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Million-dollar recipe controversy

Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups (Pillsbury)

Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups (Pillsbury)

Oh no! News organizations everywhere are reporting a backlash against the winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups earned a cool $1 million and guest appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show for their creator, Sue Compton. The New Jersey mom combined refrigerated sugar cookie dough baked in muffin tins with chocolate, jam and ice cream for the kind of treat that, well, any 6-year-old could make.

And there’s the problem. Dissenters are arguing the face that these sugar balls don’t involve any actual cooking.

The San Jose Mercury News has a particularly amusing recounting of the kerfuffle.

I’m thinking: People. Get a life. It’s the Pillsbury Bake-Off.

I’m also thinking: Mmmm….mini ice cream cookie cups….

What are you thinking?


Prep Time: 20 Min

Total Time: 45 Min

Makes: 24 tartlets


1 package (16 oz) refrigerated sugar cookies (24 cookies)

4 teaspoons sugar

1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate baking chips

1/4 cup Seedless Red Raspberry Jam

1 1/2 cups vanilla bean ice cream, softened

24 fresh raspberries


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray. Place 1 cookie dough round in each muffin cup. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

2. Place 2 teaspoons of the sugar in small bowl. Dip end of wooden spoon handle in sugar; carefully press into center of each cookie to make 1-inch-wide indentation. Cool completely in pan, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix walnuts and remaining 2 teaspoons sugar; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds, stirring after 30 seconds, until smooth.

4. Run knife around edges of cups to loosen; gently remove from pan. Dip rim of each cup into melted chocolate, then into walnut mixture. Place walnut side up on cookie sheet with sides.

5. In another small microwavable bowl, microwave jam uncovered on High about 15 seconds until melted. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon jam into each cup. Freeze cups about 5 minutes or until chocolate is set.

6. Spoon ice cream into cups, using small cookie scoop or measuring tablespoon. Top each cup with fresh raspberry; serve immediately.


1 Tartlet: Calories 150 (Calories from Fat 70); Total Fat 7g (Saturated Fat 2 1/2g, Trans Fat 1 1/2g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 60mg; Total Carbohydrate 19g (Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 12g); Protein 1g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 0%; Vitamin C 0%; Calcium 0%; Iron 2% Exchanges: 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 1

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

30 comments Add your comment


April 30th, 2010
2:09 pm

I suppose she baked the cookie dough. But, really! $1M for that?!


April 30th, 2010
3:09 pm

Yes please! To the $1mill at least… The cookie cups,, meh. While creative, they are a little lame, and prolly not worth a million. . But, it is the pilsbury bake off. I wouldn’t expect something super hard.

Makes you wonder what the rest of the entries were if this was the winner…


April 30th, 2010
3:23 pm

sounds like a great kid-friendly recipe and I might just try a variation on it without the pre-made cookie dough.

Sharon Alexander

April 30th, 2010
3:25 pm

Wish we’d thought of it… The idea is to use their product. She baked a pre-fab product and it will, probably, be a huge seller now because of the recipe. Pillsbury will sell a lot of dough, for a lot of dough, so she won a lot dough!!!


April 30th, 2010
3:34 pm

I don’t doubt that they are good but I think the Pillsbury Bake-off has hit a new low with choosing THIS as a $1,000,000 winner!


April 30th, 2010
3:53 pm

The thing about the Pillsbury Bakeoff is actually THINKING of a recipe to make that hasn’t been made before with these certain products. That actually is difficult. I’ve tried…


April 30th, 2010
3:57 pm

Part of the judging is based on the consistency of the recipe or does it taste the same every time you do it? Another factor is that it’s something that everyone can do and doesn’t take the patisserie chef from the CIA to duplicate it. Half-stoned/drunk college kids could do this after the LAST CALL of the night.

Apparently just about everyone can open up a bag of of cookie dough and slab some things together. Plus, if she sold it as a kid-friendly activity that could’ve sold it too.


April 30th, 2010
3:58 pm

A million, though? Wow. Food Network will only give you 25k for their Ultimate Recipe Showdown.


April 30th, 2010
4:15 pm

I don’t really understand the problem. It’s the Pillsbury Bake-off, the cookies were eventually baked. The judges knew what was in it and how it was done. She won. Doesn’t it always say “The decision of the judges is final,” for reasons such as these?


April 30th, 2010
4:39 pm

I entered this contest with an extremely delicious chocolate and raspberry dessert made from crescent dough sheets, but wasn’t selected as one of the 100 finalists. I suspect it was because my recipe was a bit more elaborate than mindless mini ice cream cups. Pillsbury is looking for incredibly easy-to-make, since many Americans can’t cook, and are intimidated with anything not already processed. I’ll re-enter next time, and try to tone it down.


April 30th, 2010
4:44 pm

recipe is tame
all the same
what a game
15 min of fame
pillsbury is to blame
cheapens their name
a million to claim


April 30th, 2010
4:46 pm


April 30th, 2010
6:56 pm

Looks easy to make and delicious. Don’t we all appreciate that in the kitchen?


April 30th, 2010
9:04 pm

Pillsbury was looking for a recipe that would be easy enough to have a lot of people buy their products. They weren’t looking for something from a fine bakery. And if this catches on, they’ll get their million back many times over in cookie dough sales. They are gambling on future sales.

Toll House cookies were once considered an easy make at home item, but now they are sold as refrigerated dough. But making them from scratch would be like making puff pastry in difficulty compared to these!


April 30th, 2010
11:02 pm

Makes you think that whoever made up the recipe for Rice Krispies treats shoulda gotten $1mil! It is also easy and involves no cooking – and it is a classic. Sometimes the simplest things are the best (although I’m not thinking this recipe belongs in that category, it looks a little yucky to me.)


May 1st, 2010
9:13 am

Thanks for the recipe John. “Mommy” has taught my little 8 year old urchin to make a pumpkin pie, I’ll bet she can do those too. She loves learning how to cook. As to the million buck thing? It weren’t my money so why should I care?

Elliot Garcia

May 1st, 2010
10:25 am

nothing fancy, that’s for sure!

David S

May 1st, 2010
10:31 am

And yet people can’t seem to get upset that federal employees make on average well over $100K a year for basically stealing from the productive sector, regulating (destroying) the productive sector, harrassing the productive sector, and destroying freedom. Clearly american’s have their priorities totally screwed up – but that should have been obvious just looking at the results of the past dozen or so presidential elections.


May 1st, 2010
11:18 am

Vote out the incumbents and start over

Sophie's Choice

May 1st, 2010
3:05 pm

David S., to quote Bugs Bunny: “What a maroon!” If you believe federal employees make, “on average, well over $100K a year”, you’ve obviously swallowed the Tea Bagger/Faux News/GOP Kool-aid BIG time. In case you hadn’t noticed, this is a FOOD blog. You need to take that one-note mentality of yours over to Wooten’s or Wingfield’s page, and give the rest of us a break from the silliness that comes from today’s political hogwash. We don’t come here for that!


May 1st, 2010
3:09 pm

Thank you, Sophie’s Choice.

The Cynthia

May 1st, 2010
3:22 pm

The dumbing down of baking.

[...] View full post on Food and More with John Kessler [...]

[...] winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest has been facing some harsh criticism as of late.  Accusations of theft and that the ease of the recipe doesn’t require any talent [...]


May 4th, 2010
2:43 pm

i’m thinking i could use some of those as a little pick me up about right now.


May 5th, 2010
5:45 pm

Thank you Sophie for the lesson in hypocrisy. I noticed you got your digs in with the “Tea Bagger/Faux News/GOP Kool-aid BIG time” comment.

Other than the blatant plug for your party affiliation and the hypocrisy I agree with the rest of your statement. Live your advise yourself though please.


May 6th, 2010
10:15 am

They are not going to give away a million bucks if they can’t recoup this investment at least 10 times over. My guess it was a no-brainer for Pillsbury. Seems like everybody that counts won on this deal. Capitalism really does work if you just give it a try! Plus it helps when you know what your are doing as a company.


May 6th, 2010
2:53 pm

Okay, I haven’t looked up the definition of cooking, but I believe that with Rice Krispie Treats, you “cook” the marshmallows (aka melt them) on the stove.

Sophie's Choice

May 10th, 2010
11:17 am

Fred, dear, please b l o w it out your cry h o l e. It’s not hypocrisy to point out where someone’s obviously getting their (incorrect) information, or that they can’t keep their political propaganda to themselves no matter where they post.

Sam Holt

May 11th, 2010
9:25 pm

Fabulous recipe for these lean economic times. All the other recipes required expensive ingredients. Why not have something inexpensive, simple, and a real family pleaser?