Star Tribune's cookie of the year a salty-sweet treat

Categories: Cooking contest

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Sugary balls
Every December the Star Tribune tackles a problem that many people would envy: sorting through hundreds of cookie recipe submissions to find the annual Christmas cookie champion. This year Rick Nelson (check out this video describing the cookie-sorting process) chose a pistachio-orange sandwich cookie submitted by Mike Rohr who, naturally, adapted a recipe from his grandmother. But we had to find out firsthand: Is this truly 2010's best cookie?

As a sandwich cookie, Rohr's recipe requires several distinct steps (follow the recipe here) beginning with the actual cookie making. The ingredients are pretty straightforward, and the recipe recommends rolling the dough into small balls. Coat each ball in sugar and pop them in the oven.

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Festive green frosting (and festive green walls)
Once all the cookies have baked, it's time to pull together the frosting that sticks the cookies together. Rohr's recipe makes enough for each cookie to be generously slathered, which makes sense since the frosting that oozes out gets rolled in crushed pistachios. The frosting is thick and sweet, but the saltiness of the pistachios cuts it nicely. Though there's definitely a reason for making these cookies small--they pack a sugary punch.

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Awash in pistachios
Taking the finished product to a cookie exchange, the reaction from partygoers was unanimous: The Strib chose a solid winner. "The citrus flavor from the orange is actually kind of refreshing," said one taste tester, who appreciated the cookie's break from the chocolate overload that the holidays bring. Another tester commented on the healthy mix of salty and sweet rolled into a soft and chewy sandwich cookie. In the end, the empty plate that formerly held three dozen cookies was the strongest indicator of the cookie's success, and makes us eager to try Nelson's runners-up: red velvet whoopie pies, hot and sassy peanut butter buds, strawberry-margarita gems and anise-pecan cookies.

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