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It’s that time of year again — when the air is filled with wonder, along with the crisp scent of evergreen and peppermint. There’s hot cocoa in your mug, gloves on your hands and a general feeling of good will towards people. We reach out to family and friends near and far with tidings of good will and seek way to exercise our inner Scrooge by helping those who need a little bit of hope.

The staff here at MercerMe is also preparing for the holidays, but we want to bring you a little something more than just your basic decking the halls.  Yes…we thought we would bake some cookies.

Now, here‘s where we’ve veered off a bit and thought we’d find a great way to bring neighbors together for an event where they would leave as friends or… not.  So, we thought we’d have a cookie exchange but with a bit of spice.  We yelled an invitation into cyberspace, the suckers came running and, thus, the 1st Annual MerceMe Cut Throat Cookie Exchange was born.

If you can’t tell that I plan on winning this competition I do… and I will.  The trash talk that has been spewing from wanna-be bakers who think they can best me with store brand flour, margarine (yuck) and imitation vanilla (abomination), is laughable and all in good fun.  However, I do believe some are actually starting to believe they will prevail.  Obviously it’s time to gut check some of these disillusioned Arm & Hammer sniffers with my glazed Martha Stewart cutting board and William Sonoma monogrammed measuring cups. This is not an event for the mild mannered!!  Let the smack talking begin!

We have 22 bakers who will go head-to-head on December 5, at 4pm, in a friendly but spirited “competition” to see who can bring home the “Gold Medal.” We have young and older, male and female, 4 categories for one grand prize. The flour will be flying and there will be plenty of bakers ducking the oddly thrown rolling pin as each one of these would-be champions presents their best cookie to the five judges.  The rules are simple: the cookies MUST be homemade, absolutely no bar or pan cookies, and you must make at least 45 cookies.  

The categories that will be judged are: best looking, most original, best tasting, and all around best cookie. The winner receives a token of complete baking domination and bragging rights for a year, along with a modest prize.  

“We hope this competition will get community members together, celebrate the season, introduce people to MercerMe beyond the cyber-world, and just have a good time,”  said Mary Galioto, MercerMe Editor and Publisher. “In the future, we would love to see different communities and groups of people in the Mercer County area host these cookie exchanges.”

While there can only be one grand prize winner, all the bakers will be leaving with a box of over 40 cookies, with 22 varieties. I am also a baker in the competition and, as I have told all the contestants who actually think they will beat me, I’ve already won.  

Stay tuned for trash talking quotes from the participants in the wind-up to the event on December 5th. We will post these quotes on MercerMe. And while you’re all reading those, I’ll be polishing my crown.

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Renata Barnes
Renata is the author of "The Taste Chase," MercerMe's own food review column. She's a lover of all things poetic, colorful, funny and inspiring. A native New Yorker, who grew up in Hopewell Valley and spent the better part of her adulthood back in NYC, currently finds herself in a growing love relationship with “the Valley”. Latin food, Indian saris and mehndi, French perfume, African music, Middle Eastern spices, South American jewels, Asian fabrics and anything from just about any island (maybe not Riker’s Island) are things that remind her to go out and taste the world, live passionately and always wear deodorant. The mother of one rambunctious boy and the wife of a mellow fellow, Renata tries to put her too many years of university and her film and writing talents to good use here in NJ. “I’ve spent too much time trying to fit in some where when I probably belong everywhere. That slow revelation has been freeing.”

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