Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

When I retire from the world of catering, I think I'll get my food kicks from entering cooking and baking contests. And just maybe I'll win a million dollars like Anna Ginsberg of Cookie Madness did in the 2006 Pillsbury Bake-Off competition and most recently Carolyn Gurtz,who is the 43rd grand prize winner of the Pillsbury competition. She won the $1,000,000 grand prize plus an additional $5,000 Jif Peanut Butter Award. Not bad, eh?

The winning recipe was forwarded to me in a email originating from my mother's friend, Jennifer. She gave it rave reviews, so it quickly moved to the top of my "Must Try" pile. I had the perfect opportunity last week when I filmed my latest (and what will be my last) round of cooking shows that air on a local TV channel here in Hot Springs. I'm always looking for quick and easy things since I only have about 7-10 minutes of air time and this recipe fit the bill. Carolyn's recipe can be found on the Pillsbury website, complete with reviews. It's no surprise that the 89 reviews were mixed from good to bad to ugly - different people like different things. But it always amazes me when people, who clearly did not follow the original recipe in the first place, leave a bad review. I mean, c'mon people, how can you deem something "not so good" if you didn't follow the directions in the first place! One reviewer said he/she was surprised that the recipe won because it used pre-packaged items. That's the whole idea of the contest!! To use a Pillsbury product!! The recipe won because, as one judge put it, Gurtz’s recipe surpassed the 99 other competitors as the grand prize winner for its simplicity and approachability, allowing the home cook to take a convenience product and turn it into an unexpected cookie that bursts with layers of peanut butter flavor.

I agree wholeheartedly. The cookies were easy to make and I'll admit that I did leave out one of Carolyn's steps. I used my fingers to smoosh (there's a nice culinary term) the cookies. I think her method of spraying the glass and using it was an attempt to add another product in her recipe that was on the approved list of products to use. My fingers worked just as well. If I found myself with a roll of prepared peanut butter cookie dough, I'd definitely make these again. Congrats Carolyn and thanks Jennifer for bringing this to my attention!

Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies
by Carolyn Gurtz, Pillsbury Grand Prize winner

1/4 cup Fisher® Dry Roasted Peanuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup Domino® or C&H® Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup JIF® Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Domino® or C&H® Confectioners Powdered Sugar
1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® Create ‘n Bake® refrigerated peanut butter cookies, well chilled

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, mix chopped peanuts, granulated sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
2. In another small bowl, stir peanut butter and powdered sugar until completely blended. Shape mixture into 24 (1-inch) balls.
3. Cut roll of cookie dough into 12 slices. Cut each slice in half crosswise to make 24 pieces; flatten slightly. Shape 1 cookie dough piece around 1 peanut butter ball, covering completely. Repeat with remaining dough and balls.
4. Roll each covered ball in peanut mixture; gently pat mixture completely onto balls. On ungreased large cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart. Spray bottom of drinking glass with CRISCO® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray; press into remaining peanut mixture. Flatten each ball to 1/2-inch thickness with bottom of glass. Sprinkle any remaining peanut mixture evenly on tops of cookies; gently press into dough.
5. Bake 7 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Store tightly covered.

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