Cookie showdown: Ann vs. Michelle


The cookie vote could determine the presidential election.

First lady Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are facing off in the kitchen, each submitting a cookie recipe for Family Circle magazine’s Presidential Bake-off contest. The stakes are high: All previous winners — except for Cindy McCain in 2008 — went on to inhabit the White House.

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But in a trial baking and taste test conducted by The Hill, it seems clear these two women can match spatulas any time.

All previous winning entries contained oatmeal, something Ann Romney this year includes in her M&M Cookies. But Michelle Obama is a risk taker when it comes to her submissions. Her 2008 contender was Shortbread Cookies. This year, she submitted a recipe, which she credits to her daughters’ godmother, Mama Kaye, called White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, which also contain mint and walnuts.

The first lady is known for her healthy-eating advocacy and anti-childhood-obesity initiative Let’s Move, but the healthiest ingredient in Obama’s cookies is the walnuts. Obama stresses on the recipe that the cookies are meant for “special occasions.”

The combination of white chocolate, dark chocolate (the recipe doesn’t specify, so milk chocolate could also be used) and mint chips in Obama’s cookies, along with the walnuts, might sound overwhelming, but the combination actually works. The mint flavor and walnut crunch stand out the most. The recipe calls for mint chips or Andes mint pieces; in the test baking, chopped-up Andes mint bars were used (mint chips being hard to find).

The amount of fat (both butter and Crisco) means these cookies spread a lot in the oven and burn easily. Although the recipe doesn’t suggest this, the cookies turned out better when the dough was chilled briefly in the freezer before being scooped onto the pan.

Ann Romney wrote that she makes her cookies when the extended family gets together. Earlier this month, she posted a picture of herself making the cookies on her Pinterest page, a good indication she baked a batch for the Romney reunion over the Fourth of July.

Romney’s recipe instructions call for extremely large cookies, using an ice cream scoop for the dough. And, in a satisfying measure of culinary success, the final result looked exactly like the picture. The former Massachusetts first lady is meticulous in her recipe instructions, so success is within reach to those who read carefully.

Ann Romney’s cookies are also friendly to gluten-free diets, calling for no flour. The cookies, held together by oatmeal and eggs, stayed intact during transportation to the office. Obama’s cookies became cookie crumble, although they still won an informal office-wide vote 2-to-1 against Romney.

The Family Circle bake-off, which began in 1992, is decided entirely through user votes. Voting is open until Aug. 15 and the winner will be announced in the magazine’s November issue, available on newsstands Oct. 2.

Recipes are available at FamilyCircle.com/cookievote.