Blogger’s Choice Award: Candied Bacon and Apple Canapés

I’m currently on my way back from Pillsbury Bake-Off 2010 in Orlando, riding in the back seat of my personal “contract killa’s” car.

Yes, on my laptop, trying to get this post up before the winner is announced in a few hours, just so we could say “We told you so!”

More on him later, the contract killa, that is. That post on him will come, I promise.

A few of us fellow bloggers were invited by Pillsbury for the weekend to catch the mother of all cooking contests, the Pillsbury Bake-Off 2010, where the grand prize is $1 million dollars (oh yes, I just did say that in my Austin Power voice!).

So, if you’ve never ever been to a cooking competition, let me set the scene. The room is packed. 100 contestants. 200 fans, supporters, media, staff. The Bake-Off begins with a parade of the contestants.

I’m in the back. And I’m short.

So I threw my camera up in the air hoping to catch a shot. Oooh such excitement!

So orderly. They all line up in front of their kitchen stations. If I was a contestant and there was a cool million at stake, I think I’d get lost in this sea of talent.

Blogger’s Choice Award

But I’m here to talk about one finalist today, her name is Stephanie, and we bloggers who attended, chose Stephanie as our Blogger’s Choice Award.

Which isn’t an official award at all.

In fact, we didn’t even give her a prize other than our silly stamp of approval and a pat on the back.

Oh, and really, there was only a handful of us bloggers who had made this Blogger’s Choice Award decision: Marc of No Recipes, Lori of Cowboy’s Wife/My Wooden Spoon, Vanessa of Chef Druck, Jessica of Food Mayhem, Tina of Carrots N Cake, Carol NYCityMama, Jennifer of In Jennie’s Kitchen

Do you want to know why we chose her? Take a look. This is candied bacon.

But no Stephanie to be found! There’s evidence that she’s been hard at work at her station:

But…but…but…no more samples. Boo.

As I was giving the others my sad-pout – this beautiful angel shows up! This is Stephanie Lemus of Westlake Village, California. What a smile!

Do you want a taste?

Oh, I love her. And to top it all off – she’s a Steamy Kitchen reader. {heart}

Candied bacon joy. Salty, sweet, creamy, crunchy, sour.

Category winner will be announced tonight 10pm EST, the four category winners will be flying to Chicago to be on Oprah’s show, who will be announcing the Grand Prize $1 million dollar winner!

We’re predicting Stephanie, our Blogger’s Choice Award Winner! Stephanie works at Microsoft and this is her very first contest. She loves to bake, and in fact has an archive of over 300 recipes on her hard drive. Honey, that sounds like a future food blog to me!

Right after the dish was delivered to the judges, I recorded a little message from Stephanie with a little heartbreaking news about her dog {prayer}.

UPDATE: Full list of Pillsbury Bake-Off category winners (while Stephanie didn’t win – WE STILL LOVE HER!)

(photo courtesy of Pillsbury Bake-Off)

Candied Bacon and Apple Canapés Recipe

recipe by Stephanie Lemus
Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest 20101 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/3 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
20 thin slices center-cut bacon (about 12 oz)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 small Granny Smith apples
4 oz cream cheese (half of 8-oz package), softened
1 1/4 cups crumbled blue cheese (6 oz)

Heat oven to 400°F. Line large cookie sheets with cooking parchment paper. Unroll pie crusts on work surface. Using 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter, cut 20 rounds from each crust, re-rolling dough if necessary. Place on cookie sheet; prick each round twice with fork. In small bowl, beat egg and 1 tablespoon water until well blended; brush on rounds. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Cool while preparing bacon.

Line 15x10x1-inch pan with cooking parchment paper. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and red pepper. Place bacon with sides touching in pan; sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until sugar is hot and bubbly. Remove bacon from pan to a plate; let stand 10 to 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Using sharp knife, cut each bacon slice into 4 pieces.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Cut each unpeeled apple into 20 (2×1/4-inch) slices; place in water mixture and refrigerate.

In another small bowl, mix cream cheese and blue cheese with wooden spoon, leaving small pieces of blue cheese visible. Spoon mixture into pastry bag fitted with 3/4-inch tip; pipe onto each cracker. Drain apple slices; pat dry. For each cracker, place 1 apple slice between 2 bacon pieces; press at an angle into cheese mixture.

40 canapés

1 Serving: Calories 90 (Calories from Fat 50); Total Fat 6g (Saturated Fat 2 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 15mg; Sodium 370mg; Total Carbohydrate 8g (Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 3g); Protein 2g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 0%; Vitamin C 0%; Calcium 2%; Iron 0% Exchanges: 1/2 Starch; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 1 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 1/2 *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Look who else came with me to Pillsbury!

Cooking with Amy
No Recipes
Chef Druck

Food Mayhem
Kitchen Scoop
Carrots and Cake
Official Pillsbury Bake Off blog
NYCityMama (pre and post)
Stephen (in New Haven Post)

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Comments 47

  1. Pingback: The 44th Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest – Carrots 'N' Cake - A Blog Devoted to a Healthy Balance

  2. Tampa Cheryl

    Candied bacon is popping up everywhere these days. Must try soon. This appetizer may of interest for the next party gathering. But the candied bacon can’t wait that long:-).

  3. Katie @ goodLife {eats}

    YUM! This sounds like it was such a fun event to attend. Enjoyed seeing your tweets from it. And I gotta know, where is that yellow bag from? So cute and springy…a purse or camera bag, or both?

  4. danica

    Yum! I’d totally pick hers as well without even seeing the competition…she had me at candied bacon and cheese! Great recap Jayden!

  5. quickmealhelp

    I’ve always wondered what it’s like to attend a big cooking competition like that — thanks for the fascinating recap. And candied bacon! Oh my, can’t wait to try it — and only 15 minutes to make?!! Oooh-la-la. 🙂

  6. beth aka confusedhomemaker

    I love that combo. Then again I love bacon 🙂 And yes she should get that blog going, 300 recipes! That’s a wealth of food knowledge that would be awesome to share & let us make & so we can eat 🙂

  7. Sasa

    Ahahaha, you look SO happy to be tucking into that bacon! But also glam and not piggy. How’d you DO that? Note to self: practise in the mirror.

  8. Tina

    The canape sounds delicious, and based on that alone, I hope she wins, but more importantly, I hope she wins for the sake of her poor dog! I’ve known the heartbreak of loosing a dog (she was just like a child to me), so here’s hoping that the appetizer category finally takes top prize!

  9. Pingback: 2010 Pillsbury Bake-Off Wrap Up! — My Wooden Spoon

  10. Carolyn Jung

    So great to have finally met you in person, Jaden!
    I didn’t get to taste the candied bacon morsel (not my category to judge). But I did see it, and it sure looked pretty.
    It’s been a struggle not to let the cat out of the bag since we chose the winner of the $1 million on Monday. But it was a great time being a judge for the event, and so thrilling to know we changed someone’s life with a prize like that.

    1. Lia Huber

      So cool you got to judge, Carolyn! I judged a Cooking Light Reader Recipe contest once and it was wild, so much fun–in fact one of the contestants that year was a Pillsbury winner just a few weeks earlier. I can’t imagine the scale that event must be.

      Will you be at IACP in Portland next week?

  11. Twill Jill

    I’ve always wanted to attend a bake off. Lucky you. The recipe looks yumm-o – then again, anything with bacon is good, good, good! Can’t wait to try it and thanks to Stephanie for sharing her recipe!

  12. Jeannie

    After looking over the 100 entries, and seeing the final 4- I have to agree with your comments about them ~Stephanie’s Candied Bacon and Apple canape- it’s unique and tempts the palate to ‘taste me’ ! Glad you singled her out!!

  13. Pingback: 44th Pillsbury Bake-Off Meet the Winners! - Wine and Food

  14. rita

    i heart bacon! whether she won or not, that appetizer is a winner to me! i can’t wait to try.

    i hope romeo gets better with all the chemo. hugs, prayers and positive vibes are on the way.

  15. Kenny

    Great blog and love the sound of those Candied Bacon and Apple Canapés. Can’t believe there is $1m to be won at a baking competition! cool.

  16. Steph

    You guys really are the best. Thanks so much for the kind words – I’m just sorry I couldn’t bring the $1m home to back up the endorsement. I really wanted to prove that food in a tube could be the little black dress in the closet of the food world but I guess that wasn’t meant to be.

    For everyone who asked, we’ve got great news – we took Romeo in for his weekly chemo treatment and the oncologist said he’s started going into remission. Those words from her were better than anything Oprah could have ever said to me.

    FWIW, anyone who’s going to try to make the recipe, please please please warm the cream cheese in the microwave for about 30 seconds before mixing it with the blue cheese. The Pillsbury folks ‘adapted’ the recipe (presumably to make it simpler for the ‘home cook’) and they removed this critical step and replaced it with the ingredient ‘softened cream cheese’.

    The recipe doesn’t work the same way without warming it a little – really hard to pipe and not nearly as tasty so please make sure and warm that cream cheese 🙂

    1. ls

      My daughter is hosting an engagement party this month and I sent her your recipe as it sounds wonderful. My ? is, how to make ahead, like hrs., and should the crust be served warm. I suppose all could be assembled and put on and apples on before serving, but I don’t know. Please let us know. Thank you.

      1. Steph

        Hi Is – thanks so much for the kind words 🙂 You can definitely make the pie crust crackers ahead of time – they don’t have to be warm – maybe make them the night before and store them in an airtight container.

        The cheese could also be prepared ahead of time (warm the cream cheese for 30 seconds before adding the blue cheese to make it easier to pipe – this was a step that was omitted in the official recipe but one I think is important). You can store the cheese mixture in the pastry bag at room temperature – likely a couple of hours max ahead of time.

        The apples can be cut a few hours ahead of time – just store them in the lemon/sugar water and give them a stir every once in a while so that they don’t turn brown.

        The only thing I’d suggest leaving for closer to serving time would be the bacon and assembly. I’ve done the assembly as much as 1 1/2 hours ahead without a problem (just tell your daughter to make sure and drain as much of the bacon fat off when it comes out of the oven so that you don’t have it congealing on the final product).

  17. Pingback: Pillsbury’s 44th Bake-Off « FoodMayhem

  18. SoireeChef

    I made a version of this for a group of senator’s last night. Each time the hor d’oeuvres were passed, I heard them say it was their favorite. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. asian restaurant supply

    This looks amazing.. The whole event looks awesome, and even the photos are great! Go Stephanie and Westlake Village!

  20. Pingback: 44th Pillsbury Bake-Off Meet the Winners!

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  24. Heather

    I served this last night at my bible study. They were a big hit, but I don’t think I got the bacon just right. Will try again, but would appreciate any tips.

  25. Pingback: 2010 Pillsbury Bake-Off Wrap Up! | A Cowboy's Wife

  26. Pingback: >The Pillsbury Bake Off Food Blogger Awards |

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