A fried carrot cake roll drizzled with cream cheese frosting and dusted with powdered sugar won the annual Big Tex Choice Awards for best taste at the annual State Fair competition Sunday.
Christi Erpillo of north Dallas defeated seven other finalists with her Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly, which features golden-baked bread swirled with cinnamon, which is then flattened and filled with carrot cake, raisins and julienned carrots.
The outer layer is rolled in cream cheese, panko, graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon and nutmeg, and then fried, dusted, drizzled and served with a side of caramel and a caramel macchiato cream sauce.
“At least two of the judges said they didn’t like carrot cake,” State Fair spokeswoman Karissa Condoianis said. “I’m sure that put a lump in [Erpillo’s] throat, but she still won.”
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The tasting included a “celebrity panel” in front of a crowd of 300 on fairgrounds Sunday. Judges included Devin Harris of the Dallas Mavericks, former Dallas Cowboy Drew Pearson, Dallas chef John Tesar and others.
Donovan Lewis of Sportsradio 1310-The Ticket was emcee.
Erpillo’s family introduced funnel cake to the State Fair in 1980s and has served concessions there for 47 years, Condoianis said.
A Smoky Bacon Margarita brought home the “most creative” title this year. Isaac Rousso, also of north Dallas, infused a frozen lime margarita with a hint of smoke and fresh-cooked bacon, finished with bacon crumbles.
“Infusing the flavor of bacon into a Texas favorite had a lot of people on edge,” Condoianis said. “People who have a margarita have them a certain way — and it’s hard to wrap your head around this entirely.”
She said it passed the taste test, nevertheless.
“It has been neat to watch bacon elevate,” she said.
Rousso also submitted a Cowboy Corn Crunch made of sweet corn, jalapeño, cream cheese and bacon that also made the finals.
The other finalists:
▪ Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy, Abel Gonzales
▪ Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg Nest, Cassy Jones
▪ Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo, James Barrera
▪ Lone Star Pork Handle, Justin Martinez
▪ Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso, Allan Weiss