• Gina Rullo

It is beginning to smell a lot like Christmas cookies


The Gazette Cookie Bake-Off will be held December 9, 2021. (Courtesy Photo)

Can you smell it? Step outside and take a whiff? Do you smell it now?


Vanilla, hints of cinnamon and brown sugar and the slightest hint of nutmeg.


It is Christmas cookie season.


Let’s preheat the ovens and let the butter soften.


I think it is fitting that “The Great British Bake Off” just finished its latest season on Netflix and now it is time for The Gazette Cookie Bake-Off.


And we cannot wait.


Our judges are ready. Six adventurous adults are ready to taste your best sweet treats. For some, this is the culmination of a lifelong passion for cookies. For others, they do it as a favor to us. For a few, they love the challenge of tasting and judging all the cookies.


Diets be damned on December 9.



To enter, each contestant needs to submit one dozen cookies by 5 p.m. on Thursday, December 9 along with the recipe. Entries should be dropped off at The Gazette offices at 14 Tilton Street. There is no entry fee. The recipes will be published in the December 15 edition. There is no purchase necessary to enter.


The categories are as follows: Chocolate Chip, Holiday Cookies, Pizzelle & Bar Cookies and Other. Contestants may enter all categories.


I know I can count on my dear friends Tonilyn, Kim and Mary to bake every year. Each joining the group trying to win a coveted medal.


How special is this event? Well, it was made clear that I am not the only one who loves this event. In the obituary of Anthony J. Passalacqua, it said he “enjoyed cooking and baking and he won several gold medals from The Gazette for his baked goods.”


I am not going to lie, that line made me tear-up a little.


It is a special day for the newspaper as people bring their cookies, share their stories behind the cookies and the whole office smells like a sweet shop.


It is a wonderful day.


This is an excellent event to join. You don’t have to be an excellent baker. You just have to submit one dozen cookies. Our judges love the simple ones as well as the elaborate ones.


Bakers please join us on December 9. Find that old recipe or jot down the one you know from heart. Share a little baking love with your fellow Gazette readers.


You don’t have to do it for me as I don’t judge. I just like the atmosphere.


Don’t do it for anyone but yourself.


And maybe do it for Anthony Passalacqua who will not be joining us this year.


I hope to see you and your cookies on December 9.


Happy baking.



Gina Rullo is the editor-in-chief of The Hammonton Gazette and recently won two awards for investigative journalism.