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EatBeat: Pumpkin Ravioli Winner at 45th Pillsbury Bake-Off; Judges Unanimous in Deciding

March 27th, 2012 · No Comments

Pumpkin Ravioli, the 45th Pillsbury Bake-Off $1 million winner /photo courtesy Pillsbury

Get ready for a run on pumpkin – the winner at the 45th Pillsbury Bake-Off, the mac daddy of cooking awards, was a Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream.

Christina Verrelli of Devon, Pa., prepares her Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream at the Bake-Off held in Orlando. /photo courtesy Pillsbury.

Christina Verrelli, of Devon, Pa., took home $1 million for the recipe that judges scalled versatile, simple to make, innovative and delicious. The contest winners were announced live from the host hotel, the Peabody Orlando, on the Martha Stewart Show.

Judges call it close contest

Jeff Houck, a judge and food writer for the Tampa Tribune, said the other judges were all in agreement that the dish was worthy of $1 million. Judges were sequestered for nearly 11 hours, tasting well after the noon mark when all dishes were turned in.

“We literally went through our judging criteria sheets and checked off every box.” It met all the criteria for the winning recipe, though the other finalists – Sausage-Pomodoro Brunch Bake; Asparagus, Artichoke and Red Pepper Pizza and Chicken Empanada Cones – were close competition, he said.

“I don’t remember it ever being so close,” said Houck, a judge at the 2010 Bake-Off. “Each recipe had attributes we loved – the fresh ingredients on the pizza and the crunchiness of the crust – it was brilliant to add panko crumbs to make it so crispy.” The empanadas had “big bold flavors” derived from a can of drained black-bean soup. “That soup was remarkable,” Houck said.

As for the Brunch Bake, “Anybody could make that dish – we thought it could be great for tailgating, or a party, and the ingredients held up for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’m not selling anything, but those Muir Glen tomatoes tasted just like fresh tomatoes.”

The ravioli, however, had the extra something that pushed it to the top – even after judges questioned whether it might be too seasonal. “We decided it was versatile enough to use with any type of filling – but the pumpkin was just different enough,” he said. “It had the convenience of the ready-made dough and the home-cooking touch with the homemade cream on top.”

Verrelli, a homemaker with two young daughters, said she tried other fillings before deciding on pumpkin. “I tried cream cheese and raspberry, strawberry and other dips, and the pumpkin just came to me.”

She used Pillsbury’s Crescent Recipe Creations – a refrigerated roll of seamless dough that appeared in a number of recipes at the Bake-Off, including in several pizzas. Contestants had a list of products to choose from, including several Pillsbury products and sponsor’s products like JIF peanut butter, Muir Glen tomatoes, Progresso products, Fisher nuts, McCormick spices, Land o’ Lake foods, and Hershey’s products. Sponsors kicked in extra prize money if their product appeared in a winning recipe.

There were four prize categories – Breakfasts and Brunches, Sweet Treats, Dinner Made Easy and Entertaining Appetizers. The winners of the categories were eligible for the grand prize.

For all the winning recipes, look for the 100 Winning Recipes cookbook put out by the Pillsbury Bake-Off at grocery stands, or go to the Pillsbury website.

Here is the $1 million grand prize recipe.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream

Prep Time: 1 Hr 10 Min
Total Time: 1 Hr 10 Min
Makes: 12 (2 ravioli each) servings
4 tablespoons LAND O LAKES® Butter, melted
2 packages (3 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 LAND O LAKES® Egg Yolk
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/3 cup Fisher® Chef’s Naturals® Chopped Pecans, finely chopped
2 cans Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons Hershey’s® caramel syrup
4 tablespoons McCormick® Cinnamon Sugar
  • Heat oven to 375°F. Brush 2 large cookie sheets with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth. Add egg yolk, vanilla, sugar, 3 tablespoons of the flour and pumpkin pie spice; beat on low speed until blended. Reserve 4 teaspoons of the pecans; set aside. Stir remaining pecans into pumpkin mixture.
  • Lightly sprinkle work surface with 1 tablespoon of the flour. Unroll 1 can of dough on floured surface with 1 short side facing you. Press dough into 14×12-inch rectangle. With paring knife, lightly score the dough in half horizontally. Lightly score bottom half of dough into 12 squares (3×2 1/4-inch each). Spoon heaping tablespoon of the pumpkin filling onto center of each square. Gently lift and position unscored half of dough over filling. Starting at the top folded edge, press handle of wooden spoon firmly between mounds and along edges of pumpkin filling to seal. Using toothpick, poke small hole in top of each ravioli. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut between each ravioli; place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon flour, dough sheet and filling. Brush ravioli with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter.
  • Bake 9 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat whipping cream and salt with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in 2 tablespoons of the caramel syrup until stiff peaks form. Transfer to serving bowl; cover and refrigerate.
  • Remove ravioli from oven. Sprinkle ravioli with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar; turn. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar.
  • To serve, place 2 ravioli on each of 12 dessert plates. Drizzle each serving with scant teaspoon of the caramel syrup; sprinkle with reserved chopped pecans. With spoon, swirl remaining 1 tablespoon caramel syrup into bowl of whipped cream. Serve warm ravioli with whipped cream.

Nutrition Information:

1 Serving (1 Serving)

  • Calories 380
  • (Calories from Fat 220),
  • Total Fat 25g
  • (Saturated Fat 13g,
  • Trans Fat 1/2g),
  • Cholesterol 70mg;
  • Sodium 440mg;
  • Total Carbohydrate 35g
  • (Dietary Fiber 1g,
  • Sugars 16g),
  • Protein 4g;

Hershey’s® is a registered trademark of The Hershey Company. Bake-Off is a registered trademark of General Mills ©2012; Fisher® is a registered trademark of John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc. ©2012; LAND O LAKES is a registered trademark of Land O’Lakes, Inc., McCormick and the Mc logo are registered trademarks of McCormick & Company, Incorporated, used by permission.

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