Bakers, heat your ovens.
It's time for the Star-Telegram's seventh annual Very Merry Cookie Challenge, and once again, the stakes are high.
The grand prize-winning cookie will be made and sold at Blue Bonnet Bakery in Fort Worth (www.bluebonnetbakery.com) for two weeks in December. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the winning cookie will go to the Goodfellow Fund, the Star-Telegram's charity that benefits needy children in Tarrant County.
The first runner-up will receive a set of Reata silicone bakeware, courtesy of Reata Restaurant in Fort Worth. All the winners and runners-up will be featured in the Star-Telegram's Your Life section Dec. 1.
So dust off your best original recipes, and read these instructions carefully.
What to enter: Send us your very best, most delicious, most delightful, most decadent cookie recipe, the one people rave about year after year. It may be a bar, a drop, a decorated cookie or a chocolaty one; it may be a long recipe or a short one. But the recipe MUST be original or adapted.
If you have adapted a recipe, you must tell us the original source and explain how it has been adapted.
One recipe per entrant, please; more than one will disqualify the entrant.
How to enter: You must enter the contest online. (Hand-written recipe cards or e-mailed recipes will not be accepted.) Go to Star-Telegram.com/living and look for the Cookie Contest Entry Form. You will be required to fill in your name, city of residence and contact information (not for publication) as well as your recipe, its source and any special notes. You'll have the option of adding a photo (hint: judges really like to see photos with recipes).
Then just click once to send, and wait to hear -- via phone call or e-mail from the Star-Telegram -- if your recipe makes it to the next round.
Semifinalists will be asked to drop off a batch of cookies at the Star-Telegram for testing; finalists' recipes will be put to the test by outside bakers. Note: If you do not hear from the Star-Telegram staff, you did not qualify for the next round.
Fine print: You must live in North Texas to enter, and employees of the Star-Telegram and their families are not eligible. By entering, you're authorizing the Star-Telegram to photograph and interview you for publication, and for your cookie to be sold at Blue Bonnet Bakery.
Dates to remember:
Oct. 15: Deadline for submitting cookie recipes online.
Oct. 25: Date by which semifinalists will have been notified.
Nov. 3: Semifinalists will drop off cookies in the morning for judging.
Nov. 5: Date by which finalists will have been notified.
Nov. 17: Date by which winners will have been notified.
Dec. 1: Winners and their recipes will appear in the Star-Telegram and on Star-Telegram.com.
To help get you in the holiday-cookie spirit, here's last year's grand prize-winning recipe, toasted oatmeal with golden raisins, pecans and coconut cookies, made by Amy Beskow of Irving. (You can still special-order these as "Amy's Oatmeal Cookies" from Fort Worth's Sublime Bakery, with a portion of proceeds going to Goodfellows; www.sublimebakery.com.)
Toasted oatmeal with golden raisins, pecans and coconut cookies
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 tablespoon half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup golden raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, coconut and pecans; spread on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the pecans become fragrant. Let the mixture cool.
2. Combine toasted oats, coconut and pecans with flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin-pie spice in a bowl. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, cream both sugars and butter until light, fluffy and smooth. Add egg, half-and-half and vanilla and blend until smooth. Stir in the raisins and oat mixture.
4. Drop dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in rounded spoonfuls about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 13-15 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack for cooling.
Nutritional analysis per cookie: 182 calories, 10 grams fat, 22 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 23 milligrams cholesterol, 93 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 48 percent of calories from fat.
-- Amy Beskow, Irving