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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: December 11, 2013

Kransekake Sticks win MaineToday’s first-annual Holiday Cookie Contest

Written by: Susan Axelrod

Alexandra Daley-Clark with her first-prize, a Deluxe Baker’s Box from King Arthur Flour. (Photo by Ted Axelrod)

In the end, it was a deceptively simple-looking Norwegian almond and butter cookie, one end dipped in chocolate and coated with nuts, that was the first-place winner in’s Holiday Cookie Contest.

Kransekake Sticks Dipped in Chocolate (Photo by Ted Axelrod)

At the contest finals event last night, held at Grace Restaurant, a panel of professional pastry chef judges, Tara Smith of Standard Baking Co., Alysia Zoidis of East End Cupcakes and Ilma Lopez of Piccolo and Blue Rooster Food Co. chose Alexandra Daley-Clark’s Kransekake Sticks Dipped in Chocolate as the winner.

Cookie contest judges, from left: Tara Smith, Standard Baking Co.; Ilma Lopez, Blue Rooster Food Co. and Piccolo; Alysia Zoidis, East End Cupcakes (Photo by Ted Axelrod)

Carol Marshburn’s Lebkuchen, a richly flavored German-spice cookie, came in second and Jessie Grearson’s delicate, honey-scented White Christmas Cherry-Pistachio Florentines took third prize. The People’s Choice Award, voted on by guests at the event, went to Karen Watterson’s Maine Macaroon Mountains.

From left: Lebkuchen, second place; White Christmas Cherry-Pistachio Florentines, third place; Maine Macaroon Mountains, People’s Choice Award (Photo by Ted Axelrod)

From left: Ilma Lopez, judge; Carol Marshburn, second-place; Alysia Zoidis, judge; Tara Smith, judge; Alexandra Daley Clark, winner; Lisa DeSisto, Maine Today Media publisher and CEO; Karen Watterson, People’s Choice Award; Jessie Grearson, third-place; Valerie Stone, finalist. (Photo by Ted Axelrod) thanks all the contestants, the judges, the team at Grace and King Arthur Flour — who provided the generous prizes — for making the contest such a success. We can’t wait for next year!

See a gallery of photos from the event

Recipes for the winning cookies, finalists and more

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