Tag: state fair winning recipe

Jumbo Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies

These Jumbo Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies are a terrific twist on a traditional peanut butter cookie. You put chopped Butterfinger candy bars into the cookie itself and sprinkle them over a chocolate topping. Every bite is rich and chewy and absolutely delicious. I’ve had more than one person tell me these are the best cookies in the universe.

Plated Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies

This recipe is the epitome of a creative cookie that can win a special recipe contest. In fact, these did and recipe credit goes to Mackenzie Nelson, an Arkansas State Fair blue ribbon baker.

Tips & Tidbits

  • This recipe makes a monster-sized batch, as in 58 medium sized cookies, or almost 30 in jumbo, 3 ounce portions. It can easily be halved.
  • We like the jumbo size, like a bakery-style cookie. You can also opt for a smaller size and higher quantity batch.
  • If you flatten the rolled cookies into discs, you get a nice even bake.
  • Notice you use egg whites and not whole eggs
  • This dough works well if chilled before baking. You can even freeze in batches to pull out whenever.
  • You can alter how finely you chop the candy bars to your liking.
  • Change up how you top these, either by dipping or by spreading the chocolate on top.

Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies

Jumbo Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies: Step by Step

We walk you through the process here, starting with gathering and measuring your ingredients. We went with the big 3.7 ounce size candy bars. Once you buy them, make sure “no one lays a finger on your Butterfinger” supply.

Best Ever Jumbo Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies

You can alter how finely you chop the candy bars to your liking. I did a combo of bigger and smaller pieces, vs all finely chopped or all rough chopped. Any which way is delicious. It’s mostly the overall texture and look of the cookie that changes with how you chop the Butterfingers.

Step by step Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies

Then you start mixing up the dough, beginning with creaming the butter and sugars.

Step by step Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies

You’re off to a good start when the mixture looks like this.

Step by step Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies

Next, you add 3/4 of your chopped Butterfingers.

Butterfinger Cookies

Once you mix them in…

mixed cookie dough

Get your scoop! We used an ice cream scoop to get the 3 ounce portion.

Ready to scoop jumbo peanut butter cookies

Make sure you set them apart with ample room to spread out.

cookie dough balls

Once they’re baked, you microwave the chocolate and remaining butter, for dipping or spreading on top. A flat spatula works nicely to remove extra chocolate on the cookie’s bottom. Do this stage quickly and in batches so the Butterfinger crumbles stay put on the chocolate.

inspired peanut butter cookies

You could also opt to spoon the chocolate across the top for full coverage.

Jumbo Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies-fully loaded

If you love Butterfinger candy bars, you’ll love this epic cookie. And if you’re into candy-bar-inspired sweet treats, check on this cake!

-Cyndi

dipped cookies

Prize-Winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

These homemade, aromatic, prize-winning parmesan & chive scones are simply the best savory scones, in more ways than one.

You will relish their phenomenal taste and tender yet firm texture. Their golden brown appearance is drool-worthy for sure. If you love savory scones like we do, be sure to bake these soon! They are perfect for weekend brunches and snacks in between meals.

Prize-winning parmesan & chive scones

This remarkable recipe comes from Amy Ellenberger.

Blue Ribbon Baker - Best Scone Winner 2021 MN State Fair

Amy won “Best Scones” at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair with this recipe. One taste and you’ll know why this one is a winner.

We asked Amy what her secret to winning was. In her words: “Because scones are a fairly simple baked good (as in few ingredients), it is important to use the best quality ingredients, as there isn’t much to hide behind. For this recipe I like to use (Minnesota-based) Hope Creamery butter, a sour cream (like Daisy) that doesn’t contain thickeners and other artificial ingredients, garden fresh chives, and high-quality Parmesan cheese that is freshly grated.”

Step by Step Tutorial

Take Amy’s top tip and begin with the best ingredients.

Parmesan Chive Scones

You start by mixing the dry ingredients with the cheese and chives.

Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

Next, you cut in the cold butter. By the way, Amy’s family buys Hope Creamery butter by the case.

Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

At this stage you want to see the chilled butter in tiny clumps, roughly the size of peas.

Butte Cut in Stage - Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

You also use both sour cream and buttermilk in the recipe, plus an egg.

Prize-Winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

Mix the sour cream, buttermilk and egg smooth, then combine that mixture with your flour mixture.

Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

Once everything is together, you want a shaggy look to the dough.

Be careful not to overwork the dough. Shape it into a flat circle. You want it 1 ½ inches thick.

Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

Then cut out the scones. You should get 12 (2-inch size) rounds (or squares if you prefer that shape).

Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

As your final step, you brush each with heavy cream, then sprinkle with parmesan, a pinch of sea salt, and fresh cracked black pepper. You also want to chill them 30 minutes at this stage.

From Amy: Don’t skip the chilling step. This ensures the butter is solid and won’t leak out of your scones during baking.

Prize-Winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

After the chill time, the only thing to do is wait for them to bake (at 350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 25-30 minutes.

Prize-Winning Parmesan & Chive Scones: every bite will be pure delight. Seriously. Hit the kitchen and bake these now!

-Cyndi

p.s. Scones are best eaten shortly after they are baked. However, you can opt to freeze the dough to fresh bake the scones later (ideally within 2 months). Or you can freeze them after baking. Just pop a frozen one in the microwave for about 30 seconds before you nosh.

 

Blue Ribbon Beer Bread

Say hello to this award winning Blue Ribbon Beer Bread. The recipe features the pilsner Wonderstuff, from Bauhaus Brew Labs in Minneapolis, along with cheddar cheese, rosemary, and honey. A thick slice of this bread solo or with a swipe of butter is pure bliss. It’s tender but hearty, and has a beautiful golden brown exterior.

The recipe comes from Cortney Carlson who won “best beer bread” with it at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair.

Cortney Carlson

This was her first blue ribbon win ever! In fact, she had only competed one other time, in 2019 for a special sugar cookie competition. Cortney shared, “Nothing came of the submission, but it ignited my interest in competing.”

Her recipe is easy to follow and replicate. It also great starting point for variations. After tasting and loving Cortney’s Blue Ribbon Beer Bread, we tried a cheddar, chive, and jalapeño version. It was really good also.

Winner Q&A

We caught up with Cortney for a Q&A recently. Read on to learn about her backstory.

BRG: What can you tell us about your Blue Ribbon Beer Bread recipe and why you chose it?

Cortney: While you’d think most people just KNOW they are submitting their (insert favorite recipe here… sugar cookies, sourdough, etc.), I actually stumbled across mine. When the categories for baking categories were released, I scanned the list for something to jump out at me. I like to try new recipes, new areas of baking, new techniques… so I didn’t go into this with a plan or recipe.

Immediately beer bread jumped out at me. My experience with bread was virtually nonexistent, but all the breweries around town, especially coming from Northeast Minneapolis? Not so much a mystery to me (hehehe).

Knowing little about bread, I looked at dozens of different recipes. I looked for types of beer bread, what types of things people added to them, and then just dove in. I liked the idea of adding an herb…I tried different cheeses, different styles of beers, and went back to the drawing board the more I tried things (that’s a MN nice way of saying the first attempts were gross). Once I started researching the right things, things started clicking and here we are. I landed on the attached final recipe.

BRG: What do you think your secret to winning was?

Cortney: The only thing larger than the amount of foods on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair is the Minnesota pride that you can feel in the air the entire twelve days of the fair. My recipe included ingredients made or headquartered in Minnesota. From local beer, honey, and cheese, to Pillsbury flour and rosemary grown at home… every part of that bread was a nod to people (myself) who say “ope” several times a day.

BRG: What is the worst disaster you’ve had in the kitchen and how did you deal with it?

Cortney: I’ve experienced the most average disasters – burning things, undercooking things, messing up a recipe, missing key ingredients, etc. The thing I’ve learned about kitchen disasters is that while it’s so disappointing and frustrating that day, the greatest lessons I’ve learned in the kitchen have come from the time I did it wrong.

BRG: What advice would you give young people wanting to cook/bake more?

Cortney:  Learn your staple dinners/desserts/contributions to potlucks, but don’t stay there. Try new areas of cooking. You like pie but have never made one? Try it. And know that you may not knock it out of the park the first try, but the more you try the more you will learn and can apply to the next recipe.

Great advice Cortney! Now everyone, get ready, set, and bake this bread!

-Cyndi

p.s. If you’re into breads, be sure to bake this blueberry winning recipe and this whole wheat winner.

Cashew Cookies with Brown Butter Frosting

If you love crunchy, flavorful, and rich-tasting sweet treats, look no further than these Cashew Cookies with Brown Butter Frosting. They were a top finalist in our Blue Ribbon Drop Cookie Contest.

Everyone who tastes these winning cookies raves about the frosting. Browning the butter was one of the winner’s secrets to success. Browned butter has a rich, nutty aroma and flavor. As a result, everything it goes into tastes divine, truly. Also, these cookies have a crispy addictive texture thanks to the whole cashews you bake in them.

Whole Cashews

Recipe credit goes to Gwen Benson who made these cookies for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair.

Cashew Cookie - Drop Cookie Contest Winner

Gwen won the Blue Ribbon Drop Cookie Contest that we sponsored, placing third overall. She began entering her baked goods at the fair 5 years ago as something to do with her daughter Lynsay. Gwen now has four state fair award ribbons for baking and 9 for crafting. Impressive!

Gwen says this cashew cookie recipe originated with Land O Lakes, but she has seen variations on it over the years, including a version passed around in her family, which was her main inspiration.

Excellent & Effortless Recipe

With classic ingredients, these cashew cookies with brown butter frosting are a breeze to make. Seriously, you will love how easily they come together. Check it out. Follow along as we walk you through the steps. Easy peasy!

You start with brown sugar and butter, mixing until creamy, then add the egg and vanilla.

Cookie dough prep

To that mixture, you add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and baking soda), alternating portions with the sour cream.

Dough

You mix in the whole cashews last, by hand, reserving a portion for garnish.

Cashew in Dough

We made our batch with just over a tablespoon of dough each, so small, to total 55 cookies. You bake them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for just 10-12 minutes.

Cookie sheet of dropped dough

The frosting’s star is browned butter, but it also has powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.

Frosting Ingredients + Cashews

Once baked, you finish the cookies with frosting and a sprinkling of finely chopped cashews.

Plated Cashew Cookies with Brown Butter Frosting

Yum! Enjoy!

-Cyndi

 

State Fair Apple Raspberry Pie

This State Fair Apple Raspberry Pie is a show stopper. It won both “best creative apple pie” and “best overall pie” at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair. Carol Marsh is the star state fair baker here. Her pie is beautifully designed and absolutely delicious. The filling tastes fantastic and has a firm yet tender texture. Fresh raspberries add a splash of color. Their sweetness pairs perfectly with tart apples.

State Fair Apple Pie

Carol has been competing at the Minnesota State Fair since 2010 and baking since she a child. This year, 2021, was a big year, with her winning four blue ribbons. They were for a 2-layer chocolate cake, a raisin bread, a classic apple pie, and this creative apple pie, which won best overall pie also. This makes her a 6 time pie sweepstakes winner (best overall pie 6x since 2010). That brings her total to 36 Minnesota State Fair ribbons for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place wins.

Carol, like a lot of us, finds much joy in baking. She knows the ideal texture of pie dough and how to have a thick filling. As a result, she finds baking pies a breeze. She has it down to a science.

State Fair Apple Pie Baker

Carol has won multiple times at the Minnesota State Fair with this recipe and slight variations on it. Carol recently baked her pie for me and we brought you along to experience the journey of making a perfect pie. Seeing her in action was so much fun!

Carol’s Pie Baking Tips – Step by Step

Chill your bowl and all your pie crust dough ingredients (dry, wet and shortening).

Dough mixture (with chilled shortening already cut in) should resemble cornmeal.Cornmeal Looking Stage

Carol strains her egg/vinegar mixture into the crust’s dry ingredients.

Allow enough time to also chill the dough, for at least an hour. Check out the beautiful texture Carol gets. State Fair Apple Pie dough

For the filling, Carol prefers using a combo of Granny Smith, Braeburn, and Pink Lady apples.

Layer the apples, butter, and raspberries. You’ll get a colorful look that doesn’t “bleed” much or look messy.Layering State Fair Apple Pie

Let your artistic side out by cutting and etching the leaves for the top crust like Carol did.Pie Crust Leaves

Layer and distribute the leaves evenly, so the top crust will bake uniformly.Leaf decoration on State Fair Apple Pie

Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar for some beautiful browning and sparkle.

The pie will be heaping with apples. While baking, the apples shrink, resulting in a full, lush-looking pie.Baked State Fair Apple Pie

The pie cuts beautifully and has a firm yet tender filling.State Fair Apple Pie

This State Fair Apple Raspberry Pie is a classic. Put it on your holiday baking list. And if you want another 2021 Minnesota State Fair winning pie, check out this blue ribbon winner also.

Enjoy!

-Cyndi

 

Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies

These Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies won best sandwich cookie and best overall cookie at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair. Their creamy filling, phenomenal flavor, and utter deliciousness will wow you with every bite.

Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies

A Winning History

Joan Kinsley

Joan Kinsley was the winning Minnesota State Fair baker. She adapted a Star Tribune Holiday Cookie Contest winning recipe that Annette Gustafson won with in 2020. Joan first entered the state fair baking competition in 2014, had a win, and was hooked on the annual tradition.

Joan’s version is a linzer look-alike with an opening on top so you see the inside filling inside, which is thick, creamy, rich, and absolutely divine.

Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies

We invite you to make them for the holidays and check out our step-by-step tips for reproducing these blue-ribbon-winning Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies. Did I mention that outstanding filling? =)

Special thanks to Joan fore re-baking her cookies for me. Same to the our friends at the Star Tribune for their recipe use permission and to Annette. We look forward to learning what more about this year’s Star Tribune Holiday Cookie Contest winners!

Secrets to Success

Joan estimates she made these cookies 5-6 times before entry drop-off at the fair. She spent hours tweaking ingredients and altering the thickness of the dough and the filling. She also adjusted baking times, temperature, and what kitchen tools she used. This seems to be a popular process among successful state fair blue ribbon baker, especially with recipes they’re new to. It pays off.

  • To achieve the “perfect bake” Joan keeps the dough chilled throughout the entire prep process: before rolling it out, afterward with the scraps she re-works, and even while the cut dough waits its turn in the oven.
  • Hint: Handle the dough as little as possible. It’s much easier to transfer and work with when chilled.
  • Joan prefers baking them on parchment that sits on a silpat baking mat with an air bake pan underneath.
  • You can opt to cut out the cookies an inch apart, directly on the parchment you’ll bake them on. This way the shapes stay fully intact because you’re not touching or moving them.
  • Joan uses an adjustable rolling pin (for an exact thickness) and a Linzer tart cookie cutter.
  • Joan also bakes her cookies 1 sheet at a time.

Step by Step

You make the cookies with flour, cinnamon, salt, butter, and brown sugar. Set out your butter ahead of time as you want it room temperature. Also, allow enough time to chill the dough at least 30 minutes.

Ingredients for Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies

When mixing the dough, it’s ready when the ingredients are just fully combined and clumps start to form. Like with pie dough, avoid over-mixing.

Prepped Dough

Pressing the dough out before chilling makes for an easier roll out. And seal it in plastic wrap. Ultimately you end up rolling it out between parchment layers.

Dough pressed out

Joan uses an adjustable rolling pin with rings to make the dough exactly 1/6th inch thick.

With the first portion of dough, you cut the cookie “bottoms.”

Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies

With the second portion of dough, you cut the cookie “tops” with the center cut out.

Wilton Linzer Cookie Cutter

Tip: cut out, then chill the unbaked cookies again and they will be easy to move with an offset spatula. Bake them an inch or more apart. Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies

You sprinkle all with a cinnamon/sugar mixture before baking, giving them some glitter and glam.

Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies

Then, simply keep a close eye on the oven. You want the bottoms to barely start to brown, which takes 12-14 minutes.

The filling features Biscoff cookie butter (available at most grocery stores in the peanut butter section), along with butter, and powdered sugar. I could eat this stuff by the spoonful.

Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies

Joan pipes hers on before spreading it even with an offset metal spatula.

Cinnamon Cookie Butter Cookies

All these tips and tricks were the secrets to her baking success.

The last thing you need to do is enjoy these better-than-anything blue ribbon cookies.

Happy baking!

-Cyndi

 

Coconut Curry Mango Cake

At the 2021 Minnesota State Fair baking competition, no one could have predicted how tasty this Coconut Curry Mango Cake was going to be, including me. With surprising ingredients and a colorful exterior, the cake stood out for its perfectly balanced flavors, rich taste, and tender yet firm texture.

Recipe credit goes to Maggie MacIntosh. She used a Cooks Illustrated coconut cake recipe as a starting point and began experimenting.

Creative Cake

Garam masala, turmeric, mango nectar, and mango crystals are among the unique ingredients Maggie features in this award winning cake. Between that creativity, how well she combined all the ingredient amounts, and how perfectly she baked the cakes, this Coconut Curry Mango Cake really stood out. Plus Maggie nailed it with the coconut aroma, in both the cake itself and the frosting. The mango filling was a colorful element that added yet another dimension to the cake. Well done!

Maggie won 1st place in our Blue Ribbon Best Coconut Cake Contest with this cake. She wins $100 in King Arthur Baking Company gift cards. Here’s a shot of Maggie and her daughter, celebrating her win and all the fun the fair has to offer. Congratulations Maggie!

Judging Criteria

If you’re curious about the winner selection process, here’s the judging criteria.

  1. Unique, innovative, creative recipe……………………………………………25%
  2. Appearance, color, presentation………………………………………………..25%
  3. Texture, internal appearance…………………………………………………….25%
  4. Flavor, aroma…………………………………………………………………………. 25%

Coconut Curry Mango Cake – Step by Step

Want to re-create the magic of Maggie’s coconut curry cake and its mango filling? We walk you through it with a detailed overview, including photos.

Here’s everything that goes into the batter, from the cake flour and spices, to butter, sugar, and eggs.

Batter ingredients

You starting with whipping the egg and egg whites before adding cream of coconut, water, and extracts.

Coconut Curry Mango Cake Egg Whites

Next, you mix the dry ingredients: cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garam masala, and turmeric.

Batter mixing stage 2

Then you mix in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Batter mixing stage 3

Once you slowly combine everything together…Batter mixing…you divide the batter between your prepped 8-inch pans. It makes a nice thick batter. Spread it around.

Batter in pans

While those bake and cool, get your filling ingredients together. Whip that up.

Coconut Curry Mango CakeDo the same with your buttercream frosting.

Coconut Curry Mango Cake

Whip it good. It should form stiff peaks. Here’s a shot when it’s reaching perfection.

Buttercream Frosting Stage 2

Last, you slice each cake in half to get 4 equal layers, then assemble everything together. A great tip from Maggie was to pipe the frosting on the edge of each layer to help hold in the filling.

Filling layer

We didn’t get shots of this, but applying a crumb coat–thinly frosting top and sides of cake before fully frosting the cake–prevents a messy look.

Finishing Touches

To finish, sprinkle toasted coconut on top and press into sides of cake. This will give the cake a classic look, like this.

Or you can opt to dye the toasted coconut in one or more colors and decorate in circular patterns on top (as winner did).

These resemble the colors Maggie used: yellow, orange, and red.

Dyed Coconut flakes

And this is her stencil she used decorating the top of her cake.

Feel free to reach out to us direct if you want help re-creating the multi-color decor Maggie used. We have additional notes from our test runs and Maggie we can share.

If you love this cake’s concept but want a faster, easier version of the recipe, stay tuned. We are working on a sheet cake version of this magical Coconut Curry Mango Cake we will share later.

In the meantime though, this cake makes a fun fall baking experience. Fun fact: some of our tasters thought the curry/turmeric combo was a tastier, gingery pumpkin spice. Give it a try and see what you taste.

Enjoy!

-Cyndi

 

Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Put these Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies on your must-make baking list. Their flavor shines bright with Chambord black raspberry liqueur, along with orange zest, chocolate chunks, and fresh red raspberries.

Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Minnesotan Rachael Hood created the cookie for the Blue Ribbon Drop-Style Cookie Contest at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair (a Blue Ribbon Group sponsored contest). She won 1st place and $100 in King Arthur Baking Company gift cards.

I also arranged for Rachael to showcase her cookies on a TV spot with me on KARE 11 Saturday, the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis. Yay for hometown PR! We had an absolute blast.

Blue Ribbon Baking 2021

Let’s get back to the cookie itself. If you are intrigued by this cookie, read on for some insights about it and how you can recreate the recipe.

Key Ingredients

With these Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies, the Chambord liqueur is key. It plays off the other ingredients so well, making for a terrific flavor combination that subtle, but not too subtle, and so well balanced with citrus and chocolate elements.

Display of Key Ingredients - Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I especially love the cookie’s scent you take in with each bite and the delicious lingering aftertaste.

Chambord – if you aren’t familiar with it – is a liqueur that combines XO Cognac and French spirits with Madagascan vanilla, honey and Moroccan citrus peel, making it an ideal flavor enhancer for these cookies. It originated in France, the Loire Valley specifically, in the 1600’s. Back then, with the many King Louis of the time, it was popular to sip cognac or liqueurs at fancy French meals.

Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Fast forward to today, the Chambord brand is owned by the same folks who own Jack Daniels. I was surprised to learn that in addition to black raspberries, they infuse blackberries and blackcurrants into it. You can find it in a variety of sizes. Since I had to go to a couple of stores to find it,I recommend calling ahead, especially if you want a specific size.

Bake Like a Blue Ribbon Winner

As always, before I add a recipe to this Blue Ribbon Foodies blog, there’s a baking test run. Walk through the recipe with us here and then give it a go yourself. The cookies are delicious and highly recommended.

Here’s everything that goes into the cookies (minus the food color), including the liqueur, fresh Driscoll raspberries, orange zest, and all-purpose flour from King Arthur Baking Company.

Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

You first sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Flour

Next you cream the butter and sugars before adding in the remaining wet ingredients and mixing until smooth. Sorry, no pic. I was too excited to get these into the oven! Finally, add the pre-mixed dry ingredients, and stir just until combined.

Then all that remains prep-wise is to chop the raspberries and gently mix everything together.

Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies Dough

Put both the fruit and juice in the dough. Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies Ingredients

Your dough should come out a bit like this.

Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto a parchment lined baking sheet. You’ll bake these 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees F.Dough on baking sheet

To experiment and to use ingredients already on hand, I varied from Rachael’s recipe just a bit. I used all semi-sweet chocolate chunks instead a combo of dark and milk chocolate and did not chop them fine, opting for larger chocolate pieces. I also used a different red food coloring. Here’s how mine came out!

Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Rachael chopped her chocolate by hand and smaller. She also used McCormick’s red food coloring.  Do both those things and you’ll match the color of Rachael’s cookie dough and end product.

Blue Ribbon Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

What a delight these were to bake and eat. We invite you to bake and share these cookies, or anything from our recipe collection. If you do, be sure to post a pic on Instagram or Facebook. Be sure we can follow along, by tagging:

  1. @blueribbonfoodies
  2. @mnstatefair
  3. #blueribbonbaking2021
  4. #kingarthurbaking

Hey Hey! You never know when we might do a giveaway!

-Cyndi

 

 

Best Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This Best Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe from Kathleen McCarron took first place at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair. Kathleen won top honors in the Blue Ribbon Best Fruit Pie special contest (and won $100 in King Arthur Baking Company gift cards). Her pie has a delicious, flaky crust you make with shortening, cold water, and of course, flour, sugar, and salt. The filling is chopped rhubarb and sliced fresh strawberries, making for a sweet, slightly tart taste to every bite.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Read on for some insights direct from Kathleen with our Winner Q&A:

What is your secret to baking great pies?

For me, the secret to a great pie is having a great crust. I love my family’s recipe, and rarely bother to use anything else, but (a perfect pie crust) is fairly tricky. It took me a number of years and at least a dozen pies to actually get the technique right, as judging exactly how far to cut the shortening into the dry ingredients took practice. To me, the effort is worth it because it tastes so good. We’ll sometimes bake the crust on it’s own with a bit of cinnamon sugar and eat it like cookies.

What can you tell me about your strawberry rhubarb pie and how the recipe came to be?

I first made this pie at the request of my father-in-law. I asked him what dessert he would like me to bring for a Father’s Day celebration, and he said that strawberry rhubarb was his favorite. After a quick google search, this one looked the best to me, as it had the least amount of sugar and he mentioned liking a tarter pie. I then doubled the cinnamon and substituted my family’s pie crust.

Do you have any helpful tips for someone making your recipe?

The trickiest part is the crust. Cutting the shortening to the size of small peas is important. A pastry cutter is faster, but it is possible to do this with a fork as well, as I did that for years. Leaving time to chill is also important, if you don’t rolling out will be more difficult.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Presentation is important. What are some of your tricks?

If I’m honest, I’ve always focused on taste first, presentation second. People will ooh and aah when something looks pretty, me included, but they only come back for more if it tastes good. Once I’m happy with the flavor, my next goal is usually to make it neatly, though sometimes I can’t even manage that. I almost didn’t turn this pie in because the juices burst through, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. And I won despite the untidiness!

What is the worst disaster you have had in the kitchen and how did you deal with it?

My family has a recipe for an apple cake with fudgy frosting that’s to die for. My mom had always made it as either a bundt cake or in a 9×13 pan, but I decided to try making it as a three layer cake. The first layer came out fine, but I didn’t leave time for the frosting to set before turning out the second layer, and the cake itself was too loose to hold together anyway. It was just this mound of broken cake and gloopy frosting. Unfortunately, I was making this cake for my sister’s birthday party, and didn’t have the time or ingredients to make anything else. Instead I just shoved some candles on top and apologized. Everyone at the party had a huge laugh, as this was by far the ugliest thing I had ever baked for them. Still tasted great!

Who does most of the cooking in your home?

I am both the cook and baker in my home, though both of my children are very interested in what goes on in the kitchen, particularly my son.  There are times that I’m rushing to get dinner on the table, and it just doesn’t work to have a three year old helping.  I have to promise him that he can help me make a dessert after we eat, and then he’ll happily mix together a box of pudding for us to enjoy.

What are some of your favorite family recipes?

I’ve always loved my mom’s apple pie, which is funny because she thinks it’s nothing special. She also makes a wonderful chicken salad and beef stew. For myself, I have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I love, and there’s peach and apricot pie I’ve made that gets really great reviews. This summer I’ve been experimenting with fancy burgers, and I also once made a beef Wellington that had the flavors of Rouladen that was particularly superb.

Strawberry Rhurbarb Pie winning baker

What advice would you give young people wanting to cook/bake more?

The biggest advice I can give is to read the recipe all the way through!  More than once, I’ve gotten stuck when I realize that a step I had just skimmed over was actually far more intense or difficult than I initially realized.

Also, it helps to have someone you can talk to about cooking, but who won’t step in and take over. I first really learned to cook during the summer after my senior year of high school. My parents told me that I was in charge of dinner on Tuesday nights. Inevitably, I would end up calling my dad 2-4 times over the course of the day to ask questions. What does this step mean? It calls for this cut of meat, but can I use this instead? I’ve watched mom make this before, but I’ve never seen her do this step, can I skip it?  I think he really looked forward to those calls, and both of my parents were very encouraging about the meals I made. I think I only needed to throw the whole thing out once and declare a pizza night instead.

What has been your biggest win in recipe competitions?

I think this blue ribbon is my biggest win to date.

What do you do for work?

Before the pandemic, I worked at the University of Minnesota in the Theater Department as a draper in the costume shop and as an adjunct professor. Lockdown decimated the theater industry, so now I am back in school working on my Initial Licensure/M.Ed degree for English Education.

Other hobbies besides baking?

I don’t have much free time between school and family, but I like to sew, particularly cross stitch.

 

We highly recommend Kathleen’s winning pie. Happy baking ya’ll!

-Cyndi

 

Tropical Coconut Cake Recipe

This Tropical Coconut Cake recipe makes a tender, rich cake you are going to absolutely love. Coconut cream goes into both the cake batter and the frosting. This enhances the texture as well as the flavor.

Slice of Tropical Coconut Cake, Minnesota State Fair Winner

Katie Knott won the King Arthur Great Cake Contest at the 2012 Minnesota State Fair with this recipe. She won first place and big-time bragging rights. Her cake was picked from dozens of competing cakes.

We think you will swoon over this cake’s scrumptiousness. Pro-tip here: a good coconut extract adds to the aroma and  flavor, which contest judges closely evaluate. Crushed pineapple in the batter gives the cake a tropical theme and adds extra moisture too.

As always, we test the recipes before sharing them with you all. Our test runs turned out terrific! We love the look and taste of toasted coconut. It gives the cake a mouth-watering look, especially for coconut lovers, which we absolutely are.

This is such a tasty cake. One mouthful and you’ll know why it’s a blue ribbon winning recipe.

Make this Tropical Coconut Cake recipe soon, and then stay tuned! We’ll be sharing the winning coconut cake from the 2021 Blue Ribbon Baking Contest at the Minnesota State Fair soon.

-Cyndi