Author: Cyndi Harles

Chocolate Pudding Cups

Say hello to these sensational and succulent-inspired Chocolate Pudding Cups!  Pudding never tasted this good or looked as cute!

Plated Chocolate Pudding Cups

This easy, homemade dessert will wow your dinner party guests every time. They will want to dive their spoon into these the second you set them down.

Low-To-No Sugar

With no added sugar, these chocolate pudding cups also come with less guilt than your typical dessert like these. At the same time, they are rich, satisfying and deeply chocolatey.

You make “them,” or should we say “it,” with a handful of high quality ingredients. The recipe is not unlike a custard. In fact, with both eggs and cornstarch as ingredients, it’s both. Some would call it “budino,” the Italian term we also love. But alas, we grew up calling it pudding so we’re sticking with that.

The main ingredients?

  • semi-sweet chocolate chips – use ones with less or no added sugar, like these
  • egg yolks
  • Splenda Magic Baker, our favorite zero calorie, zero sugar sweetener
  • salt
  • heavy whipping cream
  • cornstarch
  • vanilla extract

Those 7 ingredients are all this decadent dessert requires. But then, the extra fun really starts. You can make whipped cream and pipe it on top of the pudding, in any way you desire. We love simple dollops or spiral tops that resemble succulent plants, like what we did these.

Closeup of Chocolate Pudding Cups

Chocolate bar shavings make an excellent garnish. A drizzle would be dandy as well.

However you deck this low/no sugar dessert out, you’ll enjoy every bit of it!

-Cyndi

 

Best Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

For holiday baking – or any time of year – these “Best Chocolate Orange Cupcakes” are a sure-fire favorite. Seriously. Total crowd pleaser!
8 plated Best Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
The batter has vegetable oil and buttermilk in it, creating a rich, fudgy cupcake that practically glows.
Batter in cupcake pan
Best Chocolate Orange Cupcakes - Mid Frosting
With a thick citrus buttercream frosting and festive chocolate orange section on top, you get an eye-catching dessert everyone will love.
Decorated Best Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
Baker Tips:
  • Use a high-quality cocoa powder for a rich chocolate flavor to the cupcake. We used a combo of Dutch cocoa powder and black cocoa and loved the results.
  • Stock up on Terry’s Chocolate Oranges when you find them. They’re seasonal and can be hard to find
  • Because the orange extract goes in both the batter and the frosting, use a high-quality brand for a natural tasting citrus flavor. We like these citrus oils from the King Arthur Baking Company. Fresh juice and zest is key also.

Frosting

Winner at Minnesota State Fair

These best chocolate orange cupcakes are an award-winning creation from Colleen Jensen.
She had a big win with them at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. Out of 75 entries, these placed third, bested only by this show-stopper winning cake (1st Place) and a Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake (2nd place) we hope to make at some point. That’s essentially a second runner up or a “bronze medal” Olympic win. =)
Colleen titled her contest entry “Merry’s Chocolate Orange Cupcakes.” The name is a play on the “merry” holidays and the popular Terry’s brand that makes the festive candy that the cupcakes feature.
Terry's Chocolate Orange Popping Candy
Terry’s Chocolate Oranges are quite an experience. Gifting them to family and friends is a long-time tradition in the U.K. The whack/crack way of opening the candy is delightful.
Chocolate Orange Candy
If you don’t have first-hand knowledge of the “tap it and unwrap it” process, be sure try it out soon.
These Chocolate Orange Cupcakes are a “must-bake” for anyone who loves chocolate or citrus sweet treats. Enjoy!
-Cyndi

Spiced Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake

Spiced Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake: Denese Johnson baked this cake for the 2022 State Fair of Texas and won “Best Low-Sugar Bundt Cake.” Ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin, and maple syrup flavor this cake to greatness. Its taste makes it perfect for fall and holiday baking.

Overhead shot of Spiced Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake

Denese sweetened her Spiced Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Splenda Magic Baker, a zero calorie sweetener you use 1:1 for replacing sugar. As a result, this cake is less indulgent than others. Denese used both the classic and brown sugar versions of Splenda Magic Baker. The recipe also calls for canned pumpkin and sugar-free maple syrup, adding to the sweetness and complexity of flavors. (You could also use fresh baked pumpkin also.) You finish this fabulous cake with a rum butter glaze. This makes for a moist, rich bite with every forkful.

Spiced Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake with Ice Cream

 

This Spiced Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake pairs perfectly with ice cream. My personal favorite is serving it with Kemp’s seasonal cinnamon flavor ice cream. Delightful! We highly recommend you make this soon!

Denese Johnson

Hats off to Denese for this delicious cake you’re going to want to bake again and again. Look for more recipes from Denese in the coming months as she has won MANY blue ribbons in her day. We’re bound to make another soon.

We now have quite a number of winning State Fair of Texas recipes. If you want to peruse more, simply search for Texas in the search bar that you can find on this page, here.

Happy Baking!

Cyndi

 

Apple Pie Cookies

These lattice-topped Apple Pie Cookies are totally tasty and so much fun to make. They won first place at the 2015 Wisconsin State Fair in one of our special contests. The blue ribbon winning cookie recipe comes from Linda Faust. They are an all-time favorite we highly recommend baking.

Linda’s crust calls for coconut oil and uses both white and wheat flours.

Base of Apple Pie Cookies

As a result, the sturdier crust works great to hold the filling and its shape.

Assembly of Apple Pie Cookies

The apple pie cookies recipe is below. You’ll follow these seven easy steps.

  • Pulse the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  • Roll out into 2 equal 9-inch square portions
  • Cut 1 portion into 1/2-inch strips
  • Cut second portion into 3-inch side-by-side circles
  • Spoon filling into center
  • Weave lattice with strips on top and seal
  • Brush with egg wash and bake

4 Ingredient Filling

The cookie filling has just 4 ingredients:

  • apples
  • cinnamon
  • sugar
  • nutmeg

You cook the apples in a microwave, so it’s ready in minutes. The assembly is the fun part. They’ll be ready for the oven in no time.

The recipe makes 9 cookies. Feel free to double the recipe if you want a bigger batch.

Note: If you’re looking for a whole apple pie, make this blue ribbon winner.

Enjoy!

-Cyndi

 

 

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Cream Pie

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Cream Pie: This delightful dessert is a homemade pudding atop a delicious graham cracker crust. You finish it with graham cracker crumbles, fresh strawberries and a dark chocolate drizzle.

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Cream Pie 1

It’s a super simple version of a stunning Strawberry Napoleon Pie that a home-baker featured at the State Fair of Texas back in 2015. She won best pie honors with an elaborate and amazing recipe from Michele Stuart, author of “Perfect Pies & More.” We made a shortcut version of Michelle’s pie.

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Cream Pie 2

For my fresh strawberry vanilla cream pie, I switched to a graham cracker crust like my grandmother used for her banana cream pies. You thicken the vanilla cream over heat with flour and egg yolks. Once it’s chilled, you are ready to go. The waiting is the hardest part of this pie. Be sure to wait until the vanilla cream thickens and wait for it to firm up more by chilling it. That said, it is totally worth the wait.

I ended up making this pie numerous times as it was so popular. Sometimes I would vary it and add a homemade whipped cream on top.

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Cream Pie

Make this and you will enjoy every bite! Want a sensational strawberry cookie? Try this creative one. And if you’re looking for a double crust fruit pie using strawberries, find one here. Both are absolute winners.

Enjoy!

-Cyndi

 

German Chocolate Cake

Are you looking for a cake that will wow a crowd? If so, this German Chocolate Cake is for you! Paula Buchanan won Best Cake at the 2015 Illinois State Fair with this recipe (adapted from Baker’s Chocolate). One taste and you will agree it’s a winner. The cake and homemade frosting are heavenly. I can’t wait to make this again for our next family holiday get together!

-Crystal

 

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcakes: Any time I come across a recipe for something I grew up baking with my mom, I’m filled with warm fuzzies and food cravings. Lots of no-bake cookies and “strike-it-rich” cakes come to mind. Imagine my delight then, when I bought this Guittard Chocolate Cookbook.

I was blasted to the past with these “Black Bottom Cupcakes.” They were a go-to treat in my family, bigtime. I was thrilled to make them again after all these years.

Black Bottom Cupcakes 2

This “cake-meets-cheesecake” dessert is so absolutely fabulous. I couldn’t even wait until they fully cooled to dig into one. It is definitely a winning recipe!

Black Bottom Cupcakes 3

Warm, melted chocolate chips inside a tangy cream cheese filling, all surrounded by a rich and tender chocolate cupcake. There’s something about this ingredient combination that is marvelous. As a bonus, these cupcakes are incredibly easy to make!

Easy Bake

Once you prep the batter, divvy it up in a lined cupcake tin.

Black Bottom Cupcakes Step 1

Whip up the cream cheese filling. Add that on top of the chocolate batter.

Black Bottom Cupcakes Step 2

After about 20 minutes in the oven, you get your Black Bottom Cupcakes.

Black Bottom Cupcakes Step 3

Thank you Guittard for taking me and my taste buds back in time. This one is blue ribbon worthy for sure! Their recipe was my inspiration, but I changed a few things. I used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, and added almond extract. I also upped all the amounts of cocoa, cream cheese, and chocolate chips. Coffee creamer came in handy when I didn’t have whole milk. Plus I made a few other minor tweaks.

Solo cupcake

Black Bottom Cupcakes is a forgiving (translate: very easy) recipe, so it is a fun one to make with kids. Grab your ingredients and get baking!

-Cyndi

p.s. The Guittard Chocolate Cookbook is filled with fabulous recipes. I give it a thumbs up and hope you buy it. Here’s a link.

 

Meat & Sweet Potato Hash Bowls

Meet my new go-to weeknight meal: Meat & Sweet Potato Hash Bowls. I make them mots often with turkey sausage, but any protein will work. If you want an easy, delicious weeknight dinner, make this recipe.

Meat & Sweet Potato Hash Bowls with Egg

Its inspiration came in waves. First, I’m obsessed with the Korean beef and pulled pork hash bowls at Dayblock Brewing Company in Minneapolis. They serve them on select Sundays year-round, but not every Sunday, sadly.

Second, I’ve been walking down memory lane, looking over old archived winning recipes. There are a lot of sausage-themed ones from the 1990’s, a treasure trove of brunch bakes, savory pies, quiches and casseroles. This got me craving flavorful sausages. I picked up some Jennie-O All Natural Turkey Sausage with the mission of developing an easy hash. I found this Turkey Sausage Potato Hash and was off to a good start and ready to make my own. What I was also excited about: another great recipe using delicious sweet potatoes and other vegetables.

Start to Finish

First I diced and browned the sausage with some olive oil (on high until it was mostly cooked), then removed it from the heat to cook the veggies.

Getting Started

I sauteed sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, onions, and Brussels sprouts.

Key Ingredients

I diced the sweet potatoes small and quartered the sprouts so that everything will cook at an even pace.

Meat & Sweet Potato Hash Bowls - Ingredients

I sauteed that all with olive oil for a few minutes, then added the turkey sausage back in, along with fresh chopped garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and paprika. A few minutes later and dinner was on the table. SO EASY! And SO delicious.

Meat & Sweet Potato Hash Bowls In Pan

Meat & Sweet Potato Hash Bowls: I will do this one again and again, maybe changing up the spices and vegetables. The sweet potatoes might be a constant though. Chopped spring onions go great on top; a fried egg too, if that’s your thing.

A Make Ahead Meal

What’s also great about this dish is you can make a single or double batch ahead of time, and just heat up portions in a sauté pan for quick meals. I hope you enjoy this dish as much we did! Looking for more meals with sweet potato? This this one!

-Cyndi

 

Best Low-Sugar Layer Cake

This Best Low-Sugar Layer Cake recipe won its top honors at the 2022 State Fair of Texas.

The gluten-free and sugar-free carrot cake is a “must make” recipe for those avoiding gluten, as it’s made with almond flour.

The recipe comes from Sally Muhl, who baked and won with it at last year’s fair.

Gluten-Free Best Low-Sugar Layer Cake 

We re-baked it, as both a cake and as cupcakes. One bite in, we could see clearly why it won. With 2 1/2 cups of grated carrots in the cake, cinnamon, a touch of molasses, and pineapple extract, we found the cake moist and flavorful. It also has just the right amount of sweetness.

Baking Tips

If you like extra frosting, double the recipe and you can frost the sides and have a thick filling between the two cake layers.

Slices of Best Low-Sugar Layer Cake

The recipe makes one layer cake, 24 classic-sized cupcakes, or 48 mini cupcakes.
We invite you to bake this best low-sugar layer cake recipe. If you do, post it on Instagram or Facebook and tag us @BlueRibbonFoodies and of course @Splenda.
And if you’re looking for more diabetes-friendly baked goods, check out the best low-sugar fruit pie here or visit Splenda.com.

State Fair of Texas Best Sugar-Free Pie

State Fair of Texas Best Sugar-Free Pie: This recipe earned its “best sugar-free pie” at the 2022 State Fair of Texas. It’s a blueberry apple pie that’s packed with 6 cups of blueberries and a sliced apple.

Cut State Fair of Texas Best Sugar-Free Pie

The recipe is from Robert Cook, who has won MANY times at the State Fair of Texas. Learn how to make this “sweetened with Splenda” award-winning pie with Robert’s detailed recipe below.

My family raved about this pie when my niece re-created it for a special occasion. They especially liked how it wasn’t overly sweet.

The filling cooks up perfectly and the pie sliced just how you want it to.

Blue Ribbon Blueberry Apple Pie

If you love fruit pies, this is the recipe for YOU! And if you want more blue ribbon winning pie recipes, simply search for “fruit pie” on our site and you’ll find a huge collection of drool-worthy delights.

Enjoy!

-Cyndi