Monday, January 3

And the Grand Prize Winner is...

The Grand Prize Winner was a three-way tie. That could have been a problem--but wasn't--because after all the reading and sorting and sifting and rereading and tasting my top favorites belonged to the same incredible woman...



Paula Marchesi of Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania!

From Paula: "I love to bake and cookies are my specialty. They seem to be perfect for kids of all ages."

Paula, you can come and bake at my house anytime!

Paula's final round story and two fantastic recipes:

"I’ve been stirring up batches of cookies since I was a little girl. The first cookie I ever baked was Nestles Toll House, the famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. They still are my all time favorite and the very first cookies I make during the holidays. My Mom gave me my first cookbook at the tender age of five and with a footstool and an over sized apron I started baking cookies. The following year at Christmas, I told my mom I wanted to bake cookies for school, church, and our neighbors. That year a tradition was started. I baked to my heart’s content and gave every cookie away. The look on everyone’s face when I handed out the cookies was unbelievable. If I close my eyes today, I still see those smiles. The request for more the following year was overwhelming at my age, but I delivered twice as many cookies, that Christmas.

I guess I knew from the beginning that I had the gift of giving and the joy for baking. For over fifty years, I’ve handed out Christmas Cookies to everyone of every age. Even though I enjoy baking all year, Christmas Cookies are the Best. They take us all back in time. They’re the ultimate comfort food and the perfect finger food at this time of year. There’s something about a certain smell, the aroma, or the taste of cookies that triggers special memories in everyone. Today, I add that special little something to every batch I give away that will touch them personally. I feel like an artist, creating the perfect masterpiece. So, YES, you can find the time to bake Holiday Cookies and go back in time."

Cashew & Chocolate Brownie Bars

1 Package 8 or 10-ounce Brownie Mix
½ Cup Quick Cooking Rolled Oats
½ Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 Large Egg
2 to 3 Tbsp. Water
1-1/2Cups Semisweet Chocolate Morsels
1-1/2 Cups Cashew Halves
1Cup Miniature Marshmallows
1 Cup Christmas Peanut M & M’s
1 Can (14oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk

Preheat Oven To 350.

Lightly coat a 13 x 9 x 2 –inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Stir together the brownie mix, oats, graham cracker crumbs, egg, and water in a medium bowl. With floured hands, spread brownie mixture evenly in bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Combine in a medium bowl your chocolate morsels, cashews, mini marshmallows, and M&M’s. Sprinkle evenly over your brownie crust. Top evenly with your sweetened condensed milk. Bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes or till edges are firm or lightly brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Cover and store in refrigerator up to 3-days or freeze up to 1month.

And the truly divine...

Lime Coconut Christmas Cookies
Dough:
1 Cup Butter, softened (no substitutes)
1 Cup Sifted Confectioners’ Sugar
¼ tsp. Salt
2-1/2 tsp. Lime Juice
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
¼ Cup Finely Chopped Pecans

Filling:
1 (3oz.) Package Cream Cheese, softened
1 Cup Sifted Confectioners’ Sugar
1 tsp. Lime Juice
½ Cup Chopped Cashews
½ Cup Shredded Coconut

Drizzle:
1/3 Cup White Chocolate Morsels
4tsp. Butter
2 tsp. Lime Juice
2 tsp. Water
1/3Cup Sifted Confectioners’ Sugar
1 to 2 Drops Green Food Coloring, optional

Preheat Oven To 350 Degrees.

Beat butter in a large mixing bowl on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add confectioners’ sugar, salt, and lime juice, beat until well combined. Beat in as much flour and pecans as you can with your mixer. Stir in remaining flour and pecans with a wooden spoon. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and space 1-inch apart on baking sheets. Press your thumb into the center of each, making a deep well.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or till bottoms are browned and edges are golden. Let sit on baking sheet for 1 minute then remove to wire racks and cool.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese in a medium bowl for 30 seconds or until smooth. Beat in your confectioners’ sugar and lime juice. Stir in nuts and coconut. Place a rounded teaspoonful of filling in the thumbprint of each cookie.

Melt, white chocolate, butter, lime juice and water in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in confectioners’ sugar; beat till smooth. Add food coloring to desired color and drizzle over tops of each cookie; let sit till set.

Makes: 3 Dozen Delicious Cookies

Place in layers separated by wax paper in an airtight container; cover and refrigerate up to 1 week, or you can freeze them up to 1 month.

Thank you, Paula! Your Grand Prize Christmas gift basket will soon be on its way to your home in Pennsylvania.

3 comments:

smalltownmom said...

Congratulations, Paula. Those lime cookies do sound DIVINE!

My son made cookies for the extended family members this year, and they were the best gift ever.

Ann Best said...

The story, Christmas cookie memories (which calls up my own childhood ones), and the recipes are definitely Grand Prize. Congratulations to Paula!

Lori said...

This contest was so fun! I loved reading all the wonderful stories and of course trying new cookies. I think we'll do it again next year! I hope one day I get to meet Paula in person and perhaps taste her wonderful creations. Thanks, thanks, to everyone who entered. This contest and all the people I met were definitely a bright spot in my holidays!

~lori

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