Pastry Chicago, an organization comprising professional pastry chefs, pastry students and people who enjoy pastry, recently announced the winners of its 5th Annual Amateur/Student Cookie Competition, held Aug. 25 at Whole Foods Market in Chicago’s South Loop.

Pastry Chicago competition winners

The event featured 25 bakers who incorporated almonds and California raisins into recipes ranging from new interpretations of oatmeal raisin cookies with almonds to French macaroons with raisin ganache.

Competition judges were Larry Blagg, The California Raisin Marketing Board, Fresno, Calif.; Terry Carlton, Whole Foods Market; Gloria Hafer, After School Matters, Chicago; Amy Hansen, Amy’s Candy Bar, Chicago; Anne Shaeffer, Sulpice Chocolat, Chicago; and Javier Trujillo, Kaufman’s Delicatessen & Bakery, Skokie, Ill. The final scores were based on taste (60%), texture (25%), presentation and appearance (10%) and punctuality and professionalism (5%).

The following individuals were named winners of Pastry Chicago’s cookie competition:

First place – Jayma Smith (second from left), lemon sablé sandwich cookies with dates and goat cheese.

Second place – Camille Fernandez-Lopez (second from right), almond-ginger whoopie pies with rum raisin filling.

Third place – Meredith Traudt (far right), almond raisin caramel cookies.

Fourth place – Deena Stovall (far left), raisin crèmes, Norwegian almond wafers filled with brandied raisins and buttercream.

Fifth place – Marguerite Dawson (third from right), almond raisin cookie truffles covered in white chocolate.

The winners received prizes from KitchenAid and California Raisins, and their recipes are available at

Pastry Chicago will host its 5th Annual Amateur Student Pie Competition on Sept. 29 at The French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College, 226 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago. For information, visit or follow Pastry Chicago on Facebook and Twitter.