Lake Oconee Resident Named Finalist in Pillsbury Bake-Off

Marie Bruno

By Steve Guss

The  votes flooded in from the north, from the south, from the east and from the west.

Marie Bruno’s ballot box was apparently overflowing in the past two weeks as word came in that the Lake Oconee resident was named as a finalist in the 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-off.

Bruno, is entered in the Simple Sweets and Starters category with a “Decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Tart,” She made the contest semifinals earlier this month as the lone Georgia participant.  The general public was then asked to vote for their favorite baker.  “They (the votes) came in from Georgia, Florida Michigan, New Jersey and California.  “Once word got out, it was easy with the internet,” she said.

28c24ee4-20dd-40dd-91ba-7d20125566d4Bruno is now among the 100 entrants remaining (33 in her speciality) who  are vying for the contest’s million dollar prize.  The winner will be named during a three-day baking period from Nov. 10-12 at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Saying she’s been in Las Vegas on other occasions, a confident Bruno said “it had nothing to do with cooking.  We won’t be seeing much of the city. . .I’ll be too busy cooking.”

“I have great confidence in my tart,” said Bruno.  “It will be hard to beat.  When they (judges) take that first bite, they’ll be amazed,” she added.

Bruno says the rich-looking dessert “has no added sugar.  It’s almost semi-sweet.”  She uses toasted hazelnut in many of her baking items.  If you’re hankering for a taste of this tart before the judging begins, it’s available by going to  You can print a copy of the recipe.