State Fair Blue-Ribbon Recipes
This collection of all-star recipes shared by some of the legends of Midwest state fair cook-offs features treats such as Blue-Ribbon Ranger Cookies, Whoopie Pie Cake, True Butterscotch Pie and Cloverleaf Rolls.
Whoopie Pie Cake
Karen Cope of Minneapolis won a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair for this stunning chocolate-and-marshmallow cake, based on whoopie pie cookies.
Jacob Van Patten pours a refreshing summer cocktail into his creative take on lemon bars, which took the overall blue ribbon at the Iowa State Fair.
Teresa Reese's blue-ribbon fever is contagious. Her husband and kids joined Nebraska fair competitions after watching her win. The Osceola baker's top cake is a three-layer wonder that stays extra moist thanks to butter and buttermilk.
Blue-Ribbon Ranger Cookies
Ranger cookies are made with rolled oats and cereal. Judy Kiburz Harrison won best-in-class at the Iowa State Fair for her version, which adds Beer Nuts for a peanutty twist.
Nanking Cherry Jelly
Beverly Anhorn says she gets the most flavor from tart Nanking cherries by simmering—not boiling—them for juice. "It's one of the few cherry trees we can grow here," says Bev who lives near Max, North Dakota.
Coconut Chocolate Squares
Orange marmalade is a nice surprise in these rich (and ribbon-winning) bars created by Iowa State Fair entrant Marianne Carlson.
Cheryl Christiansen of McPherson, Kansas, won best in quick breads with this scone. She bakes multiple possible entries, then chooses what to take at the last minute. "At fair time my family knows to ask if they can have a sample," she adds.
Lemon Sugar Cookies
The light lemon flavor gives these sparkling sugar cookies a little special twist. Judy Kiburz Harrison's recipe won best-in-class at the Iowa State Fair.
"I'm convinced my husband married me for access to these rolls," says Kenda Friend of her mother's buttery, tender recipe. "Mom is truly the queen of yeast rolls," says this Indianapolis winner known for entering family recipes in competitions.
True Butterscotch Pie
Louise Piper hauled her entries more than 100 miles from her kitchen in Garner, Iowa, to the state fair. "Butterscotch pie is my favorite, and this is a lovely true butterscotch," she says. The trick to the filling in this winner? Stirring and stirring while it cooks. A flaky crust and whipped cream sandwich it.
"The fair gives me a chance to learn new things when I visit with other contestants," says Denise Turnbull of Monmouth, Illinois. The fair veteran says, "I go home with new techniques and lots of recipes." Her rich rolls with easy-to-handle dough won Best Bread of Show twice. No wonder her family prefers bread to dessert.
Harvest Apple Bars
Tammy Post's Iowa State Fair blue-ribbon recipe doesn't skimp on apples, which results in incredibly moist and indulgent bars.
Give Sheila Bethia of West Allis, Wisconsin, a category, and she develops a blue-ribbon recipe for it. These tiny tarts mix cranberries and orange peel into her best pecan tassie recipe. Butter and cream cheese make the crust rich.
Scandinavian Almond Bars
Perennial Iowa State Fair ribbon-winner Robin Tarbell-Thomas' buttery best-in-class bars are loaded with almond flavor.
Mixed Dried Fruit Pie
Faye Hunton of Sedalia, Missouri, was hooked on competition for life after winning top honors for a black walnut cake at the 1987 fair. Hunton has earned a blue for her double-crust pie with big flavor from plumped apples, apricots and cherries.
Kim Van Patten says these Swedish spice cookies are popular at Christmas. Heart shapes are traditional to encourage kindness and sweetness. It certainly is nice that her Iowa State Fair blue-ribbon winners are mixed up in one saucepan!
Catherine Blackwood of Columbus, Ohio, says her motto is: "Figure out how to do something, not why you can't." Try her spice cookie: It's crunchy on the outside, chewy inside.
Corn and Summer Squash Soup with Basil Oil Drizzle
Sally Sibthorpe of Michigan says persistence is the key to winning. "Don't give up and follow food trends. The winning recipes are usually either timeless or timely." Sally's winning soup was inspired by the contrast between the mildly sweet squash and the distinctive taste of basil.
As a child, Susi Odden entered 4-H Club contests, but she reentered the South Dakota State Fair Food scene with her winning Hobo Delight. Susi, who lives in Ree Heights, decided to enter the Beef Cook-Off category because her family raises cattle. "Look for something that is eye-appealing—that looks good on the plate— as well as tastes good," she advises.