Think your signature recipe is worth a million bucks? Christina Verrelli of Devon, Pennsylvania, learned today that her Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream isn't just a crowd-pleaser; it's a cash cow.
Verrelli bested 94 women and five men ranging in age from 25 to 77, both new and veteran Pillsbury Bake-Off finalists to earn a prize of $1 million in the 45th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest. Her victory was announced today on a live broadcast of "The Martha Stewart Show," at the Peabody Orlando Hotel in Florida.
In a press release, Jeff Houck, food editor at the Tampa Tribune said, “This recipe really pushed the boundaries on the definition of a ravioli.” He also praised the recipe's seasonal versatility.
Martha Stewart concurred, saying, “Christina’s recipe is an innovative and sweet take on a traditional, savory favorite: it's not like any ravioli I've ever tasted."
“I can see how this winning recipe dazzled the judges, and I think it will inspire other home cooks around the country to make it for their family and friends,” Stewart continued.
In addition to Verrelli's grand prize, the three additional category winners - Terri Sherman of Palos Heights, Illinois, Maria Vasseur of Valencia, California, and Donna Wolfe of Hamilton, New Jersey - were awarded $5,000 and $3,000 worth of GE kitchen appliances.
Contestants, who must be amateurs, have been tossing their toques into the ring since the Bake-Off's inception in 1949. That year, Theodora Smafield of Rockford, Illinois, took home $50,000 for her No-Knead Water-Rising Twists recipe - a sum doubled from the advertised $25,000 pot by a promotional token that she'd run across two months before.
Though her initial win stirred a national obsession with the contest, it still took 44 years for a man - Kurt Wait - to rise to the top with a Macadamia Fudge Torte in 1996.
The finished dishes are judged on taste, appearance, creativity and consumer appeal. They must also use at least two qualifying ingredients from a product list, follow contest rules and fit into one of the assigned four categories.
Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream
Prep Time: 1 Hr 10 Min
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.
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