Holiday Cookie Recipe Contest Winner

We received some delicious recipes attached with heartfelt stories that made determining a winner for our Holiday Cookie Recipe Contest and $100 Cleveland Independents restaurant gift card especially difficult.
There are the peanut butter cookies that recall the day the entrant’s mother, who was developing Alzheimer’s, served up a batch of flavorless cookies as a result of forgetting to incorporate the peanut butter. “Without missing a beat, she got up from the table, went to the kitchen and came back with a jar of peanut butter and a spatula. We did as we were told. We spread the peanut butter on top of otherwise tasteless cookies. When I make them now, friends always say they are they best peanut butter cookies they have ever tasted. I think so, too, and the memory of my mother with the jar of peanut butter warms my heart and makes me laugh.”
Another entrant shared her recipe for Florentines, passed along to her by her now-deceased Grandma Selma, who got the recipe during one of her travels to Europe as a young piano student. Selma carried the recipe with her as she made her way back from Germany to the United States on an ocean liner, at the very same time meeting and falling in love with her future husband.
After careful consideration and recipe testing among our finalists, we are pleased to announce Linda Bebenroth’s Vanilla Rolls as this year’s winner. The tradition, spirit, love, and taste of what the magic of the holiday season is all about are packaged into these little gift-shaped sweets. Her story and recipe follows:
This is a recipe that was made by my maternal grandmother, my mother, and my aunts to celebrate the holidays.
My Mom and her sisters would argue about who would be the one to make this recipe to share with the family—but everyone would wait for them to appear on the dessert table, and the cookies would disappear before dinner was served.
They were not made for many, many years, but when my brother suffered a serious threat to his health five years ago, I wanted to do something memorable for him for Christmas. I found the handwritten recipe card tucked in the back of my Mom’s red and white Betty Crocker cookbook (original edition), and I made a batch for my brother for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. He was so overwhelmed by the gift of the tin of his favorite Vanilla Rolls cookies, which brought back many sweet memories of past family holiday celebrations (they were also a favorite of my Dad, who passed away in 1977.)
My brother’s good health has returned—and now he expects me to bake him those Vanilla Rolls for every Christmas Eve dinner. A small price to pay for the happiness/enjoyment the cookies bring to our holiday table!
Editor’s Note: Now’s the time to submit your recipe for the 2019 holiday cookie recipe contest. Snap a photo of your creations, and send your original cookie recipe to for a chance to win.
—Photos by Kathy Ames Carr

Vanilla Rolls