December 9, 2022
Cookie Wars: And the Winner Is…!
Cookie Wars: And the Winner Is…!
Back in the day when I taught Middle School, one of the great events of Parent Night was Cookie Wars. It was a Bake-Off off involving 7th and 8th grade would-be chef finalists. They were to create their signature cookie front of a live audience of adoring family, friends, and anyone who happened to be visiting the school that night.
Months before the big day, my fellow teacher Samantha and I invited kids to submit plates of their favorite cookies along with the recipes. With up to 80 entries, we had a panel of teachers who volunteered to taste and rate the cookies against a check list we provided.
That might sound like a lot of fun, but sampling that many desserts can add up to a lot of treats no matter how many coffee or milk chasers you might have. Even so, the after-school vetting was a lot of fun and took on a festive air. Right off the bat, though, we were able to eliminate at least a quarter of the entries before we’d even tried them.
Anything that was fuzzy, had dog hair, or smelled weird was put on the NO table without another sniff. After that came the real work. Though an entry might not make the cut, each was acknowledged with a big color photo hanging in the hallway showing the treat and naming the chef. That included those on the No table!
For the sampling, we’d loosely categorized the entries into groups like Chocolate, Fruit, Peanut Butter, Unique, or Not Sure, and then pass out the goodies. Each judge reviewed the criteria, took a nibble, made some notes, took a bigger nibble, then rated the entry. Then we’d tally up the scores, discuss the good and bad points and move on the next. At the end of two long days of tasting, we’d have our chefs.
The finalists were announced with great fanfare on the morning announcements. Then their real work began. They were required to meet with us for several days after school where they were taught how to introduce themselves, how to talk to the judges, and how to implement food safety tips. They received their Cookie Wars aprons and practiced their recipes in our test kitchens.
They night of the Bake-Off was filled with nerves and excitement. We had local celebrity judges – bakery owners, restaurant chefs, party planners – who’d interview the students and watch their baking techniques. Afterward, the judges would retire to their private room and sample each cookie.
At the end of the evening our school Principal came in to announce the champion. And the winner is…”Mintny Lions” chocolate mint cookie created by Shannon and Yan! With cheers and a couple of tears, two tired teachers applauded their students’ efforts and closed the oven doors on another year of Cookie Wars.
Minty Lion Cookies
1 ½ sticks butter 2 eggs 2 6 oz. pkgs Andes mints
1 ½ c. packed brown sugar 2 1/2 c. flour
2 T water 1 ¼ t. baking soda
12 oz. dark chocolate chips ¼ t. salt
1. Preheat oven to 350o. In a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, sugar and water.
2. Once thoroughly combined, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips until smooth. Let stand for 10 minutes to cool.
3. While mixture is cooling, combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
4. Pour chocolate mixture into a large mixing bowl and beat in eggs one at a time.
5. Add flour mixture all at once and mix on low.
6. Drop by teaspoonful 2 in. apart onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment.
7. Bake 12-13 minutes. Remove from oven immediately.
8. Place 1 mint on each cookie. (You could also use a ½ mint.) After a few seconds, swirl the mint with the back of a spoon. Cool and remove from sheet. Makes about 6 1/2 dozen.