Times-News' 2012 Cookie Champs
TWIN FALLS, Dec 05, 2012 (The Times-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Shevelle Hurtado picked up the morsel of cookie on her paper plate and took a bite.
"Oh!" Hurtado said, shaking her head and wrinkling her nose. "It has coffee in it."
Hurtado, 12, watched the other two child judges take a bite, pause and circle their own scores.
One by one each of the six judges -- three adults and three children -- received small pieces of the 17 cookies entered in the Times-News' fifth Christmas cookie contest Nov. 26.
As each cookie was nibbled and rated, the judges' plates became the visual indicator of what tasted good and not-so-good, as leftover pieces were sorted into different piles.
Each judge scored each cookie on appearance and taste on a scale from 1 to 5. Entries were assigned numbers, so the judges didn't know what kind of cookie they were about to taste or the name of the person who made it.
Sometimes an attractive cookie disappointed on taste.
And the taste scores, of course, depended on the preferences of these six testers. While one liked an entry, the person next to them didn't.
"It tastes like coconut," said Casey Fries, 11. He threw that piece on his plate, taking a sip of milk, and didn't touch it again.
Nicole Ridgway, a second-year baking and pastry student at the College of Southern Idaho, thought that cookie had a bland taste but said it was pretty.
When one cookie -- a pool of caramel on top with chocolate drizzles -- was passed around for a look, almost all the panelists gave it high marks. But they were divided on the taste.
"If there were smaller pieces of salt it would be better," said Lisa Wagner, a first-year baking and pastry student at CSI.
Eyes lit up around the table when what some described as a "whoopie pie" was uncovered and divided into six pieces.
"Oh, oh," Hurtado said as her piece was placed in front of her.
"Oh, that's soft," Fries said, taking a bite. "Yeah, it's pumpkin."
Another entry looked like a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with cream for the filling.
"It's almost like a MoonPie," said judge Shana Cheyney, an employee at The Cookie Basket in Twin Falls.
Hurtado was the first to guess the correct flavor: banana.
"I don't like banana very much," she said.
The fluffy green and white Christmas tree cookies also excited the judges. Their lemon flavor seemed to surprise some, but Cory Wettstein, 7, enjoyed his piece.
"It's kind of good," he murmured between bites.
Wettstein arched his right eyebrow, blue pen in hand, and circled his choice. Then he picked up the remainder of his green tree and ate the rest.
When scoring taste, the texture was a huge factor. Cookies that had a harder texture didn't seem to fare well with the three young judges, but the adults voiced approval.
The pink and blue Idaho-shaped cookies caused some confusion, especially when it came to understanding what the single chocolate chip near the bottom of the state meant.
"Where is the chocolate chip " Times-News Features Editor Virginia Hutchins asked. Fries was momentarily stumped.
"I don't know this stuff," he said. When someone came up with the answer (Twin Falls), Fries sheepishly smiled.
But when Hutchins asked which color everyone preferred to taste -- pink or blue -- all the judges had an opinion.
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