The Herald-Mail announces Cookie Exchange winners

December 11, 2012|By CHRIS COPLEY |
  • Carla Cardello of McConnellsburg, Pa., is the winner of the The Herald-Mails 20th Cookie Contest with her German Chocolate Cake Sandwich Cookies. She also won The 2012 Cupcake Contest, and used the prize money to put towards the purchase of a red stand mixer, which can be seen at left.
Courtesy of Carla Cardello

In The Herald-Mail's world series of food contests, Carla Cardello is going two for two.

In April, the McConnellsburg, Pa., resident's chocolate-and-coconut-flavored cupcake was the winner of our 2012 Cupcake Contest.

This month, of the 17 entries in The Herald-Mail's 20th Cookie Contest, Cardello's recipe was selected by judges as the winner.

Her entry was, um, a chocolate-and-coconut-flavored cookie.

"I didn't even mean for it to be that way. It really was a coincidence," Cardello, 25, said with a laugh. "I was kind of running ideas through my head, and I ended up with the German chocolate cake sandwiches. And then I thought, ‘Oh, I had the German chocolate cupcake for that contest.' But I really liked how these were coming out."

As it turned out, the judges agreed, with several giving Cardello's German Chocolate Cake Sandwich Cookies perfect scores.

For winning, Cardello will receive a $100 grand prize.

Cardello cooks many different types of foods, from savory to sweet. But she admitted she has been on something of a roll with coconut recently.

"I do use coconut a lot. The other day I made a cookie — brown sugar-cinnamon-coconut cookies," she said. "And then I made a coconut frosting for a cake."

Cardello is always coming up with new recipes. She is a food blogger, publishing as many as three new recipes each week on her website, On the website is her archive, with recipes organized into 20 categories, such as Main Dishes, Cookies and Bars, and Jams and Curds.

She said she usually spends part of her weekends in the kitchen, trying out recipes. And, no, they don't all use coconut.

"I have a list of ideas that go through my head. Maybe I can do this, or I can do that," she said. "Lately I've been fixating on cinnamon and clove — they really bring the flavor of the chocolate out."

Cardello is a videographer for JLG Industries Inc. in McConnellsburg. Often, she said, she will bring samples of her cooking into work on Monday. She asks co-workers for feedback.

Her blog is more than a recipe archive for Cardello. It's also a chance to tell stories and pass on what she's learned in the kitchen. And she also made friends and met fellow foodies.

"(Last week), I hit 1,000 ‘likes' on Facebook. And on Twitter, I've got nearly 940 or so followers," she said. "And I'm part of several online groups. One of the groups I'm in is called Sunday supper. There are 50 or so of us who blog every Sunday. We have a certain theme and post something on that theme."

When Cardello won the cupcake contest in April, she used her prize money to purchase a red stand mixer. With her $100 cookie contest prize, Cardello said she will probably buy new baking sheets.

But with Christmas baking season in full swing, she also plans to buy ingredients.

"I try very hard to do everything from scratch," she said. "So, with Christmas and everything, I'll need butter and eggs, all the essentials there."

And maybe a little coconut.

We couldn't do it without our judges

Thirteen judges helped The Herald-Mail select a winner and five runners-up in the 20th Cookie Contest. The nine included professional bakers and chefs, home cooks and dessert aficionados.

Thanks to:

  •  Kris LeHardy, chef at Aqua 103 restaurant, north of Hagerstown
  •  Rebecca Rush of Hagerstown, co-organizer of Our Taste of History, a Civil War food festival in Buckeystown, Md., in September
  •  Kelly Wilhelm of Hagerstown, cookbook author and former restaurant reviewer
  •  Jennifer Chapman Smith, collections and exhibitions manager at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and a pastry chef
  •  Steve Weiss, chef-instructor at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, W.Va.
  •  David Layton and Norma Kolson, home cooks and co-owners of DatAchieve in downtown Hagerstown
  •  Julz Lawrence-Naylor and Rande Naylor, home cooks and residents of Hagerstown
  •  Laura Radiker, home baker, and Bryan Atherton, dessert lover, both Hagerstown residents
  •  Elois Jenkins, New Orleans native and owner of Gumbo Elois Catering in Hagerstown
  •  Bob Mandley, project coordinator at Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission and a cookie lover

THE WINNER: German Chocolate Cake Sandwich Cookies


2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup sweetened coconut

1 cup pecans, chopped

4 ounces German chocolate, chopped


14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup butter, cut into tablespoons

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups sweetened coconut

1 cup pecans, chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars. Beat in the eggs, then vanilla. Slowly beat in flour mixture.

Stir in the coconut, pecans and chocolate. Chill dough for a hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop dough by heaping tablespoons onto each sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are firm. Let cool 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks. Cool cookie sheets between each use and keep the dough chilled until ready.

Heat milk, yolks and butter in medium saucepan. Stir until butter has melted. While constantly stirring, cook the mixture until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla, coconut and pecans. Cool completely.

To assemble sandwiches, turn half the cookies upside-down. Spoon some filling onto each upside-down cookie. Top with remaining cookies.

Makes 21 sandwich cookies or about 3 1/2 dozen single cookies.

— Adapted by Carla Cardello of McConnellsburg, Pa.

Coconut Oatmeal Crasin

1 cup shortening

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups flour (all-purpose)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup crasins (dried cranberries)

2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal

1 cup coconut

Glass of milk, for dipping spatula

Cream together shortening, sugars, vanilla and eggs until smooth.

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix thoroughly.

Add crasins, oatmeal and coconut and mix thoroughly.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Flatten with a spatula dipped in milk. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

— Adapted by Nancy Lawlor, Samantha Nieman and Clara Nieman of Hagerstown

Rum Raisin Apple Pie Cookies


2 cups raisins

1/2 cup rum

1/2 cup orange juice

Zest of 1 orange

2 apples chopped very fine or shredded

2 tablespoons honey


1 tablespoon flour

1 pound 1.5 ounce pouch Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie dry mix

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 egg


3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup Hershey Caramel Ice Cream Topping

2 tablespoons milk or vanilla coffee creamer

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Put all filling ingredients in pan over medium heat and cook for 20 minutes or until thick. Chill in refrigerator until cold.

In medium bowl, stir flour into dry cookie mix. Add softened butter and egg until soft dough forms.

Roll dough on floured surface until 1/4-inch thick. Cut with 2-inch round cookie cutter. Put 1/2 teaspoon filling in middle of each cookie and fold dough to half. Seal edges with fingers.

Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet. Cool completely.

Mix together topping ingredients. Drizzle topping over cookies.

Store cookies in loosely covered container.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

— Adapted from a pie recipe by Carolyn Etzler-Doyle of Hagerstown

Orange Chai Cinnamon Cookies

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup shortening

1 large egg

1/4 cup chai concentrate

Zest of one medium orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

12-ounce bag cinnamon chips

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon ginger

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, sugar and shortening with a mixer until combined. You might have to whisk as well to ensure smoothness. Add the egg, chai concentrate, orange zest and vanilla. Mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt together. Slowly add flour mixture to wet mixture, and blend until smooth. Stir in the cinnamon chips.

Mix together cinnamon, cloves and ginger and reserve.

Place dough on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet by spoonful. Place cookie sheet on rack in oven. After 1 minute, after cookie batter has melted down, pull sheet out and sprinkle a pinch of spice mixture on top of each cookie. Replace sheet in oven.

Bake a total of 12 to 14 minutes, until cookies begin to brown around the edges.

— An original recipe by Melissa Fountain of Hagerstown

Pumpkin Blossoms

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar, mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon

10-ounce bag pumpkin spice kisses

1/2 cup white chocolate chips, optional

Cream butter, pumpkin and sugars. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in vanilla.

In separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir dry mixture into pumpkin mixture until well blended. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Put sugar-cinnamon mixture in bowl. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in sugar-cinnamon to coat. Place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and press kiss into each cookie. If desired, melt white chocolate chips and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Orange Cashew Cookies

2 cups cashews

1 1/4 cups butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 large egg yolk, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons orange oil

1 cup quick cooking oats, pulsed in food processor

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a heavy bottomed pan with no oil, put 1 cup cashews. Heat over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, shaking often to prevent burning. When lightly toasted, remove and let cool. Toast remaining nuts and let cool. Chop nuts and set aside.

Place butter and sugars in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle, and mix until smooth and creamy. Scrape down sides of bowl, add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and orange oil, one at a time, mixing well after each.

Scrape down sides of bowl, add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well until everything is incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add cashews and mix again.

Drop batter by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until cookie begins to brown at edges. Cool, then transfer to wire rack. Yields 3 to 4 dozen cookies.

— Family recipe from Tara Martin of Maugansville

Courtesy of Carla Cardello

Carla Cardello of McConnellsburg, Pa., is the winner of the The Herald-Mail's 20th Cookie Contest with her German Chocolate Cake Sandwich Cookies. She also won The 2012 Cupcake Contest, and used the prize money to put towards the purchase of a red stand mixer, which can be seen at left.

The Herald-Mail Articles