Winning Cookies from The Chicago Tribune
Thousands of cookies are entered every year into the Chicago Tribune’s annual holiday cookie contest. The Tribune is one of the few papers with an actual test kitchen where the entries are put through their paces. Guest judges sometimes weigh in, such as Julia Child, who apparently was very picky about what she tasted and saw. Most of the recipes are family heirlooms such as the Kolacky Dambrowski, a cream cheese filled Polish cookie that won top honors in 2003. In Holiday Cookies: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies and Moreyou will find over 100 tested recipes that have won various prizes throughout the years. As much a historical document, we get to read about the background of the entrants and see them baking in their own kitchens. We are featuring this recipe along with Mrs. Levy’s Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies. Check out the paper’s Good Eating section for more recipes such as this.
Excerpted with permission from Holiday Cookies: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies and More by the Chicago Tribune Staff. Published by Agate Publishing 2014. Images by the Chicago Tribune.
Meagan Fricano received an honorable mention in 2011 for these beautiful cookies, which shimmered, sparkled and glowed. Fricano, a neurobiologist, used forceps to apply her silver dragees.
Prep time: 40 minutes, plus decorating
Chill time: 4 hours
Bake time: 12 to 15 minutes per batch
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon 2% milk
- 3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- ¼ cup meringue powder
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- Water, about ⅓ cup
- Gel food coloring
- Combine the flours and baking powder in a bowl; stir to evenly distribute the baking powder. Set aside.
- In a 6-quart stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the salt, vanilla and milk; mix to blend. With mixer running, add eggs and extra yolk, one at a time, waiting until each is combined before adding the next.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low; slowly add flour mixture. Add additional all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap; divide in half. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap; form into flat discs. Refrigerate 4 to 48 hours, or freeze up to a month.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Let dough warm up slightly; roll out to ½ inch thick using powdered sugar (not flour) to stop it from sticking. Cut out snowflake shapes; bake on parchment-lined baking pans until just barely starting to brown on the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove promptly from oven; let cool on the sheet pan, 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
- For icing, mix the meringue powder and powdered sugar in a medium bowl; slowly add water until the frosting reaches desired consistency. Add a little gel food coloring, if desired. For best results, start with a stiff frosting, put some aside in a parchment baking bag or zip-top bag, then add water to the remaining frosting. Use the stiff frosting to pipe outlines on the cooled cookies, then carefully apply the thinner icing to fill in the cookies between the piped outlines (a toothpick helps to carefully move thin icing into small spaces).