By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Dec 19, 2012 at 3:38 PM

How does salted caramel strike you?

It struck gold for Mary Lamb, this year's winner of Milwaukee's Favorite Cookie Contest, sponsored by Marcus Restaurants.

Her dark chocolate-caramel sea salt dreams cookies won the hearts of the judges, including Marcus pastry chef Jennifer Carlson.

Carlson says her favorite part of the contest is the chance to help others. For the fourth year in a row, Marcus chefs will drop off 500 cookies to Hope House in Milwaukee, an emergency and transitional living facility serving those in need of food and shelter.

"We're taking the time to bake and deliver these cookies once again this year because they're going to an amazing organization," Carlson says. "Hope House is a true community supporter and we're honored to play a small role in helping to make the season a little brighter for its guests."

Cookie contest winner Mary Lamb will receive a private baking lesson with along with five of her closest friends from The Pfister pastry chef Jennifer Carlson, dinner for two and hotel stay at one of Marcus Hotels Milwaukee properties, plus a $150 Pick 'n Save gift card.

Dark Chocolate-Caramel Sea Salt Dreams

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cut up soft caramels
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Coarse or flaked sea salt

1. Line baking sheets with parchment.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Beat the butter until light and fluffy.
4. Add white and brown sugars and beat until light and fluffy.
5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.
6. Beat in vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
7. Mix well.
8. Stir into butter mixture until well blended.
9. Stir in the caramels and dark chocolate chips.
10. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto parchment.
11. Slightly flatten each cookie, then sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.
12. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just set.
13. Slightly cook on baking sheet before moving to wire rack to cool completely.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.