There was plenty of snow this weekend to make things a pain in the tookis to get around, but you best believe that didn’t stop Marcia Selden Catering, Winston Flowers, OmNomCT, a select crew of judges, 8 talented bakers, and a huge crowd of tasters from hitting up the 1st Annual Ultimate Holiday Cookie Contest! This is true devotion, you know? Nor rain, nor sleet, nor snow storm can stop voracious cookie enthusiasts.
When we arrived, Winston Flowers (already a beautiful shop in downtown Greenwich) was decorated so festively. We met up with Nicole Straight and Robin Selden of Marcia Selden Catering and immediately went into the back room to meet the judges. Chef Plum of Plum Luv Foods, Robin Selden from Marcia Selden Catering, Lisa Maronian from Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes, and John Barricelli from SoNo Baking Company were all ready to eat the cookies set upon the judging plates. But, they couldn’t eat quite yet…
We all went back out into the main store room and met lots of people that we had only known on the interwebs: Liz Rueven from Kosher Like Me, Kim Butz from Savory Sweet Eats, and Matt, a fellow Urbanspooner. People had warm cups of cocoa and delicious glasses of cold cider and were eagerly anticipating the start of the party, eyeing the cookies jealously. Nicole Straight started it off by having the contestants introduce their cookies:
- Browned Butter Cookies by Evan Cassidy (a youngster, clocking in at just 15)
- Buckeyes by Lisa Eppley
- Chocolate Chestnut Cranberry Mocha Supremes by Ruth Kalla Ungerer
- Double Chocolate Raspberry Filled Cookies by Melanie Lowe
- Kourambiethes by Joey Kuntz
- Orange Cranberry Pistachio Cookies by Kim Butz
- Peppermint Patties by Marley Garfield (the youngest competitor at age 13)
There was also an additional cookie from one of the original 16 contestants: amazingly detailed Gingerbread Men made from a Russian recipe that had the perfect amount of ginger and spice (and all things nice) to add a lovely kick.
Like it was the Grand Prix, everybody there was off as soon as Nicole told them the party had begun. The cookie monsters were actually quite polite and organized, making sure everybody got in and got their share of cookies. It was all really nice to see…it’s what the holidays are all about. Then, we got our cookies!
There was something about each cookie that we enjoyed, and that’s important to remember because people love all different kinds of cookies. Some like sweet, some like savory, some like buttery, some like chunky, some like crispy, and some like all of those things rolled up into one cookie.
Joey’s Kourambiethes were soft and crumbly and looked beautifully festive and snowy on his platter. Lisa’s Buckeyes had the awesome contrast of chocolate with peanut butter and were John Baricelli’s favorite. The Chocolate Cranberry Chestnut Mocha Supremes by Ruth were bite-size bits of awesomeness with the mocha flavor really coming through. The Double Chocolate Raspberry Filled Cookies by Melanie were moist and fudgy and had a great raspberry undertone. Evan’s Browned Butter Cookies were little bites of heaven and the favorite of many due to their buttery sweetness contrasted with the salty caramel on top. We were also in love with Kim’s Orange Cranberry Pistachio Cookies (and so was Chef Plum) that had a nice tanginess from the orange and cranberry together. And, last up was Marley’s Peppermint Patties that were chocolate cookies with peppermint patties baked inside that people raved about.
Around 3, the judges went in the back and rated each cookie. They came back out and shared what they liked about each cookie and hints to make the cookies even better. We were given the honors of announcing the party-goer who won the Cuisinart 7 cup Food Processor, and then the two big prizes were announced. First, Evan was crowned the winner of the People’s Choice award, taking in an amazing amount of votes from people who viewed his recipe. We’re not kidding when we say that Evan is one talented teenager who has baking in his genes. He took home an autographed copy of a cookbook from John Barricelli, a cookie jar or plate from Juliska, a gift certificate to Sweet Lisa’s Bakery, and a variety pack of Nothing’ But Premium granola bars.
And, then the winner of the Ultimate Holiday Cookie Contest was announced: Marley with her Peppermint Patties Cookies. She was estatic, so amazed that her cookies had taken home the big prize. Everybody there cheered her on and we were so proud of her. Don’t you love it? A 13 year old baker taking home first place? Be on the look out for this girl! She won a Cuisinart Food Processer, an autographed cookbook from John Barricelli, 2 tickets to Chef Plum’s Dinner Underground series, a variety pack of Nothing’ But Premium granola bars, a gift certificate to Sweet Lisa’s, a floral arrangement from Winston Flowers, a cookie jar or plate from Juliska, and a gift certificate for Gourmet to Go from Marcia Selden Catering.
First of all, thank you to everyone for coming out for some cookies and some great holiday cheer! Secondly, thanks to Marcia Selden for everything and for giving us the chance to work with you on this awesome event. Next, we’d like to thank all the sponsors of the awesome prizes: Cuisinart, Nothin’ But Granola, Juliska, Marcia Selden Catering, Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes, SoNo Baking Company, and Plum Luv Foods. Also, we can’t forget the uber-amazing judges Chef Plum, John Barricelli, Lisa Maronian, and Robin Selden. And, finally, it couldn’t be a party unless we had somewhere festive and fun to hold it, so thank you to Winston Flowers!