Local Girl Takes Second At Farm Show Brownie Contest
The smell of chocolate filled the air as the “Hershey’s Cocoa Classic Chocolate Cake and Baking Chips Cookie / Brownie / Bar” contests were held at the 96th Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg on Saturday, January 7. Crowds of onlookers and hopeful contestants packed the contest stage area to watch the outcome of these two state competitions sponsored by The Hershey Co., the PA State Association of County Fairs and the Department of Agriculture.
In order for contestants to be eligible for this final bake-off, they had to previously win first place at a fair that is a member PA State Association of County Fairs. 101 out of the 114 membership of local and county member fairs conducted preliminary Hershey’s Cocoa Classic competitions during their 2011 fair season. More than 1,700 entries baked with Hershey’s products were exhibited at these fairs. The fairs then certified their winners to move on to the state competition in Harrisburg.
This year’s Farm Show had 79 cookie-brownie-bar entries and 75 fairs’ chocolate cake entries. Each contest was judged by a five-member panel that included representatives from The Hershey Co. as well as a cookbook author, a culinary instructor and the emcee, who has been with the contest since its inception. Entries were judged on flavor, texture, inside characteristics and outside characteristics.
The competitions began with the baking chips contest, open to youth contestants ages 8-18. Contestants were required to submit an entry of six cookies, brownies or bars baked from scratch. The recipe had to include a minimum of ½ cup Hershey’s baking chips (any variety) in the batter recipe, as well as Hershey’s Cocoa if a chocolate icing or chocolate drizzle was included in that recipe. After two hours of judging and deliberating, the judges selected the follow 2012 winners:
First place – Michael Zaffuto, from Jefferson County, representing the Sykesville Ag & Youth Fair with his “Strawberry Shortcake Brownies”;
Second place – Dannah Robosson, 11, from Fulton County, representing the Fulton County Fair with her “Cherry-licious Brownies”;
Third Place – Matthew Brown, 17, from Lancaster County, representing the Elizabethtown Fair with his “Peanutty Puppy Chow Brownies”;
Fourth place – Jada Yanek, 12, from Northampton County, representing the Allentown Fair with her “Choco-Cherry Nut Bars”; and
Fifth place – Marlana Knab, 10, from Blair County, representing the Claysburg Farm Show with her “Chocolate Chip Brownies.”
The day ended with the much-anticipated Hershey’s Cocoa Classic Chocolate Cake contest. Contestants were required to submit a layer cake baked from scratch. The recipe had to include a minimum of a ¼ cup of Hershey’s Cocoa in the cake batter, as well as Hershey’s Cocoa if the icing was chocolate. A separate panel of judges went to work tasting the entries and then announced the following 2012 winners:
First – Jayne Wenger from Lancaster County, representing the Elizabethtown Fair with her “Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Strawberry Sensation Cake”;
Second – Hannah Harris from Berks County, representing Oley Valley Community Fair with her “Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake”;
Third – Belinda Myers from York County, representing the South Mountain Fair with her “Super Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake”;
Fourth – Maryanne Zeigler- Kern from York County, representing the Dillsburg Community Fair with her “Blackberry Hershey’s Chocolate Cake”; and
Fifth – Janel Flor from Chester County, representing the Kimberton Community Fair with her “Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake.”
The Hershey Co. awarded cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100 to the top-three cake winners, and $250, $100 and $50 to the top-three cookie / brownie / bar winners. Hershey also sweetened the deal by giving great prize packages to all the state contestants. The goodie bags included an apron, brownie spatula, measuring spoons, and Hershey cocoa and baking chips. Judges included Chris Fickes, who has participated in the contest for the past 24 years; Connie Shuff, former Farm Show cake winner and cookbook author; Theresa Huber, retired YTI Career Institute Culinary instructor; and John Berne, PA State Association of County Fairs director. The Hershey Co. judges included Koren Ivie and Jack Wilder, associate brand managers; Jessica Wood, associate marketing manager; and Linda Stahl, test kitchen manager. 2011 PA Fair Queen Claire Werkiser from Unionville Community Fair assisted the many Farm Show volunteers with the contest as well presented the ribbons to all the winners.
Anyone interested in participating in this year’s preliminary competitions for the 2012 Farm Show can go online to www.pafairs.org to find a participating PSACF member fair in their area.