Blue Ribbon desserts for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but there is still time to add a blue-ribbon-winning dessert to the table. “We had hundreds of entries in this year’s cooking contests at the State Fair, and the three listed here all placed first in their competitions,” said Lisa Prince, State Fair cooking contest coordinator. “If you are going to try one of these desserts for a holiday get-together this year, I recommend using fresh ingredients and follow the directions carefully.” More winning recipes can be found on the State Fair’s website under cooking competitions.

Peanut Butter Cake

Lisa Page of Durham won $200 and first place in the N.C. Peanut Growers Peanut Dessert Contest.

¾ cup butter
½ cup creamy peanut butter
4 eggs
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup water


Let butter, peanut butter, eggs and buttermilk warm to room temperature for easy mixing. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan or a 10-inch tube pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine room-temperature ingredients with remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Beat at a slow speed with electric mixer for 30 seconds, then at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping side of bowl. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, then lower heat to 325 degrees and bake for 20 minutes longer, or until top springs back when lightly pressed with fingertip. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out, cool completely before frosting.


¼ cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup 10x confectioners sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons buttermilk

Combine in small bowl until smooth. Spoon over cake.
12-16 servings.

Maya Thompson, 8, of Raleigh won $75 and first place in the youth category for the King Arthur Flour Baking Contest

Maya’s Maraschino Cherry-Walnut Bars


2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup King Arthur unbleached flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 (10 ounce) jar Maraschino cherries, drained, chopped, reserving liquid
½ cup chopped walnuts


2 cups King Arthur unbleached flour
1/3 cup sugar
¾ cup margarine or butter, softened


2 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons reserved cherry liquid

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients; use blender at low speed or use pastry cutter to blend until crumbly. Press mixture firmly in bottom of ungreased 13×9-inch pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

In large bowl, combine all filling ingredients; mix well. Spread evenly over partially baked crust. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

In small bowl, combine margarine, powdered sugar and cherry liquid, adding enough cherry liquid until frosting is of desired consistency; beat until smooth.
Spread over cooled bars. Cut into rectangles or squares.

Samantha Nadeau of Clayton won $200 in the North Carolina Apple Association's Apple Recipe Contest.

Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes   


4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (12 tablespoons) butter
2½ cups sugar
4 eggs
1½ cups apple sauce
2 cups sour cream

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add apple sauce, butter and sour cream; beat until blended. Stir into flour mixture. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour into cupcake pan and bake for 18–20 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool, then use the cone method to remove center of cupcake to allow for filling.

Apple Pie Filling:

2 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
4 cups of honey crisp apples
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
½ tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add apples, sugars, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook until apples are tender and release their juices, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water. Add to apples and stir, cooking until thickened. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Once cooled, spoon filling into the cooled cupcakes.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Icing:

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
2 tablespoons caramel sauce
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons water (for thinning)

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and shortening. Add powdered sugar and the caramel sauce alternately. Add salt. Add water slowly for thinning. Pipe icing onto cooled and filled cupcakes.



About Funhouse

On the blog I go by Fun House (AKA Heather Overton). At the Fair you'll find me checking out the blue ribbon winners or hanging out in Heritage Circle. It would be hard for me to pick a favorite part of the Fair, but I can tell you one thing I hate - leaving it on the last day. I can't wait for opening day!

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