A ‘Blissful’ cookie bake-off | VailDaily.com

A ‘Blissful’ cookie bake-off

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO, Colorado
NWS Cookie Contest 1 DT 11-21-07

BEAVER CREEK ” I just wanted a cookie.

But that was easier said than done, considering I had to fight a mob of tourists in puffy ski jackets, hungry kids and women draped in fur coats to get to the cookies.

The fourth annual Beaver Creek chocolate chip cookie contest took place Wednesday, and each of the five finalists had baked 1,000 cookies to be judged by Beaver Creek visitors.

Free, warm chocolate chip cookies on the coldest day so far this month? Let’s just says it was a free-for-all.

I barely got to sample all five entries. I narrowly avoided getting melted chocolate on some of those precious fur coats while dodging clamoring parents clutching handfuls of cookies.

All those are for your kids, right? Right.

But it was worth the struggle. Chewy. Rich. Fluffy. Crispy. The cookie entries were diverse, but all delicious.

“They shouldn’t even have places for the finalists,” one woman in the crowd commented. “They were all so good!”

But the crowd did choose a winner ” Denver resident Jason Stingl and his “Chocolate Bliss” cookies.

Stingl was a finalist in last year’s competition and came in third. This year, he stuck with his basic recipe, but added a little more chocolate, less butter and more leavening agent to make them fluffier, he said.

The result was a triple-chocolate chip cookie, with cocoa powder in the fluffy dough, ample amounts of chips, and melted chocolate shavings dusting the top.

One of his secrets is using Mexican vanilla.

“It just has a much richer flavor,” he said.

Stingl definitely earned his win. He baked all 1,000 cookies single-handedly and even handed out milk with his cookies to win the hearts of tasters.

“I flew in from California last night and started at 9:30 p.m. I’ve been baking ever since,” he said at 10:30 a.m. the morning of the competition.

“It was a little beyond my control,” he said of the all-night baking marathon. “But I just ended up rolling with it.”

He’ll probably retire from the contest now that he has won, he said, but he hopes to return next year ” as a taster.

Coming in second place was Edwards resident Michele Pirozzi, who entered her “Cookie Monsters.” They included dark, semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips as well as a dash of oats, she said.

Pirozzi, who is a personal chef by trade but only a “recreational baker,” said she had wanted to enter the contest for several years. This year after several sports injuries sidelined her, she had some time to experiment with recipes and enter the contest.

Avon resident Gabe Hogan entered “Hogan’s Heroes,” which came in third place.

The cookies were based on his mother’s secret recipe.

“It took me a while to convince her to give me the recipe,” said the TV8 co-host and producer. “When she finally e-mailed it to me she said I had to use it behind closed doors and never tell anyone about it.”

He had to make a lot of changes for the high altitude. For two weeks he tweaked the recipe and tried them out on his co-workers.

Fourth-place contestant Darla Goodell had the best presentation, with her heart-shaped “Baby Got Cookies.”

Goodell, owner of the Turntable restaurant in Minturn, decided to create a recipe with her chef and a friend one day. What resulted was a cookie bar with dried cherries, granola, almond flavor and rice krispies.

It was fun to enter the contest, she said, but she’s a little “baked-out.”

“I never want to eat another chocolate chip cookie in my life,” she said.

Fifth place was Edwards resident Sandra Burner, who said her recipe for “The World’s Best High Altitude Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever” is the result of 13 years of experimenting.

“My daughter and I bake a lot, and we finally figured it out this year,” she said.

Her secret? Adding rolled oats and using butter-flavored Crisco.

The cookies, all 5,000 of them, disappeared in minutes, leaving the hungry tasters to cast their votes.

The Lynn family from Oklahoma huddled together, trying all the cookies they had gathered.

“I like the Hogan’s Heroes. They’re really cinammon-y!” said Tori Lynn, 9.

After some hard thinking, her mother, Vanessa Lynn, decided on the Cookie Monster.

“It just melted in my mouth,” she said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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