Author: Cyndi Harles

Sugar-Free Coconut Icebox Cookies with Low-Sugar Cookie Dip

These Sugar-Free Coconut Icebox Cookies are buttery, delicious and made with just a handful of ingredients. They are easy to make and pair perfectly with a low-sugar cream cheese cookie dip

Sugar-Free Coconut Icebox Cookies dip closeup

Icebox cookies simply means you chill the dough after making it and before baking. We shaped ours into a long rectangle but you could do round or oval instead. Then you just “slice and bake” when you’re ready for some fresh-baked cookies. You can even freeze the dough to have on hand whenever a craving hits. 

A Short Ingredient List

For these sugar-free coconut icebox cookies, the short ingredient list includes flour, baking soda, salt, butter, and egg. Instead of sugar, you use a Splenda sweetener, like brown sugar or the new Magic Baker zero sugar baking blend (now available on Amazon and at Walmart or other stores). Then you can flavor the cookies like we did, with a coconut extract, or opt for your favorite flavoring. Personally, we are working our way through our favorite extracts, ranging from coconut and pumpkin spice, to cotton candy and citrus blends.

The cookie dip is such a fun idea, with the best part being you get to choose your cookie to frosting ratio. Or  you can frost each cookie instead. A tip with the dip/frosting is to make confectioners type sugar out of Splenda granulated sugar and cornstarch. And just like with the cookie dough, you can flavor the dip/frosting with your favorite flavoring.

“Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” Recipe Contest

We created this cookie to celebrate the first year of our Splenda Magic Baker “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” and the upcoming contest at the State Fair of Texas. The fair runs Sep 30 to Oct 23 (2022), with the contest landing on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. The fair’s Creative Arts Building is where all their cooking contests happen and they have a terrific line-up. Hats off to all the aspiring blue ribbon bakers and amateur chefs there. We’re rooting for you! 

Whether or not you are competing, we invite you to bake these sugar-free coconut icebox cookies. Be sure to share and tag @BlueRibbonFoodies on Instagram and/or Facebook if you do! You never know when a giveaway will pop up.

And if you are at the State Fair of Texas please join us for all the ”Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” events. 

Splenda “Low-to-No Sugar Showdown” 10/5/2022

@ Contest Kitchen (Creative Arts Building)

  • 9am Entry Drop Off + Free Product Giveaway
  • 10:30am Judging
  • 12pm-ish Awards

@ Celebrity Chef Stage (Creative Arts Building)

  • 4:30pm Sponsor Showcase + Free Product Giveaway
  • Diabetes-Friendly Baking & Cooking
  • Featuring Andrea Luongo; Dieticians of Dallas

 

 

Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner: MN Blackout Cake

The Kowalski’s Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair was this phenomenal “MN Blackout Cake.”

With its three layers, pudding filling, chocolate drip, and decoration, this cake is a chocolate lover’s dream come true. It’s intense color and flavor are going to wow you, just like it did us and the judges.

Replicating it as we did, takes time, but every bite makes it worth the effort.

Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner MN Blackout Cake

Kudos to Michelle Seywerd who was the Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair with this inspired creation.

Michelle’s husband loves Guinness chocolate cake which was her first idea of what to enter. Then she recalled the notorious Brooklyn Blackout Cake. Michelle’s winning recipe is a twist on it. She used this recipe as her base and then adapted a Food Network pudding filling. She added the fun chocolate shards on top too. We were shocked to learn Michelle had barely baked a cookie before the pandemic but really got into it with her daughter, who was a toddler at the time. They started with basic baked goods, watched a lot of YouTube channels, and worked up to more challenging recipes. “It’s been quite a journey,” Michelle shared.

Decadently Dark Cake

In her own words, Michelle describes her MN Blackout Cake here:

A decadently dark cake perfect for the dark chocolate lover in your life! I created a twist on the classic Brooklyn Blackout Cake by featuring black cocoa. Black cocoa is used to give Oreos that distinct color and flavor. Here, I’ve featured chocolate in 4 ways –  layers of moist cocoa cake, filled with black cocoa pudding filling, dripping with a semi sweet chocolate ganache, and topped with intense dark chocolate shards. The result – the boldest and richest chocolate flavor possible without use of food coloring. Enjoy with a nice glass of cold milk! Thank you!

Baking Tips: Great Chocolate Cake Contest Winner

Some random tips we got from Michelle and learned along the way, are these:

  • You’ll want to double the cake portion of the recipe if you want to recreate Michelle’s 3-layer version she won with at the fair. You’ll have an extra single layer that works great to taste and decorate separately. We did crushed salted peanuts on ours (4th unused layer) and loved it. You could also go for a 4 layer cake, but that’s mighty big.
  • If you opt to not double the cake and don’t want extra of the pudding filling, you’ll want to cut that recipe portion in half or do 2/3. The thick filling layer makes this cake a show stopper in our opinion. I would eat that pudding filling as a solo dessert. It’s that good.
  • We got our black cocoa from King Arthur and loved the results. Get yours here.
  • Using black cocoa over the buttered parchment helps the cake keep its intense color.

  • With chocolate drip, if you’re starting with a chocolate bar (versus chocolate chips), chop it into small pieces until they’re about the size of chocolate chips. You’ll get a smoother, more efficient melt.
  • If you can’t find 90% cacao chocolate, use 100% (2 ounces) and semi-sweet chocolate (1 ounce) as a substitute.
  • When we did the chocolate drip, we started with the edge. We worked by the spoonful for more control and to get the drizzle/drip look we wanted.
  • Michelle says this cake is not a fast one to make, but the payoff is totally worth it.

We invite you to re-create the magic of this MN Blackout Cake. Be sure to share on social media and tag @blueribbonfoodies. We want to see what you’re baking!

Enjoy!

-Cyndi

 

New Blue Ribbon Group Contests @ State Fair of Texas

Enter Our New Blue Ribbon Group Contests at the 2022 State Fair of Texas

Cash Prizes of $200, $100, $50 Offered in New Cooking & Baking Contests 

Dallas-Fort Worth, September  13, 2022 – Calling all Texas home cooks and hobby bakers! You’re invited to compete in our new Blue Ribbon Group Contests @ State Fair of Texas. Up for grabs is $350 in prizes in each of four contests/categories, plus bonus prizes and additional ways to win. Do you make great game day foods that are total crowd pleasers? How about some homemade low-sugar sweet-treats? If you do, then these new contests are for you!

Tom Thumb “Blue Ribbon Recipe Round Up” (Game Day Themed Recipes/3 Categories) 10/2/2022

The first Texas Blue Ribbon Group contest is the Tom Thumb  “Blue Ribbon Recipe Round-Up” on Sunday, October 2. With a “Game Day Delights” theme, the Blue Ribbon Recipe Round-Up calls for crowd-pleasing appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. The event is essentially three contests in one. We want to see your best-tasting recipes that are perfect for parties! Each category/type has $350 in gift card prizes, including $200 for 1st Place, $100 for 2nd Place, and $50 for 3rd Place. Plus, bonus prizes will celebrate overall baking category winners (among the fair’s total contest line-up) and offer additional ways to win, even if you don’t compete at the fair.

Splenda Magic Baker™ “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” (Creative Cookies) 10/5/2022

The second Texas Blue Ribbon Group contest is Wednesday, October 5, for the Splenda Magic Baker “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown.” This contest includes a free product giveaway – while supplies last – and calls for CREATIVE COOKIES that are low in sugar or sugar- free! Use any Splenda product, such as Splenda Magic Baker, a new zero-calorie, zero-sugar, plant-based sweetener that tastes and measures just like sugar. The product  is now available from Amazon, Walmart and other grocery stores.

Winner Selections

State Fair of Texas official judges (a varied panel of food professionals, local celebrities, and foodies) will decide each contest’s winners based on evaluating entries with this judging criteria:

  • Unique, innovative, creative recipe (35%)
  • Taste, flavor, aroma (30%)
  • Appearance, color, presentation (25%)
  • Texture, internal appearance (10%)

Extra Ways to Win

Be sure to follow Blue Ribbon Foodies on Instagram and/or Facebook or join our mailing list here for a chance to win one of our $25 gift card giveaways. Whether or not you are competing at the State Fair of Texas, we invite you to take part. We will offer random prizes and perks to our community members and followers throughout the 2022 state fair season, which for us, ends October 22, 2022.

Participation Tips/Guidelines – Blue Ribbon Group Contests @ State Fair of Texas

 All state fair recipe/cooking contest registration and judging goes through the State Fair of Texas Creative Arts Department.

  • Get all the competition details here (Jump to pages 19 & 26, for the Tom Thumb and Splenda Magic Baker contests)
  • Only Texas residents can win at the State Fair of Texas. Advance registration is recommended but not required.
  • When you are ready to register, follow this link (TX Registration Shortcut)

 

Special thanks to our 2022 Texas Contest Partners

 

No-Sugar Gourmet Banana Bread

This award-winning No-Sugar Gourmet Banana Bread took 1st place at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. The Splenda Magic Baker “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” recipe contest was new this year. It called for quick and delicious quick breads.

This blue ribbon winning bread comes from Gina Walker, who won $200 and some bigtime bragging rights.

No-Sugar Gourmet Banana Bread

Gina had never before competed in a recipe contest or at the State Fair. Gina was cheered on by a good friend who has diabetes. In fact, Gina says she never would have entered without her friend’s encouragement.

No-Sugar Gourmet Banana Bread

Baking Tips

Here are some great tips about this recipe:

  • Make sure you bananas are overly ripe, fragrant and flavorful. Gina likes to tuck hers in a dark cupboard until they’re blackened. She often freezes mashed portions of them to have on hand throughout the year
  • Also, don’t skip the coconut extract or orange juice.
  • And don’t be scared of the amount of baking powder the recipe calls for: 1 1/2 tablespoons. No, it is not a typo.

We have made this no-sugar gourmet banana bread numerous times and can attest to it’s deliciousness. For some reason, because of how all the ingredients work together, this bread comes out tasting fantastic every time.

The most recent time we baked it, we made mini loaves and added shredded unsweetened coconut. YUM! They make great gifts for friends and freeze well. And with a smear of peanut butter, a slice is even more magical, if that is possible!

Enjoy!

-Cyndi

Low Sugar Apple Coffee Cake

This Low Sugar Apple Coffee Cake comes from Billie Holterman-Schniepp, who won second place at the Minnesota State Fair, Splenda Magic Baker Contest.

Peaches & Cream Coffee Cake

This Peaches & Cream Coffee Cake comes from Christina Bergstrom, who won third place at the Minnesota State Fair, Splenda Magic Baker Contest.

 

Blue Ribbon Butter Cookie at 2022 Minnesota State Fair 

This Blue Ribbon Butter Cookie at 2022 Minnesota State Fair earned home baker Roxanne Goodwin a 1st place win in the “light ball” cookie category.

 

1st Place Creative Cookie at Minnesota State Fair

These Crispy Creamy Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies are a 2022 blue ribbon winner, a 1st Place creative cookie at the Minnesota State Fair.

Betsy Faber created these for one of the new 2022 special contests. She won $100 and lots of accolades. They are exceedingly delicious. The cookies themselves are candy-like and the filling is magical. They are said to blur the line between candy and cookie.

Recreate these award-winning cookies today! Be sure to follow the recipe because Betsy gives lots of tips and tricks. Using no oil peanut butter is key, as well as not overheating the “dough” part.

You are going to want to make these time and time again!

Enjoy!

-Cyndi

 

Minnesota State Fair Baking Competition Winners Announced

Minnesota State Fair 2022 Baking Competition Winners Announced

  • Blue Ribbon Group special contests celebrate the best in home baking & cooking

  • Find the complete Creative Activities Building winner list here

  • Take in daily live demos/tasting Events in the Cambria Kitchen, starting with Kowalski’s Markets opening day

 

Minneapolis-St Paul, August 25, 2022 – Please join the Blue Ribbon Group in congratulating all the talented and creative entrants in our Blue Ribbon Special Contest Series at the Minnesota State Fair.

 

Splenda Magic Baker “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” Winners

1st Place – Gina Walker of Savage for “Gina’s Sugar-Free Gourmet Banana Bread”

2nd Place – Billie Holterman-Schniepp of Cottage Grove for “Low-Sugar Apple Coffee Cake”

3rd Place – Christina Bergstrom of Twin Lakes for “Peaches & Cream Coffee Cake”

 

Kowalski’s “Great Chocolate Cake Contest” Winners

1st Place – Michelle Seyward of Woodbury for “MN Black Out Cake”

2nd Place – Erin Dooley of St Paul for “Tribute to Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake”

3rd Place – Colleen Jensen of Woodbury for “Merry’s Chocolate Orange Cupcakes”

 

Kowalski’s Supreme Sourdough Contest Winners

1st Place – Guillermo Guardia of Minneapolis for “Peruvian Sourdough Croissants”

2nd Place – Karen Cope of Minneapolis for “Beer & Cheese Sourdough Bread Twist”

3rd Place – Molly Abbattista of Minneapolis for “Sourdough Focaccia Barese”

 

Blue Ribbon “Best Peanut Butter Cookie” Contest Winners

1st Place – Betsy Faber of St. Paul for “Crispy Creamy Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies”

2nd Place – Emily York of Hopkins for “Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons”

3rd Place – Sheila Mullen of Woodbury for “Salted Caramel Nougat-Filled Peanut Butter Cookies”

 

Blue Ribbon “Best Cream Pie” Contest Winners

1st Place – Melinda Chapel of Rosemount for “Blueberry Mojito Pie”

2nd Place – Randy Ferguson of Randolph for “The Pie-phrodisiac” (Chocolate Almond Coconut Pie)

3rd Place – Rachael Hood of St. Louis Park for “Blackberry Smash Cream Pie”

 

Blue Ribbon “Salad Bowl Tournament” Winners

1st Place – Amy Ellenberger of St Paul for “Lemony Summer Kale Salad”

2nd Place – Mia Bremer of Minneapolis for “Herby Tortellini Harvest Salad”

3rd Place – Ellen Joseph of Minneapolis for “Peppery Greens with Shrimp, Soba Noodles & Crunch Herbs”

 

3 Cricketeers “Energy Bars & Power Balls” Recipe Contest

1st Place – Amy Ellenberger of St. Paul for “Magic Chai Power Balls”

2nd Place – Tiffany Mainella of Rochester for “Apple Pie Energy Balls”

3rd Place – Eamon Whiteaker of St. Paul for “Cherry Chocolate Almond Energy Balls”

 

Find the Minnesota State Fair’s complete Creative Activities Building winner list here. During the fair, visit the Creative Activities Building to view entries across all baking classes and categories. To get involved:

  • Sign up for Creative Activities Mailing list (Under Participant tab at MNSTATEFAIR.org)
  • Follow Blue Ribbon Foodies on Instagram or Facebook

 

Thank you to the brands that made this Minnesota blue ribbon contest line-up possible:

@splenda

@kowalskis_markets

@kingarthurbaking

@3cricketeers

@thesaladgirl

 

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2022 Minnesota State Fair Blue Ribbon Competitions

2022 Minnesota State Fair Blue Ribbon Competitions Celebrate Home Baking & Cooking

7 New Special Contests & Blue Ribbon Group Baker Awards Offer Kudos & Cash Prizes

$3,325 in Winner Prizes Up for Grabs

Minneapolis – July 24, 2022 – Home cooks from throughout the Twin Cities are hitting their kitchens to vie for big first place prizes and bragging rights in our blue ribbon recipe contest series at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. The much beloved tradition of competing is a quintessential state fair experience you don’t want to miss.

Calling All Blue Ribbon Foodies & Minnesota State Fair Lovers!! August 20, 2022 is Entry Drop Off Day

In this skill-based competitive event, home cooks prepare their entries at home and deliver them to fairgrounds for judging . You drop off your entry the Saturday before the fair opens , so it’s easy in, easy out. Drop off is 9:30am to 1pm on Saturday, August 20, 2022. You can even have a friend drop it off if you can’t make it. Competition is open to Minnesota residents only. Thousands of items from hundreds of competitors come in. Staff and volunteers sort, tag and organize everything for judging, a process closed to the general public. The Minnesota State Fair then showcases top finishers in window/display cases (Creative Activities Building) throughout entire run of fair (August 25 – Sept 5, 2022). Look also for chef presentations and product sampling among the Cambria Kitchen demonstrations schedule during the fair.

If you are on social media, be sure to follow, post and tag BLUE RIBBBON FOODIES and contest sponsors on Instagram or Facebook (or both =) for special giveaways and more ways to win in the kitchen.

Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Building on the success of 2021’s blue ribbon baking contest series and our decades of arranging national state fair recipe contests, our 2022 Minnesota State Fair plans include Blue Ribbon Baker Awards to honor each blue ribbon winning baker for their best cookies, cakes, pies, pies, and breads. Plus, we arranged seven (7) new special contests with 1st place prizes ranging from $100 to $200. They put the spotlight on sugar-free baking, classic artisan breads, creative cookies and cakes, energy bars made with cricket powder, and even healthy salads!

Key Dates

**Competitors Register by Tue Aug 9, 2022, 4:30pm**

**Drop Off Day Sat Aug 20, 2022, 9:30am to 1pm**

**View Winner Displays & Recipe Demos Aug 25 to Sep 5 in Creative Activities Building**

*Low-To-No Sugar Showdown – calling for the best quick breads made with Splenda products and no added sugar. Prizes total $350 with $200 for 1st place, $100 for 2nd place, $50 for 3rd place. Bring on the baked goods that are perfect for those avoiding sugar or are living with diabetes. Think scrumptious scones, marvelous muffins, and crave-worthy coffee cakes. Quick breads made with fruit, vegetables, or spices qualify too. This contest made possible by Splenda and its new plant-based, zero-calorie, sugar-free sweetener, Magic Baker.

Splenda Low-To-No-Sugar Showdown

*Great Chocolate Cake Contest – prominently feature chocolate as an ingredient and flavor in your cake – solo or with any complimentary flavors. Wow the judges and our taste buds. Entries can be any size or shape: layer, sheet, tube, cupcake or bite-sized. The most unique and most delicious cakes will win. Prizes valued at $175 are up for grabs for the top 3 finishers, plus bonus prizes for broader “best in class” cake winners. This contest made possible by Kowalski’s Markets.

Double Chocolate Bacon Cake

*Supreme Sourdough Bread Contest – the spotlight is on sensational sourdough this year. Enter yours in the new “Supreme Sourdough Bread” Contest at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. Prizes valued at $175 will go to the best sourdough bread bakers. Plus, bonus prizes will go to the fair’s broader “best in class” 1st place bread winners, from quick breads to yeast breads, sweet or savory. This contest made possible by Kowalski’s Markets.

Sourdough Polish Rye Bread

*Blue Ribbon Best Peanut Butter Cookie Contest – We want to see your tastiest and most unique cookies and cookie bars, any shape or size. Creativity counts! Use 1/4 cup (or more) peanut butter, plus any flavors and any ingredient combinations you love, to wow the judges. Prizes valued at $175 are up for grabs, plus bonus prizes for broader “best in class” cookie and bar winners. This contest made possible by Blue Ribbon Group and King Arthur Baking Company.

Jumbo Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies-from above

*Blue Ribbon Best Cream Pie Contest – Make your creamiest and dreamiest pie entry, any size or shape. Creativity for the win! Prizes valued at $175 are up for grabs for the top 3 finishers, plus bonus prizes for all broader “best in class” pie winners. This contest made possible by Blue Ribbon Group.

Best Banana Cream Pie Recipe Overhead Shot

*Energy Bars & Power Balls Recipe Contest – if you missed last year’s first-ever 3 Cricketeers recipe contest, get cracking on your “Energy Bars & Power Balls” contest entry for the Minnesota State Fair. We want to see creative recipes using 3C’s 100% pure cricket powder and additional ingredients known to boost and energize – peanut butter, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, and chocolate, for example. Your entry can be any shape, size, or style, baked or the no bake kind. This contest made possible by support from 3 Cricketeers.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

*Salad Bowl Tournament – make your best bountiful salad with any Salad Girl™ dressing and any other ingredients, from fresh vegetables, salad greens, herbs, and fruits, to proteins and nuts. Your entry can be in a bowl, or not. We’re looking for nutritious, unique, innovative, and creative recipes. Among the other judging criteria: appearance, color, presentation; texture, balance of ingredients, and flavor, aroma. Prizes valued at $175 are up for grabs. This contest made possible by Blue Ribbon Group with support from Kowalski’s Markets and Salad Girl.

State Fair Baking, Cooking & More

Don’t miss this treasured tradition that hundreds of Minnesotans take part in every year. You’ll rub elbows with like-minded home cooks and hobby bakers on entry drop-off day and once the fair opens see what wins in display cases throughout the Creative Activities Building. The experience is also a wonderful warm-up for the upcoming holiday baking season.

First Time Participant or Need a Refresher?

All registration goes through the Minnesota State Fair competition department. Registration is free! There’s also no obligation if you later can’t participate. Go to the Competitions/Creative Activities/Baked Products section at MNStateFair.org to sign up (under the Participants tab).

Quick-start tips:

  1. Find all baking rules, regs, open classes, and cool special contests here and be sure to download the Creative Activities/Baked Goods Premium Book Section. Jump to pages 12-18 for the special contests, page by page.
  2. Sign up for the Competition Department email list here and be sure to choose “Creative Activities” as your email list.
  3. Create your online account here (then be sure your registration clears and is confirmed).
  4. For step-by-step guidance, go here.