The 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off, reformatted from decades of traditions to allow America at large to judge the winner, announced the million-dollar winner Dec. 3. The contest, held in Nashville this year, culminated with the four finalists chosen at the event, and the $1 million winner announced on TV’s The Chew.
Beth Royals of Virginia won for her Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters. Officials says its sweet, salty and crunchy profile made it a taste favorite with the Ameircan public, who voted online to choose the winner. It beat out Cuban-style sandwich pockets, Creamy corn-filled sweet peppers and Chocolate doughnut poppers – the other finalists in the four main categories.
This year’s contest restricted cooks to seven ingredients or fewer, chosen from a list of product brands that fall under the Pillsbury family, such as Jif peanut butter or Crisco shortening or Green Giant vegetables.
The candy is made with vanilla baking chips, peanut butter, peanuts, toffee bits and baked pie crust dough. It’s done in the microwave; and testers say it’s smart to know your microwave wattage before cooking. Overcooking the vanilla baking chips results in a liquid goo that doesn’t set up properly.
Here’s the recipe, including tester’s notes.
Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters
- 1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
- 1 12-ounce bag white vanilla baking chips (2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon Crisco Baking Sticks vegetable shortening – butter flavor
- 1 tablespoon Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 cup salted cocktail peanuts
- 2/3 cup toffee bits
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with waxed paper and set aside.
Unroll pie crust on work surface. With a pizza cutter or knife, cut into 16 rows by 16 rows to make small squares. (They will not be uniform in size at edges of dough.) Arrange the pieces in a single layer on a large ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove squares from pan to a cooking rack and cool completely – 5 minutes.
In a large microwaveable glass bowl, microwave the baking chips, shortening and peanut butter on High power for 1 minute to 90 seconds, stirring once at around 30 seconds, until mixture can be stirred smooth. The chips will not all lose their shape as they melt – do not go by appearance alone. (Start at lowest time needed – do not overcook.)
Add pie crust squares, peanuts and tofee bits; stir gently until evenly coated.
Immediately drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the waxed paper-lined sheets. Note: If mixture becomes too thick, microwave on High for 15 seconds and stir again.
Refrigerate 15 minutes or until candies are set. Store in airtight container – these will last 2 weeks. Can also be frozen.
Makes approximately 30 candies.
For past Bake-Off winners, go to Pillsbury.com/recipes/bake-off to get the recipes.