Hours of baking, minutes of munching
BEAVER CREEK – It’s hard to tell which went faster during Beaver Creek’s opening day Wednesday – the powder or the cookies.Hungry skiers and snowboarders rushed the plaza around 2 p.m. and gobbled up 5,000 cookies in about 20 minutes during the resort’s second annual World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Contest. Five pre-selected bakers prepared 1,000 cookies each and handed them out fresh in hopes of persuading tasters to vote in favor of their version of the classic sweet.Each cookie – although all chocolate chip – tasted as different as their respective creator. Some recipes featured special ingredients like orange oil or peanut butter chips, while other bakers opted to use bitter sweet chocolate instead of the original semi-sweet. But in the end, team Jarrod Carmen and Don Golden of Avon won first prize with Carmen’s Golden Chocolate Chip Cookie.
“I heard about Jarrod’s cookie while coming down the mountain,” Kristin Neuckranz of Arrowhead said. “It was warm and soft, that’s what really got me. But they all were really good.”Carmen, who owns Complete Catering, said it took him about five years to perfect the recipe, which originated in Australia, the chef’s home country. Altitude was Carmen’s biggest hurdle.”It took a lot of time and effort to get it right with the altitude, to find a balance without it losing its flavor.”Carmen said he uses less baking powder, less baking soda and a higher temperature to compensate for higher altitude. Carmen’s real secret, he revealed, is a lot of love and bitter sweet chocolate.
Dawn Pimmel of Highlands Ranch, the only out-of-town contestant, said she began altering her cookie recipe for high altitude seven years ago when she first moved to Denver. She adds more flour, uses less butter and sprinkles a lot of baking powder into the batter for more rise.”I don’t like my cookies flat,” Pimmel said. “No prairie cookies, only mountain cookies.”Ice cream inspired Kristin Durnin’s cookie recipe. She grew up working in an ice cream parlor where her favorite flavor was chocolate orange.
“I use a little orange oil in my cookies,” Durnin said. All of the bakers spent hours in the kitchen in preparation for the contest, either starting very early Wednesday morning or baking well into the night Tuesday. Even for professional chefs, baking 1,000 cookies is quite an undertaking.”It’s Beaver Creek’s 25th anniversary,” Stacey Klein of Avon said. “I figured what better a way to celebrate than by supporting the local community and getting involved.”Klein took third place with her Loco Triple Chip cookies chalk full of white, semi sweet and dark chocolate goodness.
“It’s 24 hours of baking for 30 minutes of chowing down,” Nicole Frey of Vail said. Frey and Nathan Putens won second place with their classic “Sweet Life” chocolate chip cookie. Putens spent 12 hours the night before – his 30th birthday – preparing for the contest.”I’ve been baking with my mom ever since I was little,” Putens said. “Any chance to eat raw cookie dough.”Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or firstname.lastname@example.org.