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Winning Vandalia recipes revealed

By By Judy Grigoraci
For the Gazette

Editor’s note: Soon after Gazette food columnist Judy Grigoraci won two blue ribbons in the Vandalia Gathering food competition held over Memorial Day weekend, we began fielding requests for her winning recipes.

And she agreed!

Below, the secret steps for her Chocolate Covered Cherry Cupcakes.

But first, the award-winning Dolly Sods Cranberry-Apple Pound Cake.

The story behind this is that many people may already have this and don’t realize it.

Bob Schwartz, retired, was a feature reporter.

He was doing a story on either Dolly Sods (a place in West Virginia) or a cook from there, in the late 1990’s or early 2000.

He had this recipe from his subject. He asked me to bake the cake for him for the photo that accompanied his feature article.

I baked. He wrote.

The coconut streusel is my contribution/addition to the original.

It’s a topping from a yummy blackberry cobbler and calls for an egg, an ingredient I hadn’t seen in streusel.

I froze the very last packages of fresh cranberries at end of their season to have just in case.

Dolly Sods Cranberry Apple Pound Cake with Coconut Streusel

Makes 10 or more servings.


2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries

2 cups coarsely chopped Golden Delicious apples

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon brandy

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped black walnuts (no substitutes)


1 cup flour

1 cup coconut

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter

1 beaten egg

COMBINE cranberries, apples and sugar; set aside. Whisk eggs, oil and brandy; set aside.

SIFT dry ingredients and stir into cranberry mixture, alternating with egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in nuts. Spread in tube or bundt pan, sprayed with baking spray.

Combine streusel dry ingredients; cut in butter until evenly crumbly; stir in egg, mixing well. Sprinkle over batter.

START in cold oven. Place pan in oven; set temperature to 325 degrees and bake 1 hour to one hour 10 minutes or until cake tests clean when toothpick is inserted and streusel is crisp and light golden. Let stand 10 minutes, then invert onto serving plate.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cupcakes


2 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice mixed with enough milk to equal 2/3 cup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup finely diced maraschino cherries


1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup butter

1/2 cup half and half

21/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Chocolate covered cherry on stem – garnish

WHISK together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Cream butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy; stir in eggs; mix well.

ADD flour, alternating with milk and cherry juice mixture; add vanilla. Mix until well blended. Stir in cherries. Spoon into cupcake paper-lined cupcake pan. Bake at 325 degrees about 12 to 15 minutes or baked through and springs back when gently touched in center. Cool completely.

COMBINE chips, butter, and half and half in saucepan or microwave bowl; heat until chocolate and butter melt; remove from heat. Whisk in sugar.

PLACE frosting bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice; beat until frosting holds its shape, is lighter in color and fluffy. Pipe decoratively onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with chocolate cherry.

NOTE on garnish: Baker’s chocolate has a new microwave-safe container of true chocolate wafers for melting. It’s found on the shelf with chocolate chips. I used it to coat stemmed maraschino cherries. Melt a little of the chocolate, just whatever you feel you need to coat the number of cherries per cupcake; dip and coat stemmed cherry, placing on wax paper lined sheet pan. Place in freezer to set. Refrigerate until garnish time.

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