That time we did a chocolate chip cookie contest

It’s a question as old as time (well, almost): What makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie?

Some people like them chewy, some like them crispy, some load ‘em up with nuts – and some like to add random ingredients (what?). So in the spirit of science, we held an entire-office chocolate chip cookie bakeoff, complete with cold, palate-cleansing glasses of milk.

Our finest bakers went forth, baked their favorite chocolate chip cookies and brought them in to share. To make sure each baker had a fair shot, the batches of cookies were each assigned a number and displayed anonymously.

Chocolate chip cookie contest SamChocolate chip cookie contest winnerChocolate chip cookie contest Tina

Then came the taste testing! Everyone loaded up their plates, sampled the goods and voted for their top three cookies.

In between bites, we all participated in a simple poll (science!) to see our overall chocolate chip cookie preferences. Turns out, it doesn’t matter if the cookies are thick or thin, as long as they are big and chewy. And the people have spoken: NO NUTS.

As for the final results of the bakeoff…here’s the winning recipe (#9!) submitted by Steph Ward:

Note:  Works best with an automatic mixer so mixer can mix while you pour in ingredients.


  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg
  • Vanilla to taste (1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon dependent on your like)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


  • Heat oven to 375º F.
  • In bowl, combine milk, eggs and vanilla (wet ingredients).
  • In another bowl, combine baking soda, flour and salt (dry ingredients).
  • Melt butter and pour into mixing bowl.
  • Add both brown and white sugars to mixing bowl.
  • Turn on mixer and start mixing in wet and dry ingredients alternating between both. (Works best by taking half a cup of wet ingredients, half a cup of dry, wet, dry, etc).
  • On ungreased cookie sheet, put cookie dough on sheet in small quarter size.
  • Bake until edges are cooked but center looks wet.

Caramel pecan trifle

Recipe developed by greens & chocolate


  • 1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 pints heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-12 ounce jar caramel sauce
  • 1-12 ounce jar chocolate syrup
  • 2 cups chopped toasted pecans


  1. Heat oven to 350º F.
  2. Mix cake mix, water, vegetable oil and eggs for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. While cake is baking, toast pecans in a sauté pan until fragrant or on a baking sheet at 350F for 5-10 minutes.
  5. In large bowl or stand mixer, combine whipping cream and powdered sugar and whip with electric mixer on high speed until medium peaks form.
  6. When cake is done baking, let cool completely and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  7. In a large trifle bowl, line the bottom with one layer of cake pieces. Top with heavy drizzles of caramel and hot fudge, a sprinkle of pecans and cover with a layer of whipped cream.
  8. Repeat until all of the cake is used.  
  9. Top with additional drizzle of caramel, chocolate, and pecans.

One-pot weeknight spaghetti

Recipe developed by greens & chocolate


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 28 ounces jar spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups water (plus up to ¾ cup more, added as you cook, see recipe notes)
  • 12 ounces spaghetti noodles
  • Parmesan cheese, for topping


  1. In large pot, brown the beef.
  2. When all beef is browned, remove from pot and set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to pot over medium-high heat and saute onion and bell pepper.
  4. Add garlic and saute one more minute.
  5. Season with salt.
  6. Add beef back to pot along with spaghetti sauce and water.
  7. Bring to a simmer and then add noodles. Submerge noodles in the sauce. As much as possible. Cook according to directions on package.
  8. If the sauce is too thick and the noodles are not cooked yet, add more water, ¼ cup at a time, up to ¾ cup more and cook until noodles are done.
  9. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.