Chow Bella

Phoenix Woman Wins Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery Contest

Last Friday, Annalyn Varalla Wills, a Valley resident won Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery's Unbelievably Good Gluten-Free Recipe Contest, with her "Prickly Pear Rudi-fied Goat and Rhubarb Treat" recipe.

Wills, who lives with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity, hopes her recipes will help show people that it's easy to cook and eat well without the use of refined sugars and processed foods. 

Originally hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, she describes her cooking as "Southeast by Southwest."

"We just embrace cooking as an adventure," says Wills.

Prickly pear is one of her all-time favorite ingredients, she adds. "They really bring the dish alive." 

Wills used Cheri's Desert Harvest Prickly Pear Cactus Syrup in her award-winning treat.

Describing the contest as a "wonderful opportunity," she competed with two other gluten-free chefs in the Final Recipe Cook-Off in Boulder, Colorado, held in Restaurant 4580.

As part of her reward, Wills will be featured in a national advertisement for Rudi's, and she'll star in a cooking show for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness - Alternative Appetites, alongside Chef Dan Kohler of Renegade Kitchen.

Hit the Jump to see Wills' award-winning gluten-free recipe

Prickly Pear Rudi-fied Goat and Rhubarb Treats by Annalyn Varalla Wills

Time to Prepare: 5 hours 30 mins
Servings: 36


A. Crust Recipe:

• 2 slices Rudi Wholegrain Bread end pieces if possible
• 1 bag Pamela's Ginger Mini Snapz cookies
• ½ c. whole roasted almonds
• 1 stick chilled unsalted butter cut into cubes
• 1 tsp. gluten free vanilla extract
• 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest

B. Prickly Pear Cactus Rhubarb Strawberry Filling:

• 2 c. or 1 package of precut rhubarb thawed and finely diced
• 1 c strawberries hulled and diced
• 2 Tbsp. blue agave nectar
• Pinch of sea salt
• ½ fresh squeezed lemon
• Prickly Pear Cactus Syrup (Wills uses Cheri's Desert Harvest Prickly Pear Cactus Syrup)

C. Prickly Pear Creamy Goat Cheese Filling:

• 16 oz. Premium fresh soften plain goat cheese log
• 2 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 2 Tbsp. blue agave nectar
• 2 Tbsp. local honey
• 2 Tbsp. Prickly Pear Cactus Syrup (optional - makes it the pretty pink too!)
• 2 eggs

D. Strawberry Fruit Topping:

• 2 c. strawberries hulled and finely diced
• ½ fresh sqeezed lemon
• 1 Tbs. blue agave nectar

Preparation Instructions:

A. Crust Instructions:

Preheat your over to 350*. Add first 3 ingredients and pulse in a food processor until fine crumbles and combined. Pour into bowl and with a pastry blender cut chilled butter cubes until all ingredients are blended while adding the vanilla and lemon zest. Continue to cut until incorporated. Press flat into a 13x9 inch greased glass dish and bake for 10 minutes until slightly browned. Remove and cool.

B. Prickly Pear Cactus Rhubarb Strawberry Filling Instructions:

Heat a sauté pan on medium heat. Place all ingredients in pan and bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Do not break up all the fruit. Add a splash (or two) of Prickly Pear Cactus Syrup to the mixture. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until liquid is reduced to syrup. Taste and add additional agave if needed ½ tsp. at a time. Cool on off burner.

C. Prickly Pear Creamy Goat Cheese Filling Instructions:

Soften the goat cheese to room temperature and mix with the next 4 ingredients on medium until smooth. Add one egg at a time and continue to beat for 2 minutes. Layer your crust with the cooled preserves followed by the goat cheese filling. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside and cool for at least an hour to room temperature.

D. Strawberry Fruit Topping Instructions:

Mix the above ingredients to create a syrup consistency. Sprinkle over the goat cheese filling carefully filling in any gaps. Chill for at least 4 hours. You can speed it up once it is chilled by putting it in the freezer for an hour as a shortcut. Slice and serve - you may add a dollop of fresh whipped cream, sprinkle of crushed almonds and a drizzle of Prickly Pear Cactus syrup!

Find more recipes from Annalyn Varalla Wills can be found at her website, Party Gluten Free.

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David Sydiongco
Contact: David Sydiongco