) and vanilla until blended.
Beat in one egg at a time. Then slowly mix flour mixture into the wet ingredients. If your mixer has a dough hook, use that to stir in both bags of chocolate chips.
Line cookie sheet with parchment, and then use a small ice cream style scoop to scoop cookie dough onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Date, Bacon & Walnut Pinwheel Cookies
Submitted by Joanie Fuson
2 ¼ cup pitted, chopped dates
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
½ cup chopped cooked bacon
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs well beaten
3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
Bring dates, sugar and water to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until thick (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add bacon, nuts and chipotle chile pepper. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Cream sugar and shortening. Add beaten eggs. Mix together flour, salt and baking soda in another bowl; add to sugar-shortening-egg mixture. Mix all together well.
Start with half of the dough; roll out on a floured surface until about ½ inch thick. Spread with half the cooled date mixture. Roll up dough and filling as you would a jelly roll. Repeat with second half of dough. Wrap in foil and chill overnight.
Cut slices ¼ inch thick. Bake on parchment-lined or greased cookie sheets at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Cool.
Submitted by Jennifer Cheezum
8 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespons sugar
2 pounds butter (4 sticks)
4 cups (2 pints) vanilla ice cream
Fresh fruit preserves, choose one flavor or combination (prune, blueberry, cherry, apricot, poppyseed & cheese)
Kolache Dough Instructions
Add flour and sugar to butter or margarine and crumble in pastry blender.
Add ice cream to crumbled mixture and, using dough hooks, work into dough. **(If you don’t have dough hooks, use your hands. Rubber gloves will help cut down the cold temperature from the ice cream.)
When dough is smooth, shape into four balls. Refrigerate dough overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough to about 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Using the rim of a glass dipped in flour, cut out circles. Place on a cookie sheet and make a thumbprint in center of each. Fill thumbprints with 1/2 teaspoon filling, folding sides over. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar when cool
To Make Cheese filling
16 oz. (455 grams) farmer cheese or cream cheese, softened; or 10 ounces (285 grams) farmer cheese and 6 ounces (170 grams) softened cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar or more to taste (3.5 ounces/100 grams)
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp all-purpose flour (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, or ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
In a medium bowl, beat the cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in the yolks, optional flour, and vanilla.
To Make Poppy Seed filling
2 cups poppy seeds
1 cup milk or water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice or 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
In a nut grinder, coffee grinder, food processor, or blender, grind the poppy seeds. Grinding produces a finer texture and better flavor. In a medium saucepan, combine the poppy seeds, milk, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and optional zest. Simmer over a medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Let cool. The topping can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It tastes much better than the canned stuff.
To Make Prune Filling
1 pound pitted prunes or 8 ounces pitted prunes and 8 dried pitted cheries, about 3 cups
2 cups water
About 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice or prune juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
In a bowl or large bottle, pour the water over the prunes and let stand at room temperature for several hours or overnight. In a large saucepan, simmer the prunes and water until very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. To the hot prunes, add the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and optional cloves and mash until smooth. Stir in the reserved cooking liquid. Let cool. The topping can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To Make Apricot Filling
2 cups dried apricots
1 cup orange juice (or 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
1/2 cup granulated sugar, light brown sugar, or honey
1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice or dark rum
In a medium saucepan, simmer the apricots and orange juice over medium heat until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain. In a food processor, puree the apricots with the sugar and lemon juice until smooth. The topping can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To Make Blueberry Filling
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and, if using, cinnamon. Add the blueberries and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened (about 10 minutes). Let cool. (Filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
To Make Cherry Filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cups reserved cherry juice
28 ounces pitted sour cherries
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Stir in the juice. Cook, stirring, over medium heat, until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the cherries. Let cool. (Filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)