Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Dee Bryson
Gazette Columnist 

My Favorite Recipes: Palouse Empire Fair Melt in Your Mouth Chocolate Contest 2018


September 13, 2018

This year's winner of the Melt In Your Mouth Chocolate Contest was a short layer cake that stood tall among the competition, Mama's Chocolate Pepsi Cake, from the kitchen of Crystal Davidson, St. John.

One of the perks of writing for the Gazette is getting to participate in judging the "Melt in Your Mouth Chocolate Competition" at the Palouse Empire Fair. At first glance, it is a job that everyone is up for. One might even say it is envied. However, there is more to it than simply gorging oneself on the local delicacies. After a thorough analysis of the fine fare, it is scrutinized by a panel of self-proclaimed chocolate lovers. Sometimes there may be a chocolate skeptic included just to mix things up. The entries are judged on their presentation, consistency, texture, chocolate flavor and blending of flavors, as well as creativity and general taste. It is certain that by the conclusion, there is a lot of licking of fingers and rinsing of palates, mixed in with a little bit of belly aching due to some over indulgence, but an appreciation for both the job of judging as well as an admiration for the cuisine. In fact, it might be noted that the chocolate skeptic even increased their appreciation for the chocolate regale.

This year, there was no lack of pleasure. Included in our contestants' entries were pies, cakes, cookies, fudge, brownies and many more delightful morsels. It was certainly not an easy task for the judges to decide. Each entry was kept anonymous in order to eliminate a judge being persuaded.

While there were many delectable choices, there were a few that stood out amongst the rest. The mere aroma alone of the entry labeled "Momma's Pepsi Cake" was certainly notable. The flavor blended well and included a few surprising ingredients such as marshmallows and buttermilk mixed in with Pepsi. The flavor was simply heavenly. Another noteworthy entry that took the judges by surprise was the dessert that included an ingredient with a local flair. The Chocolate Lentil Cake was decidedly delicious with a gentle, chocolate flavor and a pleasing texture. Of course, the competition wouldn't be complete without sampling a huckleberry fudge that lightly exploded in your mouth. Judging this competition may not be a task that everyone can appreciate, but it was certainly appreciated by everyone that participated!


Mama's Chocolate Pepsi Cake

2 cups cake flour

2 cups sugar

2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups salted butter

1-1/2 cups mini marshmallows

1-1/2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate

8 ounces Pepsi

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sift flour, baking soda and cocoa powder into the sugar in a large bowl and blend. Melt butter, marshmallows and baking chocolate in a small sauce pan while continuously stirring. Add the Pepsi into the saucepan slowly while the items melt. Pour the melted items over the flour mixture and mix well on low speed. Be gentle with the batter. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Continue to slowly mix until well-blended. Pour into two greased 8-inch round pans. Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes or until done. Cool cakes and frost.


1/4 cup salted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

3 cups powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1/3 cup half-and-half

1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese together, add the melted chocolate and vanilla, and blend powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a separate bowl. Alternately add in the powdered sugar/cocoa and half-and-half into the creamed mixture until they are fully incorporated. The frosting consistency is soft and should spread easily. Frost cake and refrigerate while you make the ganache.


6 ounces semi sweet chocolate pieces

4 ounces half-and-half

Heat half and half over medium-low heat while stirring. Just before it boils, pour it over the frosting and blend until smooth. Pour over the frosted cake until it drips down the sides, refrigerate.


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