Best cookie bar none

Original fruit-and-nut bar is top cookie

Original fruit-and-nut bar is top cookie

December 10, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

Many husbands think their wives make the best cookies.

This year, Mark Rulle was right.

He told his wife, Kelly, that her newly created cookie recipe, Kelly's Sensational Fruit & Nut Bars, would win The Herald-Mail's 15th annual cookie exchange contest.

And it did.

"That was great," Kelly Rulle said upon learning her cookie was judged the best among 69 entries. For winning, she will receive $100.

Rulle also was a top-10 finisher last year, her first year in the contest, with her Lemon Almond Berry Bars, another of her original recipes.


Judge Erica Colliflower, 17, a contributor to The Herald-Mail's teen section Pulse, found the fruit-and-nut bar "yummy."

"It tasted like a cookie, to its credit, because a lot of those end up tasting like granola bars," said judge Tiffany Arnold, a staff writer with The Herald-Mail.

The cookie was moist and had a nice fruit flavor without being too fruity, judges said.

It also looked "Christmasy," said judge Bill Taylor, a retired correctional officer who works part-time in security for the newspaper.

The other judges were Stacey Zawatski, owner of Ol' Town Sweets in Boonsboro; and two other Herald-Mail employees - Roslyn Levine, office/retention manager for the Circulation Department, and Rob Arrington, inside sales consultant in the Classified Advertising Department.

Cookies were judged on taste, appearance, the originality of the recipe, and overall quality. The judges were split into two groups, each tasting about half of the entries. Then each group selected finalists. The top ten were chosen from among 17 finalists.

Rulle, 41, of Hagerstown, began thinking about what she would enter two weeks before the contest.

"I was thinking of macaroons. I love using the boxed cake mix as a cookie base. Then I found the coconut cake mix. I thought it would be a good base for the cookie. I found tropical fruit. And almonds usually go with macaroons," said the mother of three girls.

Rulle said she usually buys ingredients gradually - as she has a coupon or sees things on sale - thinking they'd help make a good cookie some day.

She did one test run for the fruit and nut bar and decided to add more dried fruit.

The ingredients were her favorites.

Rulle isn't shy about sharing her cookies.

She often bakes and freezes cookies, then makes big cookie trays for her husband, who is director of education at Washington County Hospital, to take to work.

She also gives cookies or brownies to the mechanics whenever one of the family cars gets serviced.

Rulle is a personal trainer at Gold's Gym on Northern Avenue.

Asked if she considers her winning cookies healthy, she said, "No, it's one of those eat-this-and-then-come-see-me-and-I'll-help-you-work-it-off (cookies)."

By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Kelly Rulle of Hagerstown said she began thinking about what cookie she would enter two weeks before entries for The Herald-Mail's 15th annual cookie exchange contest were due.

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