Elk­ton busi­nesses com­pete in 10th an­nual Cookie Throw­down

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART - By MAR­CUS DIETERLE mdi­[email protected]­cil­whig.com

ELK­TON — Grab a glass of milk and pre­pare your sweet tooth for the fight of its life as Main Street mer­chants par­tic­i­pate in a bit of friendly com­pe­ti­tion to crown this year’s best cookie in town dur­ing the Cookie Throw­down from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 7.

The throw­down is a fun event for cookie mon­sters of all ages, said Jes­sica Price, ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant at the Elk­ton Cham­ber and Al­liance.

“It’s just a good, fam­ily-friendly event; it’s free, and who doesn’t like cook­ies?” Price said.

The throw­down be­gan 10 years ago as a way to bring Elk­ton res­i­dents and visi­tors into The Palette & The Page, Price said.

Patti Paulus, one of the co-own­ers of the art shop and gallery on Main Street, said that at the time the own­ers all ser ved their own takes on choco­late chip cook­ies.

“It was just a fun thing that maybe would cre­ate some en­ergy and some fun and bring peo­ple in. And that’s what it did,” she said.

The an­nual event ex­panded into a com­pe­ti­tion among down­town mer­chants over the years, where busi­nesses could make any type or fla­vor of cookie — not just choco­late chip, Paulus said.

“It was about get­ting peo­ple to go into other places too, not just come to us,” she said.

At­ten­dees will be given bal­lots that they will hole punch at each par­tic­i­pat­ing shop as they taste the cook­ies. Once they have made their rounds, peo­ple will cast their vote for what they think was the best cookie. A tro­phy, which is passed down an­nu­ally from the pre­vi­ous year’s win­ner to the cur­rent victor, will be awarded at the end of the event.

The throw­down typ­i­cally fea­tures 10 dif­fer­ent cook­ies, ac­cord­ing to Price.

“We try to keep it around that num­ber just be­cause it gets to be too many. Peo­ple can’t eat that many,” she said.

Busi­nesses in down­town Elk­ton can sign up to bake their own cook­ies or host some­one else’s cook­ies. Price said non-mer­chants can par­tic­i­pate if there any slots left avail­able, but that the pri­mary em­pha­sis is on the mer­chants in or­der to draw peo­ple into the busi­nesses.

“The whole rea­son to do it was to get peo­ple down­town to get into the shops and see what they have to of­fer. So, we want to make sure that the shops have first dibs if they want to make a cookie,” she said.

Each par­tic­i­pat­ing baker will bring at least 200 cook­ies for at­ten­dees to taste.

“We used to just say 100, but last year we had peo­ple that made al­most 200 and they ran out,” Price said.

Bak­ers must also dis­play a list of in­gre­di­ents for any­one who has al­ler­gies. But Price said the list does not have to re­veal the recipe it­self, so par­tic­i­pants can keep mea­sure­ments and other vari­ables to them­selves.

With such a wide range of win­ners through­out the years, Price said there’s no sin­gle cookie fla­vor that has pre­vailed above the oth­ers.

“It’s pretty ran­dom ev­ery year,” she said. “In the very be­gin­ning, choco­late chips were win­ning. There was a peanut but­ter blos­som that won. Then it got more creative. There was a mo­lasses cookie that won. One year, one of the bak­eries made a pe­can pie cookie and that won.”

That last con­tender stands out to Price as one of her fa­vorites.

“I re­ally did like that pe­can pie cookie be­cause I’ve never seen any­thing like it be­fore,” she said.

Throw­down par­tic­i­pants find in­spi­ra­tion for their cook­ies in any­where from fam­ily recipes that have been passed down through gen­er­a­tions to cre­ations they find on­line to their own eclec­tic con­coc­tions, Price said.

But one of the most unique cook­ies Price has seen was a cookie with crab meat on it.

“Last year, we had some­one who pretty much was wing­ing it. Rob [Mas­simi­ano] at Tide­wa­ter Tat­too had a cookie that had crab meat on it,” she said. “As weird as it sounds, it ac­tu­ally wasn’t that bad. It came in sec­ond place.”

Price her­self won the throw­down one year with her peanut but­ter blos­som cookie, but re­tired from the good fight af­ter com­pe­ti­tion steep­ened.

“Now that we have so many that en­ter, I don’t even bother,” she said.

The reign­ing champ of the Cookie Throw­down, The Palette & The Page, se­cured a win last year with co-owner Patti Paulus’s thumbprint cook­ies that used but­ter­cream in the mid­dle in­stead of jelly.

Paulus said she would love for The Palette & The Page to win again this year, but she also likes see­ing the tro­phy get passed around town.

“It’s fine with me if the love is shared … Shar­ing the love is re­ally im­por­tant and that’s a big part of who we are,” she said.

How­ever, Paulus did add that fel­low co-owner Janet Youse, who is com­pet­ing for the shop this year, is “an ex­cel­lent baker” so the shop might be gear­ing up for back-to­back vic­to­ries.

Since the Cookie Throw­down’s early years, at­ten­dance has in­creased con­sid­er­ably, ac­cord­ing to Price.

“It seems like we get more and more peo­ple, so the pub­lic re­ally like it,” she said. “We have peo­ple that come with their own ther­mos of milk be­cause they love the cook­ies and they want to make sure they have that ex­pe­ri­ence.”

In pre­vi­ous years, the cookie throw­down has been a stand­alone event. But this year, the com­pe­ti­tion falls on the same night as Elk­ton’s First Fri­day art loop. Paulus ex­pects larger than usual crowds to at­tend the throw­down and the art ex­hi­bi­tions around town.

Price also hopes that First Fri­day will bring more peo­ple to the throw­down to taste treats and ex­plore down­town busi­nesses.

“The more peo­ple that come down here, the more peo­ple see the new shops that we have that they may not know ex­ist,” she said. “Any­time we can bring more peo­ple into the down­town, that’s pretty much our main goal.”

The col­lab­o­ra­tion among Elk­ton busi­nesses is great for the town, Paulus said.

“We, as a gallery and the own­ers, are all about mak­ing down­town a place to be and a des­ti­na­tion for shop­ping for unique things,” she said. “We’ve al­ways been about sup­port­ing that in ad­di­tion to sup­port­ing our artists.”

Santa will also be mak­ing an ap­pear­ance at the throw­down, where he will be scout­ing out which cook­ies to keep an eye out for Christ­mas Eve night when he and his rein­deer are fly­ing around Ce­cil County.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHO­TOS

Natalie Scheeler Ricci, owner Cookie Throw­down in 2013. of Belle Con­nell’s Em­po­rium, made th­ese salted caramel short­bread for Elk­ton’s

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