Hello, my baking competition warriors! I've spent many years perfecting the tips and tricks necessary to develop the perfect cookie recipe—worthy of first place in any baking competition. I'm here today to share my top five tips for taking home first place. With these tried and true tips, you'll find yourself well on the way to claiming that coveted prize.
See those delicious s'mores chocolate chip cookies above? Yup. You guessed it... first place in a holiday baking competition! I entered these cookies in a Christmas cookie competition at my local gym (of all places) and they earned me three free personal training sessions. While I can't promise the free personal training, I can share with you the thought process behind crafting the perfect cookie for a competition. Read on to bake your way to success!
Win with five tips
I have boiled my top five tips into a simple infographic that you see below. Winning a cookie competition is really about advanced planning. It's not about specific recipe. Yes, read that again... it's not about a specific recipe. It's all about understanding the criteria for judging and then carefully planning your competition entry around that. Are they looking for the best-tasting cookie? Is it a competition to design the best-looking cookie? These things matter and will play into how you proceed going forward.
1. Focus on aesthetics
You know that saying about the it's the little things that matter? That rings completely true when choosing the perfect cookie recipe. How your dessert looks really matters. Especially for competitions that are judged by your coworkers. If no one thinks your cookie looks delicious, no one is going to even pick it up. Looks matter when it comes to crafting the perfect cookie. You might want to add some special decorations or pay close attention to the shape and color.
2. Think... small!
This is an interesting tip, but I always err on the side of smaller cookies for a baking competition. If there is a spread of 20+ cookies to be judged, you don't want your dessert to be overlooked or passed over because it's too big. Make your cookie bite-sized so that it can be easily sampled. I once made the most delicious cream cheese stuffed cookies that were ginormous. They were easily passed over in the baking competition for smaller items.
3. Avoid polarizing flavors
I rarely choose an all-chocoalte dessert for a baking competition. At the end of the day, the judges are people just like you and me, and we all have our flavor preferences. Some flavors are super polarizing. Think coconut, anise, chocolate... you get my drift. Other flavors such as vanilla, caramel, and pumpkin will appeal to a much broader audience. You don't want to set yourself up for failure because a judge doesn't like the flavor combination you chose.
I also like to choose seasonal flavors for my cookies. If it's Christmas, I'm thinking peppermint and hot chocolate. If it's fall, I'm busting out my favorite soft pumpkin cookies. And if it's summer, I'm thinking about citrus, lavender, and berries.
4. Try a unique twist
It should go without saying that your recipe would be unique. Don't do a chocolate chip cookie—instead, think outside the box. I elevated my favorite chocolate chip recipe by making them into s'mores chochoalte chips recipes. You can also be creative with the shape and size of your cookies. I often start with a simple Google search, and then let my mind go crazy.
5. Test your recipe
This should go without saying, but you absolutely need to test your recipe at least once beforehand. The time to test your recipe is not the night before your competition. This is simply setting yourself up for a disaster. There are so many small nuiances that you will want to work out. You need ample time to plan for this. I recommend (at the very least) trying your recipe out the weekend before to see how it turns out.
Try our award-winning cookies
I have four cookie recipes that have won first place in a baking competition, and I'm sharing them with you below. We have plenty of more cookie recipes on My Sweet Precision, but I'm sharing only the winners with you in this post. Use these recipes as inspiration to make your own conest submissions!
General tips for cookie sucess
I also want to share some of my own cookie baking tips and tricks. Regardless of the recipe your using, these tips are are guaranteed to help your cookies turn out perfect every single time.
1. Rotate your cookie sheets halfway through your baking time. Most ovens have hot spots, and this is a great way to ensure even cooking.
2. Chill your cookie dough before baking! This requires some advance planning, but the results will pay dividends. This is the #1 way you can prevent cookie spread. Check out my tips on how long is cookie dough good for in the fridge.
3. Let your cookie sheets cool COMPLETELY between baking. If you place cookies on a hot sheet, they are more likely to spread.
4. Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature before baking. This will make it much easier to combine everything when mixing.
5. This may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure to read your ENTIRE recipe before baking. This will reduce the chance that you miss an ingredient or skip a step.