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Annual Staff Bake Off Contest

September 14, 2018

Thanks to all the participants for submitting entries to the Annual Staff Bake Off and to the judges.

Judges’ Choice Winner: Danielle Schweiloch—Toffee blondie bars

Peoples’ Choice Winner: Carlyn Miller—Sriracha Caramel Corn.


1.Summer Lemon Truffles-Submitted by Natalie Green 

Lemon Cookies


  • 1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature preferred
  • Zest of one lemon about 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • Optional: a few drops of yellow food coloring


  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In separate bowl beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and mix. Add in lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, and yellow food coloring (if using – max of 3 drops) and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Slowly add dry ingredients into above bowl and mix until completely combined
  4. Cover tightly and put in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill the dough.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and scoop rounded tablespoon sized pieces of cookie dough onto baking sheets. (I gently press the scoops down a bit)
  7. Bake in batches at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, another minute or two if you like crisp cookies Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Lemon Frosting

1 cup butter (softened)

5 cups powdered sugar

1 TB lemon zest

¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice



  1. In a mixer, cream together butter and lemon juice until completely combined
  2. Add powdered sugar to mixer slowly and continue to beat until creamy.


2.Summer Peach Truffles-Submitted by Natalie Green 

Shortbread Cookies


  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until just combined.
  3. Add the vanilla, mix
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture.
  5. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.
  6. Dump onto a flour dusted surface dusted and shape into flat disk.
  7. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  8. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter.
  9. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.


Peach Preserve Cream Cheese Frosting


  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 lg jar peach preserves


  1. In a mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, vanilla and preserves until completely combined
  2. Add powdered sugar to mixer slowly and continue to beat until creamy.


3. Lemon Bars-Submitted by Jeff Baxter 



Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: 20 mins | Total Time: 1 hour


For the pastry base

  • 1 cup cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour

For the lemon layer

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Zest of two lemons, very finely chopped
  • Juice of 2 lemons about 2/3 to 3/4 cup juice




To make the pastry base

  1. Using a pastry cutter or in a food processor blend together the butter sugar and flour.
  2. Press evenly into the bottom of a greased and parchment paper lined 9×13 inch baking pan.
  3. Bake for 20 to minutes at 350°F (325°F if you are using glass bakeware).The base should just be beginning to brown slightly at the top edges.

For the lemon topping

  1. Simply whisk together the sugar flour, eggs, zest and lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Allow the topping to sit for about 10 minutes before whisking together well again and pouring over the baked shortbread base.
  3. Bake at 350°F for about another 20- 25 minutes or until the top is slightly browned and the custard appears to be set. Let cool completely.
  4. Sprinkle with icing sugar when cool or try adding a meringue topping.


4.Pecan Tassies-Submitted by Maureen Reilly 



  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tblsp melted butter (I usually add a little bit more)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I usually add a little bit more)
  • Dash of salt
  • ¾ cup pecans – chopped into small pieces Make the filling:
  • Mix together the sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, and salt, removing any lumps from the sugar.  Add the pecans and mix well.


  • 1 ¼ cup all purpose white flour
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup butter

Make the crust: 

  • use the dough attachment of my kitchen aid mixer, otherwise mixing by hand may be best):
  • Cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and blended. 
  • Add the flour and mix until a dough forms.
  • Form the dough into a rectangular brick, wrap in saran wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for at least two hours.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  Work quickly because the dough is easier to work with when chilled.
  • Immediately cut into 24 evenly sized pieces. I cut it in half and half again and then cut each quarter into six cubes.
  • Roll each piece into a ball and place into small muffin tins.  (handle as little as possible to keep it chilled)
  • (I’m not sure the size, but its smaller than the mini tins I use for mini cupcakes.)
  • Using your fingers, press each ball into a crust, making sure there are no holes and that the top edge is above the ridge of the pan.
  • (you can buy a tool for this, but I find it is easier to do it by hand)
  • Fill each crust about ¾ full.   If you fill them too much, they will bubble over when cooking and get stuck to the pan. 
  • Bake at 325 for about 25 minutes or until the crusts are very slightly browned.  (I bake at 325 convection bake and start checking them at 20 minutes).
  • Transfer to a cooling rack as soon as they are cool enough to handle.  They will be easier to get out of the pan when still very warm, especially if the filling bubbled over.


 5. Nutter Butter Cake-Submitted Katie Thompson 

Prep Time: 40 mins, Cook Time: 30 mins, Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins 



Layer Cake:

  • 1box yellow cake mix
  • 1 1/4cups water
  • 1/2cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3cup vegetable oil
  • 3large eggs

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 1cup butter softened
  • 2cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6tablespoons milk
  • 4cups powdered sugar
  • 1package Nutter Butters


  1. For the layer cake: In a large mixing bowl, beat cake mix, water, peanut butter, oil and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured 9 inch round pans.
  2. Bake the cake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert the round cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  3. For the Peanut Butter Frosting: In a mixing bowl, blend together peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, and milk with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 3-3minutes or until light and fluffy.
  4. Level the cakes if necessary, then place one cake on a plate and frost the top. Place the other cake on top of that and frost the sides and top. Decorate as desired with piping rosettes and using Nutter Butters, large or bite-sized.

6. Compost Cookies-Submitted Susan Kahn  

YIELD:15 to 20 cookies, PREP:1 hour 30 minutes, COOK:18 minutes, TOTAL:2 hours

The famous Compost Cookie recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar.



For the Graham Crumb Mixture

  • ⅓ cup (48 grams) graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon milk powder
  • 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

For the Cookies

  • 1⅓ cups (225 grams) bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup (150 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (50 grams) glucose
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup (100 grams) mini butterscotch chips
  • Prepared graham mixture
  • ⅓ cup (40 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2½ teaspoons ground coffee
  • 2 cups (50 grams) potato chips
  • 1 cup (50 grams) mini pretzels


  1. Prepare Graham Mixture:In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt. Whisk together the butter and heavy cream, then add to the dry ingredients. Toss with a fork until the mixture is evenly moistened; set aside.
  2. Prepare the Cookie Dough:In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. Combine the butter, both sugars and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and continue to beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  5. Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham mixture, oats and coffee, and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and again, mix only until barely incorporated, 15 to 20 seconds.
  6. Using a 2¾-ounce ice cream scoop (or a ⅓-cup measuring cup), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week.
  7. Bake the Cookies:Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans (should be about 6 cookies per sheet).
  8. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case.
  9. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before serving or storing. The cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.


  • You can substitute 1 tablespoon light corn syrup for the glucose.
  • Do not use instant coffee or espresso powder in place of the ground coffee, as it will dissolve into the cookies, which it is not intended to do.
  • Pretzel recommendation: Snyders mini pretzels.
  • Potato chips recommendation: Cape Cod potato chips.


7. Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies with Dulce de Leche Filling-Submitted by Anna Reed

Yield: 24 sandwiches 



  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche* (recipe below) DO NOT SUBSTITUTE DULCE DE LECHE ICE CREAM TOPPING! 


  1. In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.
  2. Divide dough in half; cover and chill for 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.
  3. Shape each portion of dough into a 6-inch-long roll about 1-3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap rolls in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and chill about 4 hours or until dough is firm enough to slice.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.
  5. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.
  6. Spread dulce de leche on the bottom sides of half the cookies, using a rounded teaspoon of dulce de leche on each cookie. Top with remaining cookies, bottom sides down, pressing together lightly to make sandwiches.
  7. Store between layers of wax paper in the fridge for a few days.


*Dulce de leche* 

  • 1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk, label removed


  1. Place the can on its side in a large pot. Fill the pot with room-temperature water, making sure the water level is at least 2 inches above the can.
  2. Set pot over high heat and allow to come to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours for a lighter caramel, and up to 3 hours for a darker caramel; check the pot every 30 minutes to ensure the water level stays above the can by at least 1 inch, adding boiling water as necessary to top it up.
  3. Using a pair of tongs, remove the can from the water and set on a wire rack to cool to room temperature (important: do not attempt to open the can while still hot, which can cause pressurized hot caramel to spray dangerously. HOT & STICKY!!).


8. Toffee Blondie Bars-Submitted by Danielle Schweiloch 



For blondie cookie bar:

2 1/4 cups all‐purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed coconut sugar or brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups (12 oz bag) semi‐sweet chocolate chips


For the toffee:

2 sticks salted butter

1 cup sugar

1 (14‐ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup + 1 tablespoon agave (or 3 tablespoons maple syrup)

2 cups (12 oz bag) bittersweet chocolate chips



For the bar:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease 15 x 10‐inch jelly‐roll pan
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack

For the toffee:

Once blondie has cooled in pan, combine the butter, sugar, condensed milk, and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is boiling, continue to stir until it is thick and golden brown (but not burned), about 5‐7 minutes. Pour over the cooked blondie and allow to set at least an hour or as long as overnight.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave (see below). Spread over the cooled caramel layer, and cool completely. Cut into squares before serving.


To melt chocolate (From Cook’s Illustrated):


  1. Bring a pot of water to a near simmer over low heat; set a large heatproof bowl (the edges should overhang the pot for easier removal) over it, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl (to avoid overheating the chocolate).
  1. Add chocolate chips (or bar chocolate chopped into ½‐inch pieces) and heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until uniformly smooth and glossy, about 10 minutes (adjust the cooking time as necessary for larger or smaller amounts of chocolate).


  1. Put chocolate chips (or bar chocolate chopped into ½‐inch pieces) in a large microwave‐safe bowl. Microwave at high power for 45 seconds.
  1. Stir with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides of the bowl, then heat 30 seconds more. Continue heating and stirring for 15‐second intervals until the chocolate is uniformly smooth and glossy. (To melt smaller or larger amounts, decrease or increase the initial microwaving time by 10 seconds for every 2 ounces of chocolate.)

9. Sriracha Caramel Corn-Submitted by Carlyn Miller 

  • 6 cups of popped popcorn, used airpopper, so it is naked popcorn
  • ½ cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 6 oz butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of vanilla, used 2 capfuls
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • Sriracha to taste, used 2 tbsp

Pop your popcorn into a big mixing bowl. Heat the oven to 250°. Line a cookie sheet (or two) with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a saucepan, melt the butter on medium/ medium high. Once it’s all liquefied, add the brown sugar and stir till it is combined and has started bubbling. Let it bubble for three minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the sriracha, salt, vanilla, and baking soda. The mixture will bubble, but it’s no volcano. Once the three minutes for the sugar/ butter mix are up, remove the mix from the heat, and add the sriracha mix. Stir to combine then pour over the popcorn. Stir the popcorn to spread the mixture around. Dump the popcorn mix onto the cookie sheet(s) and spread it out evenly. The popcorn will now bake for 1 hr, but take it out every 15 minutes to stir the popcorn.