When it comes to our holiday cookie contest, the Star Tribune isn't alone (that's an image -- by Star Tribune photographer Tom Wallace -- of Chocolate Peppermint Cookies, a finalist in this year's 12th-annual survey, which drew nearly 300 entries). December is the month when newspapers across the country are publishing the results of their annual bake-a-thons. Here's a quick rundown:
The Chicago Tribune's 28th-annual competition attracted 100 bakers, and shines the spotlight on Erna's Crescents from Erna Steinbrenner of Downer's Grove, Ill. It's a rolled cookie (with a sour cream dough), filled with ground walnuts.
The seventh-annual cookie showdown at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel drew 106 entries and singled out Three Wiseman Treasures from Jane Mathews of Franksville, Wis., a drop cookie with pecans, dates, crystallized ginger and a dash of cardamom and curry powder.
The Tampa Bay Times' 13th-annual holiday bakefest drew nearly 500 participants, and food editor Janet Keeler doesn't select a winner, preferring to highlight favorites, which include Noelettes from Lisa Smith of St. Petersburg, Fla. (a chocolate cookie topped with chopped pistachios and candied orange peel); Cran-Pistachio Cookies from Josette Konczeski of Tampa, Fla. (a sugar cookie embellished with nuts and dried fruit); and Amaretto Chunk Cookies from Florence Tirabassi of Kenneth City, Fla. (a liqueur-flavored drop cookie with coconut, chocolate and sliced almond grace notes).
At the Los Angeles Times, Vesta Bars took to the top spot among 100-plus entries; the recipe is being published on Dec. 20.
Other newspapers are definitely in a holiday baking mood, even if they steer clear of contest mode. I know I'm going to tackle the Cranberry Ecstacy Bars from the Portland Oregonian (a test-kitchen remake of a popular Starbucks holiday treat), the Linzer Trees (a cutout with roasted almonds and raspberry jam) from the New York Times, Fudgy Walnut Cookies (exactly what their name implies) from the Washington Post and Oatmeal Lace Cookies (thin and crispy and dipped in chocolate) from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.