SIOUX CITY -- The Alice Lloyd College Eagles Monster cookies soared above the competition by snagging a first-place finish in the Sioux City Journal's Division II NAIA Cookie Challenge.
Recipes from 12 of the 32 participating teams were submitted and the top vote-getters, based upon the results of an online contest on the Journal's website, were baked, sampled and judged by an elite team of taste-testers.
The Pippa Passes, Kentucky-based Alice Lloyd College was able to beat out the University of Rio Grande's Brookie's Cookie Bars -- an early favorite -- by 2,464 votes.
When the contest ended Monday morning, Alice Lloyd captured an incredible 210,409 votes to the Rio Grande, Ohio-based University of Rio Grande almost-as-impressive 207,945 votes.
Yet it was the third place-finisher that captured the sweet tooth of Chef Al Clark, of Spectra Food Services and Hospitality.
"As much as I loved (Alice Lloyd College's) Monster cookie, the (University of Antelope Valley's) Macadamia, Cranberry and White Chocolate cookie just hit the right note for our five-person panel of judges," Clark said.
The Lancaster, California-based University of Antelope Valley Pioneers' entry received 120,628 votes.
"Personally, I love Monster cookies because oatmeal, peanut butter and M&Ms are such a winning combination," Clark explained. "Having said that, the University of Antelope Valley's entree simply had a more balanced flavor."
After all, chopped macadamia nuts produced a good crunch, chopped white chocolate gave it a clean sweetness while the one-half cup of cranberries provided a contrasting sweetness.
"That's really what we're looking at in an award-winning cookie," Clark said. "It's easy to produce a chocolate chip cookie or a Monster cookie. Instead, we're looking complex flavors that work in harmony with all ingredients."
Which is a tall order for any cookie recipe, right?
Not so, said Clark.
"We had some outstanding recipes, this year, and everybody should be proud of their recipes," he said. "Whether it has complex ingredients or simple ones, cookies can rise and fall on its flavors. We taste-tested some delicious cookies and had a blast doing it."