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Cookie Contest Winners

With everyone so busy during the holidays, setting up a cookie exchange is a way for you to have a dozen or more cookies while only baking one. Set a date, invite family and friends to make a few dozen of their favorite homemade cookie recipe, and then meet and swap cookies.

We invited readers to submit their favorite cookie recipe and we received 299 entries. The staff of Kentucky Living reviewed each recipe, choosing 30 based on their appeal. This was no easy task, because all the cookies sounded great.

Then 30 staff members of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, our magazine publisher, pulled a recipe at random and baked two dozen cookies for a cookie contest. They formed into three teams of judges to taste at least 15 cookies (some brave souls chose to taste the full 30, although they were found lying down on the couch later, unable to get up).

Here are the yummy results of the top 10 cookies, including the four winning recipes.

Voted Grand Prize/Best Overall Cookie


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2-1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and eggs, set aside. Combine dry ingredients by whisking them together in a large bowl until well-incorporated. Add the flour mixture gradually to creamed butter mixture, beating until dough is blended and smooth.

Roll into 1-1/2-inch balls. Roll the dough balls in additional granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on Reynolds Wrap Release covered cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Store in tightly covered container to maintain softness. Makes 4 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Janie Warren
Grayson RECC

“These cookies are my family’s favorite. My great-grandma Hazel used to serve her version to our family for more than 50 years. I tweaked her recipe to become our new Christmas cookie. The crisp sugary coating makes a delectable iridescent adornment to these little coffee companions.”

What the judges liked about this cookie: It was chewy, crispy, sweet, and soft all at the same time–what a perfect cookie should be–and bakes beautifully.

First Runner Up


1 can Eagle Brand milk
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped pecans
1-1/2 stacks Ritz crackers
1 stick margarine, softened

Combine milk, pecans, and dates. Cook over very low heat until mixture thickens (15-20 minutes). Let cool. Put spoonful on Ritz crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Let cool.

(Makes enough for 2 batches)

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 lb. powdered sugar

Mix cream cheese, margarine, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Put on top of date mixture. Refrigerate to set up frosting. Makes 5 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Ruby Byrd
Hickman-Fulton RECC

“I really like this cookie recipe because you get a sweet and salty taste together.”

Second Place


1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 pkg. Betty Crocker white cake mix

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box powdered sugar

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla, and half the dry cake mix until smooth. Stir in remaining cake mix. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake–cookies will be soft and light colored. Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet. When cool, frost with Cream Cheese Icing.

To prepare icing, mix ingredients well, then whip until fluffy. (This makes enough icing to generously frost two batches of the cookie recipe.) Makes 3-1/2 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Wini Moran
Cumberland Valley Electric

“Our family loves these cookies–from great-grandparents down to the youngest child. The recipe came from my aunt in Ohio, and my mother-in-law bakes them every Christmas. They disappear fast. She even made them for a special friend’s wedding. They are so creamy and delicious, and just the right size for a perfect bite. For a festive twist, add red or green food coloring to the icing.”

Third Place


1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake at 325 degrees for 8 minutes or until brown around edges. Makes 2 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Wilma Diane Gray
Cumberland Valley Electric

“This is my favorite recipe because it’s very quick and very easy, and it fits into our busy schedules of working moms. Everyone I serve them to loves the delicious taste of peanut butter and they are also very crunchy. Most of all, it�s a no-fail recipe.”


Receives the Judges’ Ooooh-aahh-ahh Award
Delightful! They look like tiny mice when finished.

24 double-stuffed Oreos
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons shortening
24 red maraschino cherries with stem, well-drained
24 milk chocolate Hershey’s Kisses
48 sliced almonds
1 tube red decorative gel

Carefully twist cookies apart. Set aside the halves with cream filling. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening. Stir until smooth.

Holding each cherry by the stem, dip in melted chocolate. Press onto the bottom of a chocolate kiss so that the stem extends straight out or slightly upward (that’s his tail). Place chocolate kiss angled sideways onto the cream filling of cookie, with cherry stem extending beyond cookie edge.

For ears, place slivered almonds between the cherry and kiss. Refrigerate until set. With red gel, pipe eyes (and mouth if you wish) into each chocolate kiss. Makes 2 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Justin Rowe(age 9)
Big Sandy RECC

“My favorite part of the Christmas Eve Cookies is the chocolate-covered cherry for the body. I also like the Hershey’s Kiss used for the head. The eyes and mouth are decorating gel. The almonds for the ears are delicious. An Oreo cookie holds it all together.”


2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1 stick margarine or butter
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 Tablespoons margarine or butter
4 Tablespoons milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Cream sugar, margarine or butter, add egg, pumpkin, and vanilla, mix well. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and combine. Drop by teaspoon onto greased sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool. Makes 4 dozen.

For frosting, boil margarine or butter, milk, and brown sugar for 2 minutes. Let cool and add sifted powdered sugar and vanilla. Will be thin but will thicken as it cools on cookies.

Recipe submitted by Nancy Haire
Owen Electric Cooperative

“A friend gave me this recipe years ago and it quickly became a family favorite, full of nostalgic memories of fall and winter holidays, yet perfect for any time of year. These delicious treats fill the house with warm spicy smells, stay nice and soft, and even freeze well for busy holiday times.”


1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 squares white baking chocolate, chopped
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
2 cups dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Stir in chocolate, pecans, and cranberries.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 1-1/2″ apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 3 minutes, remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly in container. Makes 3 dozen.

Variation: Try white chocolate chips to make for a little easier preparation. Cherry flavored Craisins also make for a different flavor.

Recipe submitted by Kristie Cox
Salt River Electric

“This recipe has been a holiday favorite at my house for the past couple of years. Kringles are so rich and good that you can’t just eat one. They have rich white chocolate with nuts and Craisins too. My sister and her husband always ask if I am bringing Kringles on Christmas Day to my mother’s house.”


1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour

1/2 lb. dates
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts

To make filling, bring dates, water, and sugar to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. When slightly cool, add nuts.

For cookies, cream margarine, sugars, and egg together. Mix dry ingredients together and add to creamed ingredients to form dough. (If dough is too dry, add a few drops of water at a time.) Roll out between wax paper to 8×10 inches. Spread filling on dough and roll up like jelly roll. Wrap in wax paper and put in refrigerator. When cool, cut 1/4-inch slices off ends. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Jimmie L. Crick
West Kentucky RECC

“I like this recipe because you can keep it in the refrigerator and slice off as much as you need. The unused portion keeps well until you are ready to use it. My family really enjoys this cookie.”


2 lbs. white almond bark, melted
(or use white chocolate bark with almond extract)
1-1/2 cups peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
2-1/4 cups unsalted peanuts
3 cups Rice Krispies
2-1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Mix peanut butter, nuts, Rice Krispies, and marshmallows together. Add melted chocolate. Stir and spoon onto wax paper to set up. Store in tin cans or gallon freezer bags; will keep for a long time. Makes 5 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Harlene Abell
Inter-County Energy Cooperative

“I submitted this recipe because it is simple for women who work today. It only takes about 10-15 minutes from start to finish. It is really a good little cookie to take to parties for the holidays.”


1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 egg

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup Heath Bits o’ Brickle baking chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13×9-inch pan. In large bowl, combine cake mix, margarine, and egg. Mix at highest speed until crumbly. Press into prepared pan.

In small bowl, beat milk, egg, and vanilla until blended. Stir in pecans and Bits o’ Brickle chips. Pour over base in pan, spread to cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until light golden brown. Center may appear loose but will set upon cooling. Allow bars to cool completely before cutting. Makes 3 dozen.

Recipe submitted by Burna McClain

“An all-around good bar cookie for sharing and at-home eating. The combination of yellow cake with toffee and pecans wakens the taste buds with anticipation. Now that my husband and I are the only ones home, they don’t last long.”


For more cookie recipes and tips on how to organize your own cookie exchange, go to More cookie exchange recipes.

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