The Best Blue Ribbon Winning State Fair Recipes

Fleischmann's YeastFleischmann's YeastBright lights, fried food, and the faint sound of trumpets carrying a chipper tune are what we fondly remember of the local state fairs of our childhood. But with all the crowds, games, and prizes, has anyone ever thought of where these traditions come from?

Related: Spaghetti-and-Meatballs Ice Cream Wins Indiana State Fair

State fairs were born because of farming and agriculture; they were the result of farmers looking to improve agricultural society by gathering together and discussing tips for farming, demonstrating livestock, and coming up with plans for bountiful harvests. Slowly, these exhibitions became competitions between the farmers, and the meetings grew far more social. Eventually, a tradition was born, and state fairs across the country began.

Competitions ranging from the largest-grown pumpkin to the best-arranged flowers have been gracing fairs for decades, and now cooking has become a popular addition. Showcasing everything from the best apple pies to SPAM donuts, home cooks all around the country enter to compete at their local state fairs, and it's all for an extremely high honor - a blue ribbon.

So, to find a recipe good enough to "wow" an entire state, we ventured across America with the help of The Blue Ribbon Group to bring you some of the best and tastiest fair fare in the country. From California to North Carolina, these blue ribbon recipes have wowed their local state fairs, so let them wow you, too.

German Chocolate Ring Recipe

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 1/4 cups flaked coconut, divided
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3 eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yeast, preferably Fleischmann's Rapid Rise Yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons butter, divided


Mix 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips and 1 cup of the coconut with the pecans and 1 egg in a medium bowl and set the mixture aside. Next, combine 2 cups of the flour, undissolved yeast, sugar, and salt in a large mixer bowl. Heat the milk and 4 tablespoons of the butter until very warm, or about 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and add this to the flour mixture. Beat until smooth, then add the 2 remaining eggs and beat for 2 minutes.

Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn the contents of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, or about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Next, roll the dough into an 18-by-10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and brush it over the dough. Spread the dough with the reserved chocolate-coconut mixture. Then, roll up the dough jellyroll style, staring from the long side and pinching the seams to seal.

Place the dough seam side down on a greased baking sheet and form a ring by pinching the ends together. Using sharp scissors, cut from the outside edge to 2/3 of the way toward the center ring at 1-inch intervals. Separate the strips slightly to allow the filling to show. Cover the cake and let it rise until doubled in bulk, or about 50 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the ring cake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle the cake with the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and let it stand for 5 minutes. Spread the melted chips and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of coconut. Carefully remove the ring cake from the pan to a wire rack and let it cool before serving.

Recipe Details

This recipe is courtesy of New Jersey State Fair, Fleischmann's Yeast Baking Contest, 2011

Servings: 10
Total time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Cuisine: Baked Goods

Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate Splash Cake Recipe

Like many state fairs, the Minnesota State Fair extravaganza has deep roots in agricultural prosperity, promotion, and education. However, there are not many state fairs with the bragging rights that Minnesota has. At the fair, experience everything from typical carnival rides to the miracle of life in the CHS Miracle of Birth Center, which brings 200 calves, lambs, and piglets into the world during the fair's 12-day run. It isn't every day that you have a choice of 450 menu items from 300 different vendors, with more than 60 of them offering finds like deep-fried candy bars on sticks.

Lisa Silmser's cake is another original hailing from the Minnesota State Fair. After her batter "splashed" a mess in the kitchen, she decided wild chocolate decorations should commemorate the "disaster" with a Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate Splash Cake. This decadent dish proudly features with three types of chocolate, which she makes so eye-catching with her decorating skills using a bull's-eye of milk and white chocolate and spreading it out with a knife.

Click here to see the recipe.

Salted-Caramel-Peanut Butter Pie Recipe

While Arkansas is known for its Little Rock, there certainly is nothing small about the annual state fair. Competitors flock to flaunt their skills in everything from flower arrangements to needle work. But what blows everyone away are the amazing dishes that come out of the fair, and this blue-ribbon-winning recipe is no exception.

Christie Burns' Salted Caramel-Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie stole the show at the Arkansas State Fair's Pillsbury Pie Crust Pie Baking Championship. This dessert artfully blends the sweet, creamy taste of peanut butter with the savory flavor of salted caramel, and it melts in your mouth. Plus, it's easy to make!

Click here to see the recipe.

State Fair Apple Lollipops Recipe

If perseverance is key, then the Vermont State Fair has a long, happy rode ahead of it. The fair has survived wars, famine, and job loss and still reigns as one of the top attractions in the Northeast 168 years later.

This winning recipe is a tradition in the making: Rhonda Tebeau won a Canola Oil "Fry It for the Fair" Contest in Vermont (Champlain Valley Fair) with her State Fair Apple Lollipops. Not your average sucker, these pops are pancake batter-based and up for alteration as you add or subtract your favorite filling ingredients.

Click here to see the recipe.

Super Sour Novas Recipe

North Carolina farmers battled over-cultivation and ill-bred animals before the Civil War, and many felt it was a time for a radical change. Most farmers at that time were illiterate, so the few agricultural journals that existed made little impact. Journal editor Dr. John F. Tompkins had the biggest influence on North Carolina agriculture not with words, but with actions. He orchestrated a meeting in Raleigh to discuss better farming methods and re-established the North Carolina State Agricultural Society. The annual meeting slowly grew into a social event where farmers constructed buildings for exhibits and a racetrack. Today, we know this pivotal event as the North Carolina State Fair, where Raleigh residents (plus a few thousand more) celebrate agriculture through flea markets, crafts and, of course, food.

Margalit Mermelstein knows the meaning of true tradition: She has been competing at the North Carolina State Fair since she was 5 years old. Her Super Sour Super Nova, a star-shaped sugar cookie drizzled with sour icing, dipped in Pop Rocks candies, and served on a stick won her a blue ribbon for the Karo Syrup Cookie Contest. You'll be happy to pucker up for these cookie pops.

Click here to see the recipe.

-Lauren Gordon, The Daily Meal

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