Baking Her Way to the Top

Senior's cookies sweep Chicago Tribune's Holiday Cookie Contest

Sarah Erickson, Reporter

Senior Sarah McLoud’s caramel-filled pumpkin cookies won the Chicago Tribune’s Holiday Cookie Contest, earning her $250 cash and an invite to a cookie party and tour of the Tribune’s brand-new test kitchen.

To enter, contestants had to submit an original recipe, a photo of the cookies and a description of why they are special. All of the submissions were posted on the Food & Dining page on the Chicago Tribune online.

This year, contestants submitted a total of 48 recipes for which thousands of votes were cast during online voting. Readers helped choose the finalists by voting for their favorites. The top 15 contestants with the most votes became finalists and were asked to bring two dozen of their cookies to the Tribune’s offices on Nov. 5th. The cookies were tasted and ranked by a panel of Tribune food writers and a guest pastry chef. McLoud ranked number one.

This wasn’t McLoud’s first year entering. She took second place her freshman year, didn’t compete sophomore year, and didn’t make it further than the top 15 her junior year.

McLoud said she is dedicated to this contest because she loves the creativity that it involves. McLoud grew up baking with her family and started before she could even talk. She picked up on baking cookies from her grandmother specifically.

“Every fall as this contest looms closer, I drive over to my grandmother’s house on specific weekends,” McLoud said. “We make lists of ideas that may or may not later turn into anything more than small ink marks, but we always begin with our favorite flavors.“

“This year our two favorites were combined into one, as I love all things pumpkin and my grandma loves caramel. We created the perfect cookie sandwiches that we can count on carrying with us into countless holiday gatherings to come.”