BRG: Best Date & Pecan Rolls. What can you tell me about this winning recipe and why you chose it?
Donna: I have really come to love dates and figs. And in Texas, PECANS are king. I try not to eat sugar, so Splenda worked great. I never choose someone’s recipe without making it my own and making tweaks.
BRG: What do you think your secret to winning was?
Donna: My nut roll was different. First, I competed with a sugar free against real sugar entries. Most of the other entries were white. Mine was brown.
BRG: Do you have any helpful tips for someone making it on their own?
Donna: Don’t be afraid of using a candy thermometer. If the first attempt fails, keep trying. It is science.
Donna’s First Baking Contest Was in 1983
BRG: How long have you been baking and competing at the fair?
Donna: About 20 years. I started in 1983 and competed about 15 years and took a break. Came back with canning a few years ago.
BRG: What has been your biggest win in baking competitions?
Donna: In the brownie bakeoff I won first place in both brownie and blondie so basically I competed against myself for best of show. I won!
BRG: How many ribbons do you have?
Donna: Hundreds. I never counted them.
BRG: What did you like about baking with Splenda?
Donna: My brother is diabetic. I do keto. We can all enjoy the same dessert. Both my parents were diabetic too. I love it when I change people’s mind that think a dessert with Splenda won’t taste as good.
BRG: What do you do for work?
Donna: I work in a Family Office. Accounting and general office. I am in my 33rd year with them.
BRG: Any hobbies besides baking?
Donna: I love cooking as much as baking. I have won some big awards and prizes with savory dishes. $10k from a national Campbell’s Soup recipe contest and other great wins as well. I love to travel. Have been to 6 continents and lots of cruises. I am a huge sports fan too.
Pro Tip for Preparing This Recipe