Tyler was a first-place winner in the pie category in 2009 year for her Apricot Pie with Streusel Topping.
This year’s judges, Jason Oliviera, Efrin DeAnda, Nancy Passarelli, Katlin Peixotto, Amy Cunha, Juanzette Hunter and Jeff Essex, found that judging an apricot-themed recipe contest can be surprising in terms of taste: Some baked goods made with the fruit are very sweet, while others tend toward the sour side.
First-time judge Peixotto learned that quickly.
“That one gave me goose bumps,” Peixotto said, after tasting several sweet pies and then biting into a tart one.
Oliviera said he would go to great lengths for a certain apricot cobbler.
“If you put that in a swimming pool, I would dive in,” he said.
DeAnda said he loved tasting the baked goods and wanted to be a judge every year.
The new Anything Goes Non-Dessert Category, meanwhile, was a favorite of Passarelli.
“The bruschetta is a wonderful surprise,” Passarelli said.
Category winners are as follows:
Miscellaneous Desserts: First prize: Cyndy Tyler, Apricot Cream-Filled Chocolate Éclair-Apricot Cream Puffs; second prize: Juliana Kuhlwein, Apricot Blossom Fiesta Cupcakes
Pies and Cakes: First prize: Veronica Delgadillo, Apricot Cheesecake;
second prize: Kelly McIntyre, Chocolate Apricot Bundt Cake
Cookies and Bars: First prize: Jan Camp, French Apricot Cream Cheese Bars; second prize: Mary Tyler (age 8), White Chocolate-Apricot-Macadamia Nut Cookies
Anything Goes Non-Dessert: First prize: Michelle Halloran, Apricot Creepers
(a blended margarita); second prize: Judy Testa, Apricot-Pineapple Bruschetta
Grand-prize winning recipe Apricot Cream-Filled Chocolate Éclairs and Apricot Cream Puffs
By Cyndy Tyler
1 cup water
½ cup butter
1 cup flour
Heat water and butter to rolling boil. Stir in flour until it forms a ball. Remove from heat and let cool. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well. Put ¼-cup drops on baking sheet for puffs or shape dough into 1½-inch by 3½-inch lines for éclairs.
Bake 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool on rack.
Apricot cream filling:
½ pint heavy whipping cream
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup apricot preserves
Beat heavy cream with sugar and vanilla until it forms stiff peaks. Fold in apricot preserves.
Slice and fill éclairs and top with chocolate or slice and fill puffs and top with drizzled preserves, thinned with water as necessary, and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Chocolate Apricot Macadamia Nut Cookies
By Mary Tyler, age 8
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1½ cup chopped macadamia nuts
2 cups white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set it aside.
Beat together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Beat in the egg, then beat in the egg yolk, then beat in the vanilla.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until just moistened. Stir in the macadamia nuts, apricots and white chocolate chips by hand with a rubber spatula.
Roll into balls or drop by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets and press down on the cookies with your palm a bit to flatten them (but not too much!)
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges look golden brown and the middles don’t look quite set. Finish cooling on the baking sheet.