During the 2000 Bake-Off, Bobbie Sonefeld of South Carolina won for a Cream Cheese Brownie Pie — layers of brownie and cream cheese in a pie crust, topped with pecans and hot fudge. In 2002, Nashville accountant Denise Yennie won with Chicken Florentine Panini. She baked a refrigerated pizza crust and filled it with chicken breasts, frozen spinach, caramelized onions and provolone cheese.
Carolyn Gurtz of Gaithersburg, Md., won in 2008 for Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies, which had a pocket of creamy filling inside. When I got home from the Bake-Off, I wanted to make the cookies but couldn't find Pillsbury's peanut butter cookie dough. I use my from-scratch dough recipe and added the peanut butter filling for a similar version.
In 2010, Sue Compton's Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups took the top prize. It happened that this was the last entry I tasted as I left the Bake-Off floor. I loved the pretty raspberry garnish, and they had a nice mouth-feel of cold, creamy and crunch. But I certainly didn't predict that it was THE recipe to win the big bucks.
To me, the cachet of the Bake-Off is that an "everyday" home cook — who isn't a movie star, a corporate pirate, a reality-show survivor or even a celebrity chef — can use a little creativity and walk away with a million dollars.
Whether from scratch or not, that's still the stuff American dreams are made of.
Valerie Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor. She blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com.