Noe Valley Voice April 2000

Bake Off, Pillsbury!

By Bobbie Stein

Like a soufflé that had collapsed, my hopes were dashed when I saw the Chronicle story about the winners in the Pillsbury Million Dollar Bake Off in San Francisco. Shouldn't I be there? I thought. Or at least have been notified? I mean, was it possible that my million-dollar brownies did not tantalize the tastebuds of the official testers?

It's not like it was a lifelong dream or anything. I wouldn't have even thought about entering the contest. My friends put me up to it. They had it all worked out. They would test the recipes, and then we would share the prize money. And so, with spatula firmly in hand, I labored to create the fudgiest brownie ever...or at least, the fudgiest brownie ever made with Pillsbury products.

The baking part was easy. It was the online entry form that stumped me. It took me three attempts before the technology acknowledged that I had indeed entered the contest.

My 7-year-old son never doubted for a moment that I would win. He got to taste each batch from batter to finished product. His enthusiasm was contagious. I baked brownie recipe after brownie recipe, and soon I too began to believe.... Why wouldn't I win? Chocolate brownies with chocolate chips mixed with butterscotch...but wait...I have to use a Pillsbury product.

Since Hungry Jack Potato Flakes and Green Giant Mexicorn didn't seem to compliment my creation, I opted for the Pillsbury Chocolate Frosting (with natural ingredients). I don't usually buy commercial products like frosting, but it was my only chance to win the money. Very clever, Pillsbury. I must have spent $50 trying out various frostings to top off my already fudgy brownies. I figured that I would recoup the loss in the end, so I kept on buying.

Didn't the Pillsbury dough boys see that they would have saved money by selecting me to compete in the final round? I'm local. No plane tickets, no hotel accommodations.... I was sure they'd call me in February to tell me to come on down and bring my apron. But alas, I never even received an email. I was left to read about my bitter defeat in the morning newspaper in the presence of my incredulous son!

And to add insult to injury, the winner's name was BOBBIE. How many Bobbies are there in the world? And how many of them bake? Surely this was all some kind of cosmic confusion. The wires got crossed and my fortune was diverted to some other BOBBIE for her brownie cheesecake!

Thanks to Pillsbury, my life is somehow incomplete, half-baked.... Without the million dollars, my child will remain in public school and I will continue to bake brownies for every birthday and bake sale into the foreseeable future.

Despite my humiliating loss, though, my son still thinks my brownies are the best ever. Come to think of it, Pillsbury, I don't knead your dough!

Bobbie Stein is recovering in her kitchen on Winfield Street.

Bobbie's Million-Dollar Brownies

(minus the Pillsbury frosting)

Oven: 3507. Bake 28 to 30 minutes.

8 x 8 x 2 pan.


1/4 cup margarine

1/4 cup butter

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

11/2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt chocolate, butter, and margarine together in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add eggs, sugar, and vanilla. (Do not overbeat.) Stir in flour. Pour into pan and spread chips over top. Bake 28 to 30 minutes until fudgy but not wet in center.