Bake it off: 'Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters' recipe wins $1M in Pillsbury Bake-Off

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The holiday season is prime baking time, and there are loads of new recipes available from any number of sources for the adventurous among us to try.

It's nice when someone else does the recipe testing – saves us the trouble. And a couple of annual contests did just that, naming their award winners and sharing their recipes. Here they are.

Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest

Beth Royals of Richmond, Virginia, was named the winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off Wednesday on ABC’s “The Chew,” in New York City for her Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters. The outcome was based on the judging panel at the contest in Nashville on Nov. 3, as well as online voting over the past four weeks.

It was the first time in the Pillsbury Bake-Off's 65-year history that members of the public helped determine the outcome.

“They are sweet, salty and have a great crunchy texture," said Jann Atkins, Bake-Off Kitchens manager. “This dish is easy to make and it stores very well, making it a great contribution to holiday parties and potlucks.”

Royals was one of four finalists named at the awards show last month.

The other three were Courtney Sawyer of Bellingham, Washington, for Cuban-Style Sandwich Pockets; Jody Walker of Madison, Mississippi, for Creamy Corn-Filled Sweet Peppers; and Megan Beimer of Alexandria, Virginia, for Chocolate Doughnut Poppers.

You can find all four recipes here.

Here's a video time-lapse of the bakeoff awards show on Nov. 3.

While online voters apparently thought the recipe was a winner, Star Tribune food columnist Lee Svitak Dean raised a couple of questions about the entry:

  • Is a treat made of packaged ingredients, including premade pie crust, really worth $1 million?
  • Should it really be considered cooking?

She also notes that the recipe is a bit of a takeoff on a Pearson's Salted Nut Roll, with its bits of baked pie crust, vanilla chips, peanut butter and peanuts.

Star Tribune's Holiday Cookie Contest

Judges in the Star Tribune's 12th annual Holiday Cookie Contest solicited recipes from bakers around the region beginning in October, and culled through the original list of 283 of them to settle on 31 finalists.

After baking them all and tasting them all, the judges came up with a clear winner and four really good runners-up.

The winning cookie recipe is for Italian Almond Cookies, submitted by William Teresa of Minneapolis.

The finalists are Tart and Sassy Cranberry Lemon Drops, Chocolate Peppermint Cookies, Espresso-Hazelnut Truffle Cookies and Macadamia Nut Tarts.

You can find the recipes for those five cookies here.

... And there's more

Still need other ideas? Here are a few more local sources for holiday recipes (No grape salad listed on any of them).

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