Five bakers vie for the cookie crown at Wednesday’s Beaver Creek Cookie Comp | VailDaily.com
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Five bakers vie for the cookie crown at Wednesday’s Beaver Creek Cookie Comp

Katie Coakley
Daily Correspondent
Julianna Kopec is one of the finalists in this year's Beaver Creek Cookie Comp.
Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

What: Beaver Creek Cookie Comp.

When: 2 p.m. today.

Where: Beaver Creek Village. The winning cookie will be announced at 3 p.m. on the Fountain Stage.

Cost: Free.

More information: http://www.beavercreek.com.

Best Ever Chocolate Chippers from Nancy Johnson (2013-’14 contest winner)

Sometimes waiting is the hardest part. Until the winner is announced, you can make last year’s winning cookie recipe at home.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Combine flour, soda and salt.

Set aside. Beat butter, dark and white sugar and vanilla until creamy and light-colored, about 5 minutes.

Beat in egg, about another minute.

Gradually add flour mixture and mix well. Add chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until slightly golden.

It’s 3 p.m. at Beaver Creek. A small stampede occurs at the base area in Beaver Creek Village as the alluring scent of warm, chocolate-chip cookies wafts through the air. As children and adults alike tuck into these little circles of chocolaty goodness, many are unaware of the journey that these cookies have made, from concept to competition to consumption.

Beaver Creek Resort started Cookie Time in 1985 as a sweet treat for guests. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that home cooks had the opportunity to enter their recipes for the World’s Best Chocolate-Chip Cookie Competition. Now in its 11th year, the competition welcomes entries from around the country as well as from the four corners of Colorado.



THE COMPETITIVE JOURNEY

The road from recipe to rock star, cookie-wise, is an extended one. Bakers submitted a sample dozen of their tastiest recipe during the week of Oct. 20, where their entries were judged in four categories: taste, texture, appearance and the creativity of the cookie name/packaging. The cookies were rated by a rotating crew of judges that were hand-picked for their discerning palates and knowledge of all things cookie.



It’s an intense judging process — the cookies received critiques with descriptions on every aspect of the entry, with some being described as a “full-body cookie”; “thick and not dry”; “delicious and pretty”; or simply “yummy.”

At the beginning of November, the votes were tallied and five recipes were chosen as finalists. But being chosen as a finalist isn’t the beginning of a cake walk; it’s actually when the serious bulk of baking takes place.



THE FINALISTS

This year’s finalists are a diverse — yet somewhat homogeneous — group. Chosen from entries from around the country, including Wisconsin, California, Texas, Georgia and Oregon, as well as from across the state, the finalists all hail from Colorado. Though the contest is open to everyone, all of the finalists are women; some are married and several have children. Though there are differences in these women, there is a common thread — they all make a pretty mean chocolate chip cookie.

“I’m really excited about it,” said Julianna Kopec, who works as a supervisor at the Golden Peak Ticket Office in Vail. “I’ve been practicing for about a year, working on making the perfect cookie.”

Originally from Massachusetts, Kopec moved to Vail a little more than a year ago and said that she’s been working out the kinks on both baking at altitude, and with limited supplies.

“When I first started baking out here, I didn’t have everything I needed to bake,” Kopec said. “I would bake out of pans and stuff, I didn’t have bowls — it was a mess.”

However, she persevered and developed her recipe: Cookies of Prey. The addition of pudding mix into the cookies makes them really chewy, Kopec explained. And the name? Kopec wanted to have a tie to the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, so she decided on a reference to the Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek.

When asked if they were going to devour the other cookies, she replied, “Of course they are.”

For Cassie Sewell from Eagle, the decision to enter the competition was a more spur-of-the-moment decision.

“I kept hearing (about the contest) on the radio and I thought, ‘I make a pretty good chocolate cookie. I’ll submit a dozen and see how it goes,’” Sewell said.

Sewell credits her husband for getting her into baking.

“My mother-in-law is an amazing baker, so he (my husband) grew up having baked goods. He kept complaining that he never received baked goods anymore, so I asked him what his favorite cookie was,” Sewell said.

After finding a great recipe for white-chocolate chip cookies, Sewell started tweaking the recipe to deal with the altitude and, pretty soon, was making cookies all the time for her family.

Now, Sewell’s “World Class” Chocolate Chip Cookies will be featured as one of the finalists for the competition.

“My sister works at the Hyatt in Beaver Creek and she told me that the cookies are gone in about five minutes — 5,000 cookies, gone in five minutes,” Sewell laughed. “I think it’ll be fun to be part of the chaotic-ness.”

COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION

The final judgment on the World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie takes place on the first day of Beaver Creek’s ski season.

Being a judge is a critical component of the day, an honor that’s been chosen through social media for the past few years. Last year, the Wolffe, Troff and Hornbostel families served as the official judging panel for the competition by submitting their top reasons and qualifications for being cookie judges on Beaver Creek’s Facebook page.

This year, families that were interested in becoming special VIP judges for the competition were asked to post or message a video on Facebook, 30 seconds or less, singing a jingle of why they should be chosen as judges.

Those guests who want to take part in the general judging and tasting should arrive promptly at 2 p.m., if not earlier. After tasting each of the entries, place your vote by picking up a token and dropping it into the box that’s labeled with your favorite cookie. Votes will be tallied and a winner will be crowned, their recipe replicated for hungry Beaver Creek guests at special events throughout the rest of the ski season.

COOKIES, COOKIES EVERYWHERE

Today is opening day at Beaver Creek and it promises an extravaganza for cookie lovers. Start the day off right with early morning cookie time starting just before 9 a.m. as the lifts start up for the season. Public judging for the competition starts at 2 p.m. at the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village and the winning cookie will be announced at 3 p.m. on the Fountain Stage. Regular cookie time will commence at 3 p.m. by the base of the Centennial Express Lift (Chair 6).

Just can’t wait for a cookie fix? Head over to the new Beaver Creek Cookie & Crepe Company, which is located by the Covered Bridge and Beaver Creek Lodge. A new restaurant in the village, the Beaver Creek Cookie & Crepe Company features sweet and savory crepes and, when the winner is chosen, will be serving this year’s “World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie.”

The beginning of ski season is always an eagerly anticipated event, with the hope that fresh snow will decorate the mountain like great swaths of sugar. However, it can be argued that the sweetest treat will be found at the base area, studded with chocolate chips.


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