Monday, August 6, 2012

A Fair To Remember ~ With 2 Winning Recipes!

Let's get straight to it, shall we?

This past week, my friend entered her chocolate chip cookies into the Thurston County Fair.  I didn't even know this contest existed, until her husband announced her as a Blue Ribbon Winner!  These cookies are so good, and they already have a reputation around our corner of Thurston County.  Everyone loves Laura's cookies.  Now it's official, though:  they are the best in the county!

Mmmm...can't you almost taste them??

Laura's Blue Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter, softened (BUTTER!)
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 TBSP vanilla
2 eggs
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until light and fluffy.  Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Dough will be stiff.  Stir in chocolate chips.  (I used 1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 dark chocolate chips.)

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. (Laura uses x-large cookie scoops to make big 'ole yummy cookies.)  If you make giant ones, only drop 6 per cookie sheet so they have them room they need and the heat can circulate around them and cook them evenly. 

Bake for 11-13 minutes, depending on cookie size, just until they are beginning to turn golden brown.

So after Laura's big win, I started poking around on the Fair's website to see what kinds of things you could enter.  Well, much to my delight I saw there was to be a cupcake contest the next day!  I decided to enter for fun.  I almost chickened out, because as I was baking them I realized that the whole idea of entering something like this is for people to judge you, and I'm so not a fan of being judged. Who wants to set themselves up to be judged and critiqued and analyzed.  Well, apparently a lot of people do because the fair is FULL of entries of all sorts of things.  (A side note here:  did you know that people bring their mommy cows with their new babies and strut them around a ring and people judge the cow on how she looks as a mom????  Can you imagine such a thing in the people world??  Walking around a ring with a newborn babe while people critiqued you on how you looked as a mother, how your body shape looked for birthing and how your...udder...was producing for your baby????  UGH! So thankful I was not born a cow.)

Anyway, with a few jitters and "what in the world am I doing this for???" I dropped my cupcakes off to be judged.

We then had the delight of watching the oh-so-handsome Brayden show his cow and a horse and a pig and a sheep and a goat in something called a Round Robin.  His "reward" for winning Best Showman (I think that's the title?) for showing his cow was to have to show all these other animals and be judged.  Bless his heart.  Actually, he's a stud and handled it fabulously.  I wish I had snapped a picture of that handsome dude doin' his thing.  I think he was the best.  And from the last 2 paragraphs you can probably tell I really am qualified to judge him.  But he still was the best.

So...I sat and watched the three judges judge all the cupcakes.  And in the end?  I took 2nd place!  Well, I'll be.  I lost out to Pumpkin Ginger.  Silly judges.

But, the cupcakes were a hit, I got a red ribbon and a gift certificate for pizza!  I think I might be hooked now.  Perhaps I'll enter a few more things next year.

Without further blabbering, I give you the Red Ribbon Award-Winning Cupcakes:

Leanne's Red Ribbon Chocolate Fudge Salted-Caramel Cupcakes

(adapted from Georgetown Cupcake recipe!)
1 1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. baking soda, sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
 1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup cocoa, sifted
(I used an expensive all-natural cocoa powder. I will try it with my trusty Hershey's Special Dark cocoa next time and see if there's a big difference. I suspect there is.)

Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners (will make 18).

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper, or even a plate.

In a stand mixer or with a hand-held mixer, beat softened butter until fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat until well-incorporated.

Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well.

Combine the milk and vanilla in a measuring cup.

With mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then gradually add 1/3 of the milk mixture.  Repeat until you've added all the flour and milk.

Add the cocoa powder and mix until blended well.

Using a standard-sized ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner to 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cupcakes test done with a toothpick or they spring back up in the center when lightly touched with your finger.

Allow to cool completely.  Using a small melon-baller or just the tip of a knife or spoon, remove a little ball of cupcake out of the very center.  Munch on the little removed pieces as you prepare the caramel.

Salted Caramel Frosting

1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt
2-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Melt butter in small saucepan.  Add brown sugar and cream.  Stir constantly over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Add salt.  Allow to slightly bubble (not boil!) for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

When cooled, set aside about 1/2 cup of the caramel to use as your filling and drizzle.

To the remaining caramel, beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time until it reaches the right consistency for frosting.

Place about 1 tsp. reserved caramel into each cupcake hole.  Frost  with frosting, then drizzle with remaining caramel.


  1. hahahaha! You are great and the best baker ever! 2nd place what the heck? I think it was rigged for Brayden got 2nd place in the Round Robin too. I'm so proud of both of you I could just scream!

    As a judge? I think you would look like a grand champion as a mother parading your darlings around the ring, no worries there my friend!

    Thanks for watching Brayden, we all appreciated it.

  2. I made the cookies and they were awesome. Thanks for sharing.