CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Enny Williams wears the apron that she'll use in competition at the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Her Cereal-Almond Brittle recipe was selected as a finalist from among tens of thousands of entries.
Enny Williams' snack recipe wins the favor of Pillsbury Bake-Off judges
ENNY WILLIAMS' mother taught her that learning to cook would be her ticket to a good marriage. And it was. But those cooking skills have also turned out to be her ticket to Orlando, Fla., and the chance to win $1 million in the nation's top cooking competition.
Williams is heading to Orlando this week as a finalist in the 42nd Pillsbury Bake-Off. The recipe that she will prepare for a panel of judges is a Cereal-Almond Brittle. "I've been baking this for friends and family for a long time and they love it, so I decided to send it in," she said.
The Pillsbury Bake-Off, which runs Sunday through next Wednesday, offers the biggest prize in the country. Tens of thousands of entries are received and 100 finalists are chosen. This year, 35 states are represented and Williams is the only finalist from Hawaii. (Kristine Synder of Maui was the last local to represent the contest back in 2000. She took home a $2,000 prize for her Fiesta Shrimp Tacos with Cucumber Salsa.)
Williams said she had entered the contest for seven years, with no luck. Learning she was a finalist left her stunned.
"I jumped up and down. ... I cried and couldn't believe it," she said.
She called her husband first to share the good news and then her mother, who lives in Indonesia. "She is the one who taught me how to cook. She was so proud," she said.
Williams has fond childhood memories of the kitchen. She and her three sisters would gather with their mother and cook up a storm. "We had so much fun in the kitchen," she said.
The first Pillsbury Bake-Off was held in 1949 at New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Electricity from nearby subway tracks was tapped to power the finalists' 100 ranges, because the grand ballroom lacked alternating current.
"My mother told us if we wanted to get married, we needed to learn how to cook."
Indonesian cookies are William's favorite item to bake.
She said the Pillsbury judges are looking for something unique, simple and tasty. Dishes are judged for taste, appearance, creativity and consumer appeal.
"I spent a lot of time experimenting with different cereals," she said. Past recipes that Williams entered include a spinach quiche, chili, macaroni dishes and eggplant parmigiana.
When she gets to Orlando, she'll set up in one of 100 mini-kitchens at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. Williams will be allowed to make three batches of her snacks. "One is for display, one is for the judges and one for any guests you brought along," she said.
Finalists will wear special aprons by fashion and furniture designer Todd Oldham. Along with the grand prize of $1 million and a kitchen full of new appliances, seven additional awards of $10,000 will be presented -- including America's Favorite Recipe and the Receta Rica Award for creative use of Hispanic-inspired flavors. The American Dairy Association will also award three $10,000 prizes for recipes containing milk, cheese or yogurt.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Enny Williams' Cereal-Almond Brittle recipe was selected as a finalist from among tens of thousands of entries.
2 cups Cheerios cereal
2 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
2 cups uncooked oatmeal (rolled oats)
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup maple or maple-flavored syrup
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line 1 large (17-by-14 inch) pan or 2 smaller pans with foil; spray foil with cooking spray.
Combine cereals in large bowl; add oats and almonds.
In 1-quart saucepan, heat butter, brown sugar and syrup over medium heat, stirring frequently, until butter is melted and mixture boils. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until well coated. Spread mixture evenly on cookie sheet about 1/2 inch thick. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until almonds are golden brown. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Break into pieces. Store in tightly covered container. Serves 14.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 220 calories, 12 g total fat, 4.5 saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein.
On the Net:
» Visit www.pillsbury.com for a complete list of finalists, recipes and a contest history.