After a fun day at the 43rd Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off, I couldn’t wait until I got to the awards ceremony this morning to see who had won. Fortunately, the ceremony started at 7:30 am central time and I didn’t have to wait for long until the master of ceremonies (and semi-homemade cooking) Sandra Lee took the stage and started to read the winners.
Prizes were announced for each of the five categories: Breakfast & Brunches, Pizza Creations, Entertaining Appetizers, Old El Paso Mexican Favorites and Sweet Treats. The grand prize winner was selected from the category winners, each of whom also won $5,000.
I’m not going to keep anyone in suspense here. The winner of the $1 million dollard grand prize was Carolyn Gurtz (pictured above) with her Sweet Treats recipe for Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies. The cookies use refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough and shape it around a ball of what is essentially peanut butter candy. The overall effect is a good one, although I admit that I would try the filling with one of my regular peanut butter cookie dough recipes, refrigerating the dough and using it in place of a store-bought version. (Update: I made a homemade version of the winning recipe!) Carolyn also won the sponsor award for best use of Jif Peanut Butter, bringing her total prize money to $1,010,000!
The other winners were:
- Breakfast & Brunches: Pamela Shank’s Mascarpone-Filled Cranberry Walnut Rolls
- Pizza Creations: Niki Plourde’s Apple Jack Chicken Pizza with Caramelized Onions
- Entertaining Appetizers: Edgar Rudberg’s Salmon Pastries with Dill Pesto
- Old El Paso Mexican Favorites: Vanda Pizzanghera’s Mexican Pesto Pork Tacos
One final prize was for “America’s Favorite Recipe,” an award that was based on the recipe that received the greatest number of votes on the Pillsbury bake-off website once the recipe was put online. Another $5,000 prize, that one went to Gwen Beauchamp’s recipe for Toffee Banana Brownies. I tried this recipe and the result was actually quite tasty, as the brownies have toffee bits, chopped bananas and macadamia nuts mixed in and are topped with caramel. Of course, like the peanut butter cookies, I’d try it with a from-scratch brownie recipe instead of a mix, but the idea of using all those flavors is a good one that works out well.
Overall, I had a great time at the Bake Off and while tasting dishes was fun, nothing was as fun as meeting all the wonderful people there. Thanks for making the 2008 Bake-Off a great one and – since I know that several of the contestants are readers of mine – a special thanks to everyone who tracked me down to say hi over the course of the event!