Bonus Cookie, and Winner of the Food Person Cookie Search

By: Melanie Rehak

Cooking Channel is joining Food Network for our first annual cookie swap, 12 Days of Cookies. Each day, visit us here for a look at new holiday cookies, party-planning tips and top techniques for rolling, spooning, slicing, baking and decorating delicious sweet treats to give — or keep — from favorite chefs and Food People. Then visit FoodNetwork.com/12daysofcookies for great takes on holiday baking from Food Network chefs — cookies by the dozen to celebrate all season.

12 Days of Cookies has been a huge success, thanks in large part to the talented chefs who unveiled their top-tier holiday cookie recipes to us. But also because of you, the Food People, who continually share with us your amazing recipes and tips for delicious, home-cooked recipes.

Last month we put out the call for a *Bonus Fan Cookie*, and received numerous tasty entries. But our pick for chief cookie goes to food blogger Mihaela Pesa Dascalu, and her recipe for Romanian Holiday Cookies.

These are authentic Romanian treats. Very authentic. Mihaela grew up in Romania, and her family baked these cookies every December. The recipe, in fact, had to be translated from the original Romanian script the recipe card was written in. The secret to the incredible texture is—Shh!—cutting the flour with the original baker's fat: lard. Don't scoff before trying one of these cookies. Baking with lard produces an exceptionally tender crumb.

The batter is flavored with lemon zest and nutmeg, and piped into flower-shaped rosettes. Mihaela finishes the cookies off with a roasted walnut in the center, but she insists you can feel free to decorate them however you like.

Just remember to make a big batch—they taste even better the next day, so you'll want to keep the cookie jar full.

12 Days of Cookies:

How would you shape your holiday cookie?

Melanie Rehak, author of Eating for Beginners, has been baking cookies since she was old enough to climb onto the kitchen stool. She's partial to Zimtsterne—cinnamon stars—for the holidays, but loves most cookies all year long.

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