We present the top three winning recipes in the Calling All Chocolates contest from the 2010 Illinois State Fair.
Snack-sized Mounds bars helped Jone Schumacher of Chapin take the top prize in the Illinois State Fair’s Calling All Chocolates contest.
Chunks of the coconut candy bar were imbedded inside her tropical-themed Candy Bar Chocolate-Coconut Cupcakes, adding both moistness and something of a surprise.
Second place in the annual contest, sponsored by The State Journal-Register, went to Jeremy Gorsage of Chatham for his Choco-holic Cake, while Dianna Wara of Washington took third with Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies.
There were 16 entries in the Aug. 17 contest, which called for a dish made with any form of chocolate. Recipes did not have to be original. Entries were judged on taste, appearance and creativity; winners received premiums of $125, $50 and $25.
Besides the Mounds bars, Schumacher’s winning recipe got a boost of flavor from the use of coconut milk and a tablespoon of bourbon in the batter. Each cupcake was decorated with a palm tree made of a flattened green gummy fruit slice fashioned into the treetop. The bark was melted chocolate chips painted onto the cupcake.
“This is a pretty easy recipe to make,” said Schumacher, a grandmother of seven and a registered nurse who works at the Morgan County Health Department.
“The cupcakes had a nice blend of flavors. The coconut milk takes the edge off the chocolate-chocolate flavor,” said judge Mary Alice McNaught of Auburn, a retired home economics teacher.
“I liked the candy bar in there. It was kind of clever,” said Rob Flesher, co-owner of Pease’s Candy in Springfield, the contest’s other judge.
Gorsage’s Choco-holic Cake, made in a Bundt pan, had a bit of sour cream, plus chocolate chips and walnuts in the batter. The Chatham police dispatcher, 23, has been entering culinary contests at the state fair for years.
“I like doing chocolate stuff,” he said, adding that his cake recipe is so easy it’s “idiot-proof.”
“The sour cream made it moist and the chocolate chips melted a bit, making them come through like a filling,” said McNaught.
Said Flesher: “The presentation was subtle but elegant.” The cake was topped with chocolate glaze and garnished with walnut halves.
Wara’s Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies were packaged in a red Cella’s chocolate-covered cherry box.
“I went to Walgreen’s that morning and saw the box. I thought, “That’s cute,” said the mother of two who works as a special-education aide at an elementary school.
“It’s a thumbprint cookie, essentially, with a cherry glaze in the middle,” she added.
“The filling was sort of a surprise,” said Flesher.
“The blend of flavors was a bit unusual,” said McNaught, “and the packaging was different. When we opened the box, we expected candy, not cookies.”
The winning recipes:
Candy Bar Chocolate-Coconut Cupcakes
From Jone Schumacher of Chapin
15 Mounds dark chocolate snack candy bars, .6 ounces each
1 dark-chocolate fudge cake mix
1 (3.9-ounce) box instant chocolate fudge pudding and pie filling
1 1/3 cups coconut milk (from 13.66-fluid-ounce can, such as Thai Kitchen, not “lite”)
1/3 cup canola oil
4 large or extra-large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
1 tablespoon bourbon
6 tablespoons soft butter
3 (1-ounce) packages pre-melted chocolate
1/3 to ½ cup coconut milk
¾ teaspoon vanilla
¾ teaspoon coconut flavoring
6 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk, if needed
Green gum drops or gummy fruit slices
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
For cupcakes: Cut each candy bar into 12 pieces. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, combine cake mix and dry pudding mix; blend until mixed.
In large measuring cup, combine coconut milk, canola oil, eggs, vanilla, coconut flavoring and bourbon. Gradually add liquid mixture to cake mix, blending on low speed of mixer until all of the mix is moistened. Blend on medium speed 2 minutes. Turn mixer to low speed for a few seconds.
Fill 30 cupcake pans lined with papers. Place half of a candy bar (6 pieces) in each cupcake; use a toothpick to press down into batter.
Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 15 to 17 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.
For frosting: Blend butter and chocolate in medium mixing bowl. Stir together coconut milk with the flavorings and blend into chocolate mixture. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth; add additional milk, if needed, to make spreading consistency. Spread with knife or pipe on with star tip and pastry bag. Sprinkle with edible glitter, if desired.
For optional garnish: Place green candy between two pieces of wax paper sprinkled with granulated sugar. Roll with rolling pin until candy is thin. Cut out palm trees with small cookie cutter.
Melt chips and use a small brush to paint chocolate into tree trunks. Sprinkle on chocolate sprinkles to give tree a bark look. Let rest until chocolate is set. Place on frosted cupcakes.
From Jeremy Gorsage of Chatham
1 package chocolate cake mix
1 (small) package instant chocolate pudding and pie filling mix
1 cup milk
½ cup sour cream
4 large eggs
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 (2-ounce) unsweetened chocolate baking bar, Nestle preferred
3 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12-inch Bundt pan or tube pan.
Combine cake mix, pudding mix, milk, sour cream and eggs in large mixer bowl. Beat on low speed just until blended. Beat on high speed 2 minutes. Stir in chips and nuts. Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean.
Cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely.
For glaze: Melt baking bar and butter in small, heavy-duty saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar alternately with water until it’s the desired consistency. Stir in vanilla. Pour glaze over cake.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
From Dianna Wara of Washington
1 stick butter, softened
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg, yolk and white separated
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped
4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 to 8 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon cherry flavoring
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
For cookies: In a medium bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the yolk, cocoa and flour; mix well.
Put egg white in small bowl. Put nuts in another bowl. Using a small cookie scoop or heaping tablespoon, shape dough into balls. Dip each ball into egg white, then into nuts. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 4 minutes in preheated 350-degree oven.
Take cookies out and make a thumbprint in each center. Put cookies back into oven and bake an additional 7 to 9 minutes. They will look golden brown when done. Take cookies out of the oven and let cool on wire rack.
For frosting: In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to make a thick paste consistency. Place half of frosting in small bowl and add cherry flavoring. Mix well and evenly divide among cookies. Spoon into center of cookies.
In another bowl, mix remaining half of frosting with cocoa powder and syrup. Mix well and place on top of the cherry filling. Let harden.
Makes about 3 dozen.
Kathryn Rem can be reached at 217-788-1520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.