When the weather turns cold, the competition at Wilton heats up! As a member of the food team and an avid baker, I was looking for a fun way to get our team in the Holiday spirit that involved some delicious treats. Fueled by this desire, last year I launched our 1st ever Christmas Cookie Smackdown! — A friendly competition to test the baking and decorating skills of my co-workers (some self-proclaimed foodies). Like any good competition, there were rules, judges, and prizes.
The rules, though limited, lend an element of seriousness to the competition and can be fun to write, tailoring them to your specific competition. Here are a few of ours:
- The cookie dough and icing can be family recipes, published recipes or store bought, however each contestant is required to bake their own dough and ice their own cookies (no third party assistance here—ie your Professional Chef neighbor is off limits ?).
Next came the judges or should I say, lucky co-workers. We selected tasters from various departments and even included a distinguished taster from our Test Kitchen.
With the rules in place and judges selected, we set off to our respective kitchens, and returned the next day with our creations. The competition began with some oohing and aahing over the creative approaches taken by the team members.
Keeping with her Italian heritage, Giulia kept things simple and only decorated with dark chocolate.
I honed my pastry background and used royal icing to create some gravity defying details.
But the real surprise came from our youngest contestant, Lisa, who made us all laugh with her mystery shape…the Leg Lamp (which she cut by hand) from the classic movie “A Christmas Story.”
After several rounds of sampling (okay, too many rounds!) we picked winners and awarded fun prizes for the Best Tasting Cookies,
Best Looking Cookies
and Best Overall Cookies.
When it was all said and done, we realized the real winners were our judges (the lucky tasters), but we all left with full bellies, big smiles, and some fun ideas for the 2010 competition…perhaps a Gingerbread house decorating contest…