Ribbon-winning desserts for Thanksgiving

Cooks come from all over to to compete in the N.C. State Fair Special Cooking Contests held in the education building during the fair. Hundreds of cooks and some pretty creative recipes compete during the 11-days of contests for ribbons, bragging rights and a chance at a portion of the more than $4,000 in prize money. Since Thanksgiving is coming up this Thursday, we thought it’s the perfect time to share two ribbon-winning desserts from this year’s fair that feature some of North Carolina’s favorite fall produce. To get Best of Show pies at home, use fresh, locally grown ingredients.

Happy ThankNCSPLogosgiving from the N.C. State Fair. We hope you enjoy time with family, friends and good food.  Enjoy the recipes below.

North Carolina grows more sweet potatoes than any other state and sweet potatoes have a long standing tradition with holiday meals. This recipe won Susan Kraft of Milton, Ga. $175 and second place in the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission’s 52 Ways to Love Sweet Potatoes contest and it offers a twist to the traditional sweet potatoes pie recipe.

PieSweet Potato Pie with Bitter Chocolate and Sweet Chili

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 ¼ cups vanilla yogurt
  • ¾ cup packed, dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 egg yolks
  • Salt
  • 1 pie shell, homemade or frozen

Sweet Chili:

  • 2 hot peppers (jalapeno, Serrano, Thai, cayenne, etc.)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed in 2 tablespoons water

Chocolate drizzle:

  • 2 ounces bitter dark chocolate (85% dark chocolate), melted in double boiler


  1. Slow roast sweet potatoes by wrapping in aluminum foil and placing in a cool oven as it preheats to 300 degrees F, cooking for 2 hours until soft. These can be made beforehand and refrigerated. If you don’t mind a starchier pie, you can cube ½ inch pieces and steam in a steamer basket.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Mash potatoes until an even consistency.
  4. Mix sweet potatoes, yogurt, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, yolks and salt to taste, until combined.
  5. Pour into pie shell and place on a sheet pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes until the custard is 165-180 degrees.
  6. Let pie cool to room temperature.
  7. While the pie is cooking, in a small saucepan, combine the hot peppers, brown sugar, water, vinegar. and salt. Bring to a simmer for 3 minutes. Add cornstarch-water mixture and boil for 1 minute. Cool completely.
  8. Melt dark chocolate over a double boiler. Immediately drizzle liberally onto cold pie.
  9. Drizzle sweet chili sauce artistically over cold pie. Serve pie cold.

applelogoNorth Carolina ranks seventh in apple production nationally – with Henderson county growing the most. Look for N.C. grown apples at the grocery store, or pick up some at your local farmers market. This recipe placed first in the North Carolina Apple Growers Association Apple Recipe Contest. James Halley of Gasburg, Va. won $200 for his Fresh Apple Pecan Raisin Cake with Honey Bourbon Glaze.

applecakeFresh Apple Pecan Raisin Cake with Honey Bourbon Glaze

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups coconut oil
  • 4 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples (Granny Smith or another firm, tart variety)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon allspice

Mix ingredients until well combined. Spray Bundt pan with cooking spray. Spoon batter into the pan and tap on counter a couple of times to settle the batter and remove air pockets. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Take out of oven, let cool, turn upside down onto flat serving plate and remove pan. Drizzle with glaze.


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup bourbon

Melt butter in saucepan. Then add brown sugar, honey and vanilla. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon. Carefully light fumes above sauce using a long match or lighter. Let stand until flames disappear.


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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