2017 Journal-News Holiday Cookie Contest: The top 3 cookie recipes

Debbie Senger’s winning entry from the Butler County Fair also won the 2017 Journal-News Holiday Cookie Contest.

Senger, of Liberty Twp., entered her White Chocolate Orange Cookies, which were a hit among this year’s judges — a newsroom full of hungry Journal-News reporters.

The White Chocolate Orange Cookies are a proven winning recipe for Senger.

“I entered the Butler County Fair with baked goods. When I entered the fair with cookies, I needed a favorite cookie recipe. I asked a friend who gave me this recipe. I entered it and won first place,” she said.

This holiday, the home baker will be creating more tasty treats with her family.

“Years ago I bought a gingerbread house mold to make with my son, who is now in his 30s,” she said. “This year, I am decorating a gingerbread house mold with my grandson Wyatt, who is 4 years old. He loves to bake with his grandma.”


First place by Debbie Senger of Liberty Twp.

1 cup butter

½ cup sugar

⅔ cup of brown sugar

1 egg

1 tbsp. orange rind

2 tsp. orange extract

2¼ cup flour

¾ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2 cups of white chocolate chips

Directions: Mix butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add egg, orange rind and orange extract. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in white chocolate chips. Drop onto ungreased pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

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An unlikely ingredient for a cookie classic — oatmeal-chocolate chip — earned Rachel Houser of Hamilton second place in the 2017 Journal-News Holiday Cookie Contest.

“This was the first time using hot sauce in a recipe,” she said of the unusual ingredient added to her Holiday Makeover Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Cookie. “I usually use extra sweets like cinnamon or nutmeg. I heard from other bakers that to give it a little kick, use hot sauce. This was my first time adding Tabasco pepper sauce.”

Rachel had her grandmother be her taste tester for the punched-up cookies.

“She loved them and was really happy it. She couldn’t stop eating them,” she said.


Second place by Rachel Houser of Hamilton

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1½ tsp. Tabasco pepper sauce

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2½ cups old fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked

1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, with mixer on medium-low speed, beat sugars and vegetable spread until well blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Add egg, egg white, Tabasco pepper sauce and vanilla; beat until smooth. Beat in flour, baking soda and salt until mixed. With spoon, stir in oats and chocolate chips until well combined. Drop dough by rounded measuring tablespoon, 2 inches apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet. Bake until golden, about 12-13 minutes. With wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Store cookies in cookie jar up to three days.

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Gina Allen’s homemade treats are well-known around town — whether they are being devoured by co-workers at Brookwood Elementary in Hamilton City Schools or the congregation of the church where her husband is a pastor.

“My husband is a pastor and I leave cookies on the entry table at church. If you miss a service, you will miss a treat,” the Hamilton resident said.

Allen’s Raspberry Cheesecake Cookies earned her third place in the 2017 Journal-News Holiday Cookie Contest.

“Baking is in my blood. I love to do it. I love to give it away,” she said.

Allen’s first cookie press was her grandmother’s, which is still in the original box with the original recipe book, she said.

“It is one of my most treasured items that I own,” she said.

Now, it is her grandchildren who are helping her with the holiday baking.

“My favorite helpers are my grandchildren, who help me with decorating cookies,” she said.

Allen’s Raspberry Cheesecake Cookies recipe is her mother’s favorite.

“She loves anything raspberry,” she said.

So did our judges.


Third place by Gina Allen of Hamilton

8 oz. cream cheese

1 cup butter flavored Crisco (shortening)

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

4 (7 ounce) boxes Jiffy Raspberry Muffin Mix

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 (12 ounce) bag white chocolate chips

Directions: Cream the cream cheese, Crisco and brown sugar together. Add the egg and vanilla. Blend. Scrape bowl. Add muffin mixes and flour. Mix until just incorporated. Fold in white chocolate chips. Scoop 1½ Tbsp. balls of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 14 minutes. Do not over-bake.

Recipe makes approximately 5-6 dozen cookies, depending on size of cookie scoop used.

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