Opening day brought the very first special cooking contest, the N.C. Peanut Growers Association Peanut Dessert Contest. As a fan of peanuts and desserts I was up for the challenge when the call came into the press office for a last minute judge.
Twenty-six desserts, with a half-cup or more of peanuts included in the ingredients, were entered into the competition. Our team of three judges tried 13 desserts and picked our top three. Another team of three judges tried the other 13 and picked their top three as well. Then we all judged the top six to pick the winners.
Judging was based on taste, flavor, creativity, family appeal and ease of preparation. Prizes included $200 for first place, $150 for second place, $100 for third place and $50 for honorable mention.
First place went to a moist and delicious peanut butter cake submitted by Lisa Page of Durham. With my first taste of this pound cake, I knew it was a prize winner. Second-place went to my personal favorite, the Elvis Presley Pie, submitted by James Dyczewski of Raleigh. With peanut butter, banana and topped with bacon, this pie was decadent, creative and tasted wonderful. Third place was the Homecoming Peanut Butter Torte submitted by Donna Barefoot of Benson.
Judging that many desserts was fun, and of course, delicious. As judges, we had to pace ourselves and cleanse our palettes with crackers and water between entries. This is hard if you’re facing something particularly tasty that you would like to eat a larger sample. And no matter how much you like peanuts, and dessert, you are ready for something a little different after tasting that many. Like an apple.
Recipes for this contest and the other speciality cooking contest will be on the State Fair website under specialty cooking contests.