By Debra Davis
Sara Buck’s scrumptious Pumpkin Fudge brought a delicious hint of fall flavor packed with enough sugary goodness to win first place in the Heritage Cooking Contest Sept. 9 in Montgomery.
Buck was among 25 contestants from around the state who, after winning their county contest, competed at the state event sponsored by Alabama Farmers Federation Women’s Leadership Division. Candy was the theme for this year’s event.
April Lewis of Limestone County won second place in the contest with her Fruit Nut Creamy Fudge, while Elaine Bozeman of Crenshaw County placed third with her Lemon Fudge. First-, second- and third-place winners received $150, $100 and $50, respectively.
“I was shocked when they called my name as the winner,” said Buck, a Sumter County native who lives in Emelle with husband Pat. “I am so humbled; I can’t believe it. I’ve made this recipe for my family for years, and they love it. It only has a half cup of pumpkin in it, but it’s just enough to give it a hint of pumpkin flavor. I got the recipe out of a Progressive Farmer magazine years ago.”
Buck said her recipe is simple and can be made with or without pecans. She likes both versions.
Federation Women’s Leadership Division Director Kim Earwood said judges struggled to select the top three entries.
“There were so many delicious dishes to choose from, I understand why they had a hard time,” Earwood said. “Making homemade candy can be tricky, sometimes requiring precise temperatures to be maintained for a specific period of time.”
Contest entries were sampled by Women’s Leadership Division members who attended the annual event.
Thomas Ellis, Alabama’s Farm of Distinction winner and owner of Priester’s Pecans, was the guest speaker. He discussed his legacy and love of farming, as well as the history of the family’s famous pecan business.
First Place – Pumpkin Fudge by Sara Buck, Sumter County
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
12 ounces white chocolate morsels
7 ounces marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine first six ingredients in a 3.5-quart saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture boils. Reduce heat to a low boil and cook 12 minutes before removing from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour mixture in a 9-inch-by-9-inch pan lined with foil. Let stand 2 hours until completely cooled. Remove foil from pan. Cut fudge into pieces to serve.
Second Place – Fruit Nut Creamy Fudge by April Lewis, Limestone County
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups white chocolate chips
7 ounces marshmallow creme
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (3.7-ounce) bags of Salad Pizazz! Strawberry, Cranberry and Honey Nut Mix
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in sugar and sour cream. Bring to a soft boil. Cook until the mixture reaches 235 F using a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Stir in white chocolate chips and blend until melted. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Pour into 8-inch-by-8-inch buttered pan to harden.
Third Place – Lemon Cookie Fudge by Elaine Bozeman, Crenshaw County
1 (16-ounce) container cream cheese frosting
1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Zest of one lemon
20 Lemon Oreo cookies, chopped, plus more cookie crumbs for topping
Line an 8-inch-square pan with foil, extending over the sides of the pan; lightly spray with oil. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine frosting, chocolate chips and butter. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir, then continue heating in 30-second intervals until melted and smooth. Stir in lemon extract and zest; fold in chopped cookies. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with cookie crumbs. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes or 10-15 minutes in the fridge. Remove from pan using foil. Cut in 36 squares.
Entries in the state Heritage Cooking Contest will be available online at AlfaFarmers.org.