12 Best-Ever Baking Contest Winners

We set up the ultimate showstopper challenge and these home bakers brought their best. Pull these contest-winning cakes, bars, breads and more from your oven and watch the rave reviews roll in.

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Mint Chocolate Cheesecake

I created this mint chocolate cheesecake for our high school's annual fundraiser. We were told that it brought a hefty price and was one of the first desserts to go! If desired, you can stir the cookie pieces into the batter instead of adding them in a layer. Keep the pieces fairly small; if they're too large they have a tendency to rise to the top. —Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
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Triple-Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

What could be better than a brownie crust layered with chocolate cheesecake and topped with chocolate ganache? These cheesecake bars will satisfy even the biggest chocolate lovers out there. —Andrea Price, Grafton, Wisconsin
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Gouda and Roasted Potato Bread

Our family tried roasted potato bread at a bakery on a road trip, and I came up with my own recipe when we realized we lived much too far away to have it regularly. It makes for a really amazing roast beef sandwich and also goes well with soups. —Elisabeth Larsen, Pleasant Grove, Utah
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Coastal Coconut Cream Cake

This is my son's county fair cake. He was awarded a top-10 prize, and he auctioned the coconut cream cake for big bucks! —Amy Freeze, Avon Park, Florida
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Apple Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

I am a healthy eater most of the time, but this apple spice cake is worth the splurge! Every year I treasure the opportunity to make my own birthday cake, and I choose this. You can add a cup of raisins to the batter before baking if you'd like. —Jennifer Owen, Louisville, Kentucky
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Chai-Spiced Star Bread

My chai star bread is great for potlucks or parties because it's easy to share and looks beautiful. Prepare it ahead of time, refrigerate, then just pop it in the oven before serving. Try using this recipe with other fruits, too, like persimmons or apples. —Elizabeth Ding, El Cerrito, California
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Garlic Rosemary Pull-Apart Bread

This recipe is a different type of pull-apart bread. Eat it by itself, dipped in marinara, or as part of a meal. For a different flavor, add sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, or an onion soup mix packet instead of the rosemary-garlic combo. —Christina Trikoris, Clarksville, Tennessee
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Lemon Popovers with Pecan Honey Butter

My mom passed this recipe down to me many years ago. We love the delicate lemon flavor with the pecan honey butter. The popovers are a nice addition to any dinner, but they're especially delicious at breakfast with a bowl of fruit and yogurt. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
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Oma's Marzipan Stollen

My German grandma made this stollen for us when we were young. I love its homey taste and how it reminds me of her and the German food she made. I often freeze this sweet bread once it’s shaped into a braid. Then I can pull it out the night before, let it rise on the counter overnight, and bake it in the morning. —Abigail Leszczynski, Beauford, South Carolina
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Praline Pumpkin Pecan Pie

My husband and I are not big fans of traditional pumpkin pie, but my mother and others are, so we must have pumpkin pie as one of the desserts at Thanksgiving. I decided to meet everyone halfway with this pumpkin pecan pie recipe and it was a hit. Now I bring it to Thanksgiving every year. My mother doesn't even feel the need to bake her own pumpkin pie! —Emily Reese, Glade Hill, Virginia
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Vanilla-Glazed Ginger Scones

Gingerbread is a flavor that works with all sorts of delicious holiday baked goods. To glaze these ginger scones, just dip a fork or spoon into the glaze mixture and then drizzle over the tops. —Colleen Delawder, Herndon, Virginia

Rachel Seis
As deputy editor for Taste of Home magazine, Rachel has her hand in everything you see from cover to cover, from writing and editing articles to taste-testing recipes to ensuring every issue is packed with fun and fabulous content. She'll roll up her sleeves to try any new recipe in the kitchen—from spicy Thai dishes (her favorite!) to classic Southern comfort food (OK...also her favorite). When she's not busy thinking of her next meal, Rachel can be found practicing yoga, going for a run, exploring National Parks and traveling to new-to-her cities across the country.