MINNEAPOLIS During the taste test we conducted last October for our 11th annual holiday cookie contest, a theme seemed to reverberate among the 22 judges, and it went something like this: "I like it, but it's not a Christmas cookie."
Other variations included "I'd bake these for the kids during the school year, although not in December," "These have 'everyday cookie' written all over them" and, most memorably, "Wouldn't this be a great lunchbox cookie?"
One wrinkle that we're revisiting and enjoying all these months later is the pleasure of a lower-profile cookie. Sure, it might not necessarily possess the flashy individuality required to make a favorable impression on a crowded holiday tray, yet it still manages to cover all the cookie bases and then some without resorting to Toll House familiarity.
The three recipes we have here go above and beyond that description. Along with their own specific levels of deliciousness, each cookie proves that there's always more to discover in the world of chocolate chips, peanut butter, oatmeal, coconut and pecans. Oh, and because all three recipes are prepared using the drop formula, they're relatively easy to make.
Go ahead, add a new cookie to your lunchbox repertoire. And thanks to bakers Theresa Neely of Maplewood, Linda Faust of Minneapolis and Mary Ellen Wingen of Owatonna, Minn., for giving all of us more reasons to bake and snack this winter.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Note: From Theresa Neely of Maplewood, Minn. For years, Neely would bake Seven Layer Bars as a Christmas treat for her daughter, mailing them cross-country. "About five years ago, while attending a church picnic, I came across this cookie and fell in love with it," she wrote. "This cookie traveled very well and has now become her favorite cookie of the season."
1 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds cereal