Dulce de Leche Mousse in Pecan Nests

Dulce de Leche Mousse in Pecan Nests

Best of Show, Outstanding Adult, and 1st Place in Adult Tarts by:

Amy Salopek




Prep Time: 15 minutes

Preheat Oven: 350o F

Total Cook Time: 45 minutes

Chill Time: 1-2 hours

Total Time: 2-3 hours (with chill time)

Number of Recipe Servings or Yield: 8 tarts





• 2 tablespoons butter

• 1 tablespoon heavy cream

• 1/3 cup sugar

• 1/2 cup pecans



• 1 1/3 cups pecans

• 3/4 cup powdered sugar

• 2 large egg whites

• 3 tablespoons sugar

• 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



• 1 cup heavy whipping cream

• 1/2 cup dulce de leche (jarred or homemade)

• 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder

• 1 tablespoon hot water




• Step 1: Toast the 1 1/3 cups pecans for the nests on a cookie sheet in a 350o oven until fragrant, approximately 12-14 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent burning. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

• Step 2: Make candied pecans for topping: Place 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon heavy cream in a small saucepan and heat on low until butter melts. Sprinkle 1/3 cup sugar on top (don’t stir yet) and continue heating on low until sugar dissolves and mixture starts to bubble. Add ½ cup pecans, stir, and bring to boil over medium heat. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture resembles caramel. Dump out onto parchment paper to cool. When cooled, chop into small pieces. Set aside.

• Step 3: Place the now cooled oven-toasted 1 1/3 cups pecans in the bowl of a food processor with the ¾ cup powdered sugar. Pulse to grind the nuts into a fine meal (approximately 50 pulses). Set aside.

• Step 4: Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer along with 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Whip on medium high, scraping sides of bowl occasionally with spatula, until stiff glossy peaks form, 7-8 minutes. Using a spatula, fold in the ground nut/powdered sugar mixture, mixing just until well blended. Scoop into a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch star tip. Pipe 8 nests onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (tip: draw 8 evenly spaced 3-inch circles on a rectangle of parchment paper, then flip and place on baking sheet): start at the center of each circle and pipe in a circular motion to form a 3-inch circle. Pipe a second layer on top of the outside circumference layer of the nest base to form a “lip” (think inverted jar lid). Leave out on countertop to rest for 15 minutes while you heat the oven to 375o. Place nests in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 325o. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges. Remove from oven and cool completely.

• Step 5: Make the mousse: Add 1 tablespoon of hot water to a small mixing bowl and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon gelatin powder. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Set aside. Whip 1 cup heavy cream with mixer until soft peaks form. Start slowly drizzling the gelatin water into the whipped cream and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in ½ cup of dulce de leche with a spatula until well blended and no streaks of caramel remain. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe generous dollops of mousse into cooled nests. Sprinkle tops with the chopped candied pecans. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Refrigerated in a covered container, they will keep well for a day or two.

Note: Pecan decorations were made by sandwiching two toasted pecan halves together with dulce de leche, and then wrapping it in homemade marshmallow fondant. This was then pressed into a DIY pecan mold made from gelatin and glycerin. Not only are they cute, they taste good, too! Leaves were made from the same marshmallow fondant.


Browned Butter Pecan Cheesecake

Browned Butter Pecan Cheesecake

2nd Place in Adult Cheesecake by:

Marlene Castillo


  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Yields 12-14 slices



  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 2 tbsp salted butter, melted


  • 6 tbsp Challenge salted butter
  • 24 ounces cream cheese. room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar. loosely packed
  • 3 tbsp AP flour
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup toasted pecans (above)


  • 2 ¼ cups  graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup salted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon



1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine the melted butter, pecans and brown sugar in a medium sized bowl and toss to coat.

3. Spread the pecans evenly onto the cookie sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until toasted.

4. Set pecans aside to cool.


5. To make the browned butter for the cheesecake filling, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. It’s best to use a light colored pan so that you can see the butter browning. Whisk the butter occasionally so that it cooks evenly.

6. Cook the butter until it turns a nice toasty brown. It will foam up at first, but it will eventually subside and you’ll have browned butter. Some of the brown bits may separate, but that’s ok. Once the butter has browned, pour it into a bowl and set it aside to cool.


7. Preheat oven to 325°F, Line a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides.

8. Combine the crust ingredients in a small bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.

9. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.

10. Cover the outsides of the pan with aluminum foil so that water from the water bath cannot get in, set prepared pan aside


11. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

12. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugars and flour on low speed until well completely combined and smooth. Be sure to use low speed to reduce the amount of air added to the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

13. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and browned butter and mix on low speed until well combined.

14. Add the eggs one at a time,mixing slowly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.

15. Stir in 1 cup of the toasted pecans.

16. Pour the cheesecake batter evenly into the crust.

17. Place the springform pan inside another larger pan. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top edge of the aluminum foil on the springform pan.

18. Bake for 1 hour 5 minutes. The center should be set, but still jiggly.

19. Turn off the oven and leave the door closed for 30 minutes. The cheesecake will continue to cook, but slowly begin to cool as well.

20. Crack the door of the oven for 30 min

21. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath wrapping and refrigerate until firm, 5-6 hours or overnight.

22. To finish off the cheesecake, make the whipped cream. Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon to a large mixer bowl. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.

23. Pipe swirls of whipped cream onto the cheesecake and finish off with the remaining toasted pecans. Refrigerate until ready to serve


Congratulations to all the participants!

Congratulations to all the participants!

Congratulations! We had 169 entries this year and the competition was fierce! The judges had their work cut out. We have set the dates for next year, March 3rd, 2024. We’ll be sending out some reminder emails occasionally.

If you received a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place ribbon, keep an eye out in the mail for yours as we will be sending those out in the next couple of days.

Dutch Oven Jalapeno Cheddar Pecan Bread

Dutch Oven Jalapeno Cheddar Pecan Bread

Best of Show and 1st place in Youth Yeast Bread by Jenna Schoeppner


Dutch Oven Jalapeno Cheddar Pecan Bread

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 22 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: 8-10 Ingredients


3 1/2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 large jalapeno diced

½ cup chopped pecans


2 cups warm water

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (1 standard .25oz packet)


1/3 – 1/2 cup shredded cheddar

10 round slices jalapeno (or more, to taste)


To a medium mixing bowl, add bread flour, salt, 2 cups cheddar cheese, and diced jalapenos. Stir and set aside. To a large mixing bowl, add the warm water and yeast. Water should be warm, but not hot. Add flour mixture to the yeast and water, using a rubber spatula to stir it all together until no flour streaks remain. Use a spatula to fold the dough from the outside of the bowl towards the center, turning the bowl a little each time, until you’ve folded the dough in on itself 8-10 times. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, use the rubber spatula to fold the dough in on itself again, 8-10 times. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 more hour. Halfway through this second rise, add your Dutch oven, with the lid on, to your oven and preheat it to 450°F. Let it preheat for a full 30 minutes. Set out a piece of parchment paper large enough to go inside your dutch oven with a bit of overhang. Lightly dust a counter with flour, and flour your hands. Turn out the dough onto the floured surface. Flip the dough over and brush off any excess flour. Fold the corners of the dough in towards the center, about 6-8 times, until a rough ball is formed. Flip the dough over onto the piece of parchment paper.

Use a sharp knife to carefully score the dough. Give the dough a quick spray with some cooking spray, then sprinkle 1/3-1/2 cup of cheese and add sliced jalapenos. Use oven mitts to remove the hot dutch oven from your oven and remove the lid. Carefully use the parchment paper to transfer the dough to the dutch oven. Put the lid on, and return to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and continue baking another 20 minutes. After you’ve removed the dutch oven from the oven, tilt it slightly and use the parchment to softly pull the parts of the parchment paper striking out. It will come out easily. Remove parchment paper and let bread cool on a wire rack for 1-2 hours before slicing. Texture is best when bread is completely cooled before slicing. Then enjoy it warm with some butter!

2022 Results

2022 Results

Quick Bread


1st place Adult- Quick Breads- Apple Pecan Streusel Bread- Elena Tirre

2nd place Adult- Quick Breads Maple Pecan Pie Muffins- Julia Scheiderich

3rd place Adult- Quick Breads Banana Bread- Renee Pokorny

3rd place Adult- Quick Breads- Pecans in Paradise Bread- Tony Poe

1st place Youth- Quick Breads- Butter Pecan Bread with butter pecan glaze- Silverio Burgos

2nd place Youth Quick Breads- Zucchini Pecan Bread- Jax Evaro & Dusti Weber


Yeast Bread

Best of Show & 1st place Youth Yeast Breads Dutch Oven Jalapeno Cheddar Pecan Bread-

Jenna Schoeppner

1st place Adult Yeast Breads- Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns- Cathi Buchman

2nd place Adult- Yeast Breads Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls- Shirley Gonzales

3rd place Adult Yeast Breads- Pecan Pie Babka

3rd place Adult Yeast Breads- Pecan Pie Babka- Valeria Bejarano




1st place Adult- Un-Iced Cake Pecan Butter Rum Cake- Elena Tirre

2nd place Adult- Un-Iced Cake Pecan Crumb Cake- Debora Juarez

3rd place Adult Un-Iced Cake George’s Pecan Fruit Brandy Cake- George Jarden

3rd place  Adult Un-Iced Cakes Chocolate Kahlua Cake w/ Pecan Topping- Bernadette Acosta

2nd place Youth- Un-Iced Cakes Pecan roll with ginger and pumpkin-

Kimber Lockridge & Beverly Lockridge

1st place Adult Iced Cakes- Hummingbird Cake

2nd place Adult- Iced Cakes- Pecan Zucchini Cake- Judy Johnson

Outstanding Youth & 1st place- Youth Iced Cakes Chocolate Turtle Cake- Jenna Schoeppner

2nd place Youth- Iced Cakes Sour Cream Coffee Cake- Austin Roberson

3rd place Youth- Iced Cakes Pecan Cake w/ Salted Caramel Frosting – Rae Millette

1st place Adult Decorated Cupcakes- Pecan Pie Cupcakes Sofia Roybal

1st place Youth Decorated Cupcakes- Chocolate Coconut Pecan Cupcakes- Brynlee Kane

2nd place Youth Decorated Cupcakes- Pumpkin Spice Pecan Cupcakes- Joelle Gallegos

3rd place Youth Decorated Cupcakes- Butter Pecan Cupcakes- Lacey Knight




1st place Adult Candy Five Minute Chocolate Fudge- Amy Zemler

2nd place Adult Candy Pecan Pie Truffles- Sofia Roybal

3rd place Adult Candy- White Chocolate Pecans- Samantha Carrasco

1st place Youth- Candy Pecan Brownie Bombs- Hope Rices

2nd place Youth- Candy Pecan Brittle- Kimber Lockridge & Beverly Lockridge

3rd place Youth Candy Pecan Brittle- Maria Roybal




2nd place Adult Drop Cookies- George’s Vegan Double- Pecan Fruit Brandy Drop Cookies- George Jarden

2nd place Youth Drop Cookies- Pecan Butter Cookies- Brynlee Kane

3rd place Youth Drop Cookies- Butter Pecan Cookies- Jewel Rivera

3rd place Youth Drop Cookies- Butter Pecan Sugar Cookies- Clint Van Dommelen


1st place Adult- Bar Cookies Streusel topped pecan blondies- Joy Lightfoot

2nd place Adult- Bar Cookies George’s Vegan Double-Pecan Fruit Brandy Pastry Bars-

George Jarden

1st place Youth- Bar Cookies Pecan Bars- Ian Zepeda and Anthony Gonzales

2nd place Youth Bar Cookies Pecan Shortbread Squares- Veronica Vargas & Angel Hernandez

3rd place Youth Bar Cookies Pecan Pie Bars- Ruth Meyers


1st place Adult- Other Cookies- Turtle Thumbprint Cookies- Shirley Gonzales

2nd place Adult- Other Cookies Pecan Pizelles- Celeste Gamache

3rd place Adult- Other Cookies Eddie Flores

3rd place Adult- Other Cookies- Pecan Pie Cookies Elena Tirre

3rd place Adult Other Cookies- Pumpkin Pecan Snickerdoodles-

Kimber Lockridge & Beverly Lockridge

1st place Youth Other Cookies- Maple Pecan Shortbread Esther Heerema

2nd place Youth Other Cookies- Cinnamon Pecan Biscotti- Mikayla Dees




1st place Youth- Cheesecake- Mini Crème Brulee Pecan Cheesecakes-

Daniel Martinez & Mia Maldonado

2nd place Youth Cheesecake- Caramel Pecan Cheesecake- Michelle Cardenas

2nd place Youth Cheesecake- Greyson’s Miniature Pecan Caramel Cheesecakes-

Greyson Baldillez

2nd place Youth Other Pies- Apple Pecan Pie Kimber Lockridge & Beverly Lockridge

3rd place Youth Other Pies- Pecan Joy Pie- Greyson Baldillez

1st place Youth Traditional Pecan Pie- Aubree Kane and Brynlee Kane

1st place Adult Traditional Pecan Pie- Mama Lane’s Pecan Pie- Alma Ulrich

2nd place Adult- Traditional Pecan Pies- Pecan Pie- Valerie Bejarano

3rd place Adult Traditional Pecan Pie- Isaac Kolosseus



2nd place Adult Tart- Pecan and Black Sesame Mooncakes- Carolyn Archer

3rd place Adult Tart- Pecan Tarts- Joy Lightfoot


Unusual Desserts


Outstanding Adult & 1st place- Adult Unusual Desserts- Pecan Paris Brest with Pecan butter Mousseline- Elena Tirre

2nd place Adult Unusual Desserts- Toasted Pecan Cream Mousse- Debora Juarez

3rd place Adult Unusual Desserts- George’s Vegan Double- Pecan Fruit Brandy Luncheon Dessert Mountains with strawberry Cream

1st place Youth- Unusual Desserts Pecan Tamales- Jessica Perez

2nd place Youth Unusual Desserts Butter Pecan Ice Cream- Vivana Rauch

3rd place Youth Unusual Desserts Pecan Jelly- Abigail Gracia Serrano & Dana Gonzalez




1st place Adult Savory- Smoked Pecan rubbed New Mexico Red Chile infused Beef Jerky-

Renee Pokorny



Gluten Free


1st place Adult- Gluten Free- Gluten Free Carrot Cake- Elena Tirre

2nd place Adult- Gluten Free- Gluten Free Key Lime Pie- Celinda Hernandez

3rd place Youth- Gluten Free Onnie’s White Cookies (Hard Meringues)- Aubree Kane