Home cooks go crazy for the Peanut Festival recipe contest

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Natalie Brosseau and her mother Tisha react to the fact that Natalie won the Student Grand Prize in the National Peanut Festival Recipe Contest at the Fairgrounds Arena in Dothan, Alabama on October 28, 2021. Natalie's father, Brian Brosseau, is on the left.  (Jay Hare / Dothan Eagle via AP)

Natalie Brosseau and her mother Tisha react to the fact that Natalie won the student grand prize in the National Peanut Festival Recipe Contest at the Fairgrounds Arena in Dothan, Alabama on October 28, 2021. Natalie’s father, Brian Brosseau, is on the left. (Jay Hare / Dothan Eagle via AP)

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Jessica VanAnda had never tried the National Peanut Festival Recipe Contest.

But she decided to give it a try this year and entered all categories other than cakes in the adult division. It paid off. VanAnda from Fountain, Fla., Walked away with multiple ribbons and won the grand prize in the adult division for her Southern Butter and Nut Cupcakes.

“This is the first time I’ve done something like this,” VanAnda said. “I’m really one of those kinds of people – I’m all or nothing. I would have made the cakes, but I ran out of time. It was 2 a.m. and I was ready to go to bed.

The 2021 National Peanut Festival Recipe Contest was held on October 28 at the National Peanut Festival Exhibition Center, as was the Cake Decorating Contest.

While VanAnda took home the grand prize in the adult division, the student grand prize went to Enterprise’s Natalie Brosseau for her entry on candy, Nana’s Peanut Butter Bonbons.

The recipes VanAnda used for her cupcakes and gooey muffins were from her grandmother, but she added them for the contest. She started practicing her recipes about two weeks ago with her husband and colleagues serving as taste testers for cupcakes, muffins, cookies, candies and pies.

“It was a lot of fun; I really enjoyed it,” VanAnda said. “I’ve heard of it before, but never did.”

With the National Peanut Festival – and all activities surrounding it – canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, volunteers weren’t sure what to expect for this year’s recipe competition. As the entrees slowly rolled in in the morning, things improved the moment judgment began.

Brockton’s new siblings Ava, Lyla, and Landon Miller – 12, 10, and 7 respectively – entered recipes they thought tasted good. Ava made peanut butter fudge and chocolate peanut butter pie; Lyla made Peanut Butter Cheesecake and Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeyes; and Landon Baked Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies.

Pam Bland from Haleburg entered the adult division with a peanut butter and jelly cake, surprise peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes, cornflake crunches and a peanut pie. Bland was going to make peanut butter bread but ran out of time.

Bland first entered the recipe competition in 2019 and won a first ribbon for their Nutter Butter peanut butter cake. Disappointed that the 2020 competition was canceled, Bland said she was ready for this year. She is even making plans for the 2022 competition.

“I was super excited,” said Bland. “I practiced different recipes, tasted them and just tried to put it all together so I could make stuff. I’m just excited. To win or not, I had a great time. I love to cook. I love to do this. I love the peanut festival; we are looking forward to coming this year.


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