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Christmas Cookies Raise Spirits, Funds at Cataplana

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The array of cookies at the Cataplana contest.

Twenty-nine different cookies, ranging from apricot rugelach to peanut butter crisscrosses, were entered into Cataplana of Castroville’s first benefit cookie contest.

By the time the dust from the powdered sugar settled, the judges had decided on four winners.

The grand prize went to Elizabeth Brandt for her Cranberry, White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Cookies (see recipe below).

Tastiest cookie was the Coconut Orange Tartlet made by Margaret Beardslee.

Most unique was a hickory nut cookie from Katie Ralston.

And the prettiest cookie was a spice cookie from Colleen Byars.

The contest, which benefits the Medina Valley Future Farmers of America, raised more than $500, says Cecilia Fetty, who owns the Castroville culinary store. More will be raised from the sale of a cookbook of the cookie recipes, which the store has for $5 a copy.

Cookies were also auctioned off to raise money for HANK, Helping Abused and Neglected Kids.

Grand prize winner Elizabeth Brandt (right) stands with judge Betty Barkley.

Brandt was worried about entering her first cookie contest. But she shouldn’t have. The winning cookie has a an appealing mix of textures and flavors that make it a winner.

Brandt had just finished paying off her Viking mixer, which was the grand prize in the contest. Instead of the mixer, Fetty will give her a Viking food processor in the color of her choice.

The judges for the contest were local chef and author Betty Barkley, Ken Smith, who the Old Alsatian Steak House in Castroville as well as Hemingway’s in Rockport, and myself, of SavorSA.

Cataplana is at 810 Hwy. 90 E., Castroville. Call 830-538-9911.

Cranberry, White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Cookies

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup golden brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted salted macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until blended.

Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat just until blended. Use spatula, stir in cranberries, both types of chips, and nuts.

For large cookies, drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart. For small cookies, drop dough by level tablespoonfuls onto sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until golden, about 15 minutes for large cookies and about 12 minutes for small cookies.

Cool on sheets.

From Elizabeth Brandt

(Photos by Bill Dorey.)

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