Saturday, August 15, 2015

2015 State Fair Update - Gold Medal Cookie Contest

Friday August 7th
Opening Day of the State Fair!

This is the Year of the Farmer. Usually on Opening Day the special food contest is a State Fair theme related contest but there was no theme contest this year. Instead, Gold Medal Flour sponsored a Cookie Contest. It was pretty much a wide open contest meaning not a lot of specifications - just make your best original recipe cookie using Gold Medal flour. Any kind of cookie. Didn't even specify how many cookies you had to bring.

I settled on making a German Chocolate Cookie. I made a chocolate cookie that contained ground pecans as well as some pecans and coconut and then topped it with a traditional German Chocolate filling. Initially I also piped melted chocolate over the top of the cookie but when I tasted it, the extra chocolate was just too much. Of course I had piped chocolate over ALL the cookies when I came to this decision. So, once again, I put myself in a time crunch and re-made the German Chocolate filling, scraped the filling that had melted chocolate on top, and re-frosted my cookies with just the filling.

I then checked the rules one last time and read the Judging Criteria:
40% - Taste and Flavor
20% - Texture
40% - Appearance and Presentation

40% for Appearance and Presentation!! So 40% of your score has nothing to do with what the cookie tastes like. Ack!! I had to figure out a creative way to plate my cookies and I had to leave the house in 30 minutes. Luckily I'm a craftaholic... I ended up cutting the Gold Medal emblem out of my bag of flour and mounted it on matching blue cardstock. I then taped that in the middle of a glass plate and brought along some coconut, chopped pecans, and chocolate chips to sprinkle on the plate.

This is the second year Gold Medal is sponsoring this contest at the Fair. I didn't enter it last year. When I got there, there was one contract judge doing the open judging. One of the other fair regulars told me, "This is the woman that judged last year. She just said everything was good." Sure enough, when the judging started, all she could say was that everything was good. Like every single item. Good multiple times. Over and over. Halfway through she did say that she would offer constructive criticism if there was some to be had but that so far she couldn't find anything wrong with anyone's cookies to critique. Great I thought. This contest is basically going to come down to what she likes best.

It's often been said that in any subjective contest, be it baking, dance, or art, often times it will come down to one judge's opinion on any given day. That was going to be the case today. As a side note, Ellison Bakery used to sponsor the original cookie contest. When they judged, there was a representative from Ellison, a professional pastry chef, as well as a contract judge that judged the entries. I always felt it is way more fair in some way if you had multiple judges who are also qualified to do the judging.

Anyway, time to announce the winners. They announce backwards from Honorable Mention to First Place... and my plate gets picked up first. I got Honorable Mention. I was just glad I placed!

Woohoo!! Happy to place on Opening Day. I couldn't rest on my laurels too long though. Cakes were due in the next morning. Off to bake some cakes.

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