Tag: Blue Ribbon Group

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

 

 

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

 

2023 “Top 30 State Fairs” List

2023 “Top 30 State Fairs” List  

As long-time state fair baking/cooking contest managers, the Blue Ribbon Group is excited to share, for the first time publicly, our 2023 “Top 30 State Fairs” list. With this list we offer our answer to the often-asked question: What are the best state fairs in the United States?

This new compilation is based exclusively on two factors: per day attendance numbers (total 2022 attendance divided by total days open) and their baking competitions (history of past Blue Ribbon Group special contests).  All 30 fairs have higher per day attendance than any other U.S. state fairs happening July to October each year.

2023 "Top 30 State Fairs" List

Top 10

Topping this 2023 “Top 30 State Fairs” list is the Minnesota State Fair, followed by the Tulsa State Fair, State Fair of Texas, Iowa State Fair, and Wisconsin State Fair. Here are the top 10, listed in order, followed by the complete list noting each fairs’ dates and attendance numbers. 

  1. Minnesota State Fair
  2. Tulsa State Fair
  3. State Fair of Texas
  4. Iowa State Fair
  5. Wisconsin State Fair
  6. North Carolina State Fair
  7. Oklahoma State Fair
  8. Ohio State Fair
  9. New York State Fair
  10. Illinois State Fair

Best State Fairs w/ Blue Ribbon Baking Contests

Awesome Attendance Numbers

  • Attendance numbers in 2022, ranged from 26,224 to 153,519 for per day averages, and 287,367 to 2,500,000 for overall total attendances.
  • All take place between July and November, with the majority happening in August, September and October. 
  • All are official state fairs with two caveats. The Tennessee State Fair and Wilson County Fair essentially merged in 2021, with the Wilson County Fairgrounds location becoming it’s home. The Salem Fair is the largest in Virginia with a 350,000 attendance in 2022.  

Since 2006, Blue Ribbon Group has managed special recipe contests at large state, county and regional fairs. Find a collection of winning recipes at BlueRibbonGroup.net and featured on BlueRibbonFoodies on Instagram and Facebook

2023 Minnesota State Fair Special Baking Contests

2023 Minnesota State Fair Special Baking Contests Celebrate Healthy Cookies, Low-Sugar Chocolate Desserts, Citrus Cakes & More

Minneapolis-St Paul, MN – June 20, 2023 – Minnesota hobby bakers and home cooks are hitting their kitchens to vie for big blue ribbon bragging rights and prizes in our special contest series at the 2023 Minnesota State Fair.

Register by Tue Aug 1, 2023, 4:30pm, All Baking Contests Sat Aug 19, 2023

At the Minnesota State Fair, our hometown fair, look for these new special contests, each with $100 to $200 for first place, plus runner-up prizes. Registration is now open. It closes Tue Aug 1, 2023, 4:30pm CT. All contests happen Sat Aug 19, 2023, drop off 9:30am to 1pm, Creative Activities Building. Winners announced Thu Aug 24, 2023. Having trouble finding what you need? Drop us a line here.

Kowalski’s Markets “Citrus Cake Contest”

Bring sunshine to the table with your best and brightest, citrus-flavored cakes. Feature lemon, lime, orange, or other tangy citrus ingredients 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. Prizes: $100 1st, $50 2nd, $25 3rd (gift cards).

Join Kowalski’s Markets in celebrating opening day of the fair Thursday August 24th, with their Cambria Kitchen “takeover,” an event, not to be missed They’ll feature local growers with demos and off complimentary samples and other giveaways throughout the day.

Splenda Magic Baker “Low-To-No Sugar Showdown” Theme: Chocolate Desserts

Make your favorite chocolate sweet treats for this Low-To-No Sugar Showdown. Use little to no added sugar. Think pies, pastries, puddings, custards, cakes, cookies, or cheesecakes. Sweeten your entry with 1/4 cup or more of any Splenda product, such as Splenda Magic Baker, a new plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener. It measures and tastes like sugar. Use it 1 to 1 for replacing sugar. Prizes: $200 1st, $100 2nd, $50 3rd (gift cards).

UnitedHealthcare “Healthy Cookie Contest”

Make energy bars, on-the-go sweet treats or any cookie that has a health-minded twist or theme. Use “good-for-you” ingredients that help you power through the day, have nutritional value, or are a fit for special diets. Think protein powders, nuts, nut butters, fruits, and seeds. You can even simply “healthify” your favorite cookie to have less sugar, fat or calories. Your entry can be baked or no-bake style. The term “cookie” is open to interpretation and that’s intentional. Prizes: $200 1st, $100 2nd, $50 3rd.

Blue Ribbon Baker Awards

In addition to the Minnesota State Fair Special Baking Contests 2023, we also organized Minnesota State Fair Blue ribbon baker awards for anyone winning 1st place for any cookie and cake classes in general baking. Each will receive a $25 gift card.

 

Key Dates to Remember

  • Competitors Register by Tue Aug 1, 2023, 4:30pm
  • Drop Off Day Sat Aug 19, 2022, 9:30am to 1pm
  • View Winner Displays & Recipe Demos Aug 24 to Sep 4 in Creative Activities Building

First Time Participant or Need a Refresher?

All registration goes through the Minnesota State Fair competition department. Registration is free! Once you’re signed up, there is 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 12-14 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.

Lime Pistachio Bundt Cake

Lime Pistachio Bundt Cake: this cake, with it’s bright tangy flavor and distinct nutty taste is a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

Overhead shot of Lime & Pistachio Bundt Cake

If you’re a fan of citrus, this is the cake for you. We also invite you to compete at the 2023 Minnesota State Fair, in the new Kowalski’s Markets Citrus Cake Contest. Learn more about the 2023 special contests here.

SPLENDA LOW-TO-NO SUGAR SHOWDOWN 2023

SPLENDA LOW-TO-NO SUGAR SHOWDOWN

Baking Contest Seeks Best Low-To-No Sugar Pies, Cookies, Cakes, Breads, Chocolate Desserts, Citrus Sweet Treats

Minneapolis-St Paul, MN – June 20, 2023 – Watch for the Splenda Magic Baker “Low-To-No-Sugar Showdown” 2023 state fair recipe contest series this summer in 6 different cities in the Midwest and two southern states. If you love cakes, cookies, pies, and other sweet treats but prefer them with little to now sugar, this competition is for you!

$350 in Prizes at Each of 6 Fairs

Six prominent state fairs will host the contest, including Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, and Arkansas. Prizes are $200 for 1st place, $100 for 2nd place, and $50 for 3rd place. Judges choose winners for the best flavor combinations, taste and aroma, among other criteria.

Splenda Magic Baker Low to No Sugar Showdown

The pop-up events will feature giveaways of Splenda Magic Baker, the brand’s new zero-calories, zero-sugar sweetener, while supplies last. Splenda Magic Baker comes in 16 ounce bags. It measures and tastes like sugar. Use it 1 to 1 for replacing sugar. You can find recipes and baking tips at Splenda.com.

 

Six Fairs – Six Sets of Prizes

Here’s a quick run-down of when each fair is, a link to their competition department, their contest theme, register by date, contest date, and location at the fairgrounds. Most fair’s require advance registration, which bakers do, directly with each fair’s competition department.

For questions about competing, contact the fair’s entry office or the Blue Ribbon Group here.  If you can’t compete at any of the above 6 fairs, don’t fret. Read below about our bonus prizes for low to no sugar state fair winning recipes.

Want to Win Year’s Supply of Splenda Magic Baker Sweetener?

Bonus Prizes for Sugar-Free Winning Bakers at ANY Blue Ribbon Group Top 30 Fair

We invite you to compete in any general baking class/category at ANY of our top 30 fairs for a shot at winning a year’s supply of Splenda Magic Baker ($96 value). To qualify, use any Splenda product and place 1st, 2nd or 3rd at your fair, in any general baking class/category. Then submit your details, winning recipe, and photo here by 11:59pm on October 13, 2023. We will choose up to 6 winners: 1 for each of 6 U.S. regions, if applicable: Midwest, Southwest, Southeast, Northeast, Pacific, or Rocky Mountain regions. Winners will be chosen and contacted by year-end, by 11:59pm on December 31, 2023.

Good luck to all the participants!

This post was originally published June 20, 2023 and was updated July 13, 2023.

 

Oatmeal Cookie Sliders

Oatmeal Cookie Sliders: chewy oatmeal cookies sandwich a creamy rich filling in this blue ribbon winning cookie from the Arkansas State Fair.

Oatmeal Cookie Sliders 2

Oatmeal cookies are a classic. The reason why is they are delicious and easy to make. So are these oatmeal cookie sliders.. I love it when winners put a fun spin on an quintessential cookie. A couple other all-time favorites are these “slider-like” sweet treats and these “twisted” peanut butter cookies.

Recipe credit goes to Rhonda Hull, who took first place for them back in 2014. One taste and you will agree: they are a winner! The mouth feel of these cookies are marvelous and you will not want to stop at one.

-Cyndi

 

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

The classic peanut butter cookie is reinvented with these Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies. Minnesota State Fair contester Loretta Ratajczyk created these. The simple but inventive additions of chocolate, chopped peanuts, and crushed vanilla wafers, paid off! Loretta won 1st place and blue ribbon bragging rights in our special cookie contest back in 2013 .

What also makes these peanut butter cookies so incredibly tasty is her addition of almond flavoring. Just wait until you try these! They are also easy and fun to make. In fact, my daughter Olivia enjoyed helping me this time around. Check out the steps below to see how we put together these award-winning cookies.

Step-By-Step: Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

While your oven warms up (set to 375 degrees F), mix together the sugars, butter, shortening, peanut butter, and egg.

Classic cookie ingredients

Here comes what I like to consider the “secret” ingredient- almond flavoring, instead of typical vanilla. Once the batter is mixed, add it in. It really gives the cookie a fantastic flavor. Next combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt to the mixture. Get everything mixed together and shape dough into walnut sized balls. Olivia was a fantastic helper during this step.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies Olivia

Dip tops into sugar. Place sugared dough balls on a baking sheet, sugar side up. Crisscross tops with a fork. This step in making peanut butter cookies always makes me think of making them as a child. It’s classic.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies Step 2

Bake 10-11 minutes, or until lightly-browned. Allow to set 5 minutes on cookie sheet. Remove and fully cool.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies Step 3

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

While cookies are cooling, prepare the topping ingredients. Grind together the peanuts and vanilla wafers. I used a food processor for a finer texture. You could also put the ingredients in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second increments. Loretta has a great tip: to thin the chocolate she adds a generous tablespoon of solid shortening when melting the chocolate. Here is my toppings station.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies Step 4

Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate. To apply the peanut and vanilla wafer topping, you can either dip the cookie into the mixture, or set the chocolate dipped cookie on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with topping. Refrigerate a few minutes for a quick set. I recommend this, because you won’t want to wait to bite into these cookies!

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies 2

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

Another great winner’s tip is to save any leftover peanut/wafer mixture. It can be frozen and used for other desserts. Bonus!

Here’s Olivia proudly displaying her hard work:

Thank you Loretta for a wonderful recipe!

-Crystal

Note: This was previously published on our former website, StateFairRecipes.com. Find another all-time favorite from our archives with this epic cookie here.

Pineapple Coconut Cream Pie

This Pineapple Coconut Cream Pie is a 1st place winning recipe from the State Fair of Texas. It’s an all-time favorite from our archives, from a 2016 pie contest. Bake like a blue ribbon winner with this recipe. You will wow your friends, family, and your taste buds.

If you have never made a pineapple coconut cream pie this is a terrific recipe to start with because it’s got a great crust recipe and straightforward instructions for the two layers.

Slice of Pineapple Coconut Cream Pie

We did a test run and absolutely loved its flavors and its texture. The crust ingredients come together nicely and nothing beats a homemade pie crust. This version uses butter flavored shortening. If you prefer a butter/lard crust, try this one here.

Tip: use a pre-made refrigerated pie crust if making your own sounds too intimidating. It’s okay if you need a time-saving shortcut.

The filling in this pineapple coconut cream pie is sweet, rich, fruity, thick, and lush. The meringue whips up in a easy breezy wonderful way. It is velvety and that’s a good thing.  The toasted top gives it a picture-perfect finishing touch.

Beautiful meringue atop a blue ribbon Pineapple Coconut Pie

Sue Rainey: Queen of the Crust

This award-winning recipe comes from Sue Rainey, a long time baking contest participant at the State Fair of Texas. Sue’s friends call her the “queen of the crust.” Baking is an art and her talents are plentiful.

Her top tips for perfect, flaky crusts: handle the dough as little as possible and use the least amount of flour you can when rolling it out. Sue also favors the intensity of vanilla from Mexico. She goes through giant bottles of it during her busiest baking times of the year: the State Fair of Texas and the year-end holidays.

Sue originally titled her creation “Paradise in Texas Coconut Pineapple Pie.” One taste and you’ll be in paradise yourself.

Enjoy!

Cyndi

 

Best Cream Pie Winner: Blackberry Mojito Cream Pie

This Blackberry Mojito Cream Pie won our best cream pie contest at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. The award-winning pie combines a luscious key lime filling with a blackberry mint purée you swirl on top.

There’s a classic graham cracker crust at the bottom and homemade whipped cream on top. You finish this beauty with fresh blackberries and fresh mint as your garnishes. It makes for a striking presentation.

Blackberry Mojito Cream Pie

“Exceptional” was how the deciding judge described this creative key lime pie. And each slice is gorgeous.

Individual slice, creative cream pie

Melinda Chapel is the pie’s creator. She was bursting with pride upon learning she won.

Melinda says you can make the pie with fresh or frozen blackberries. We used fresh in our trial and loved the results. You’ll want to make the fruit purée in advance. You could also pre-make the graham cracker crust.

Sliced Blackberry Mojito Cream Pie

You muddle fresh mint leaves for the blackberry purée. Mint is also featured in the filling, which you make with fresh key lime juice steeped in mint leaves.  Sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks do the magic of sweetening and setting the filling. The result is nothing short of perfection.

Whole colorful pie: Blackberry Mojito Cream Pie

Run, don’t walk, to the grocery store for this winning recipe’s ingredients. And if you’re looking for more Minnesota State Fair winning creations, use the search option and enter “Minnesota,” from any page on our blog. The MN Blackout Cake has been especially popular.

-Cyndi