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Houston Rodeo's Dutch Oven Desserts Competition Cooked 'Em Low and Slow

Sticky bread pudding desserts, like this one, were popular entries.
Sticky bread pudding desserts, like this one, were popular entries.
Photos by Molly Dunn

Some judge barbecue and some judge food and wine at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. But me? I judge Dutch oven desserts.

On Friday, February 28, the World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest hosted the fifth annual Dutch Oven Desserts Competition, and nearly 145 teams entered their sweet treats made entirely in a Dutch oven.

The competition was separated into two tasting rounds, each table of judges received eight different desserts in each round. As the desserts were passed around the table, each judge placed a scoop of the sugary creation onto a plate, sampled it and gave it a ranking of from one to ten (one being the worst and ten being the best).

It's like Thanksgiving desserts on steroids.

Judges passed desserts around the table and scored each entry mostly based on taste.
Judges passed desserts around the table and scored each entry mostly based on taste.

As the sweet-tooth judges took their seats, volunteers guiding the tastings offered small milk containers to each person -- what else goes better with desserts than a nice cold jug of milk?

Each team placed its desserts directly from the Dutch oven into a Styrofoam container to be delivered to the judges' tent. We were not told which teams made each dessert and we did not receive a description of what we were eating. We let the food do the talking.

I've enjoyed only cobblers from a Dutch oven, so my palate was curious to find out what we would be served. And man oh man, it got to taste some interesting creations.

No two desserts were exactly alike. Each had its own unique style. And some worked, while others unfortunately did not.

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Wrapping cobblers in foil maintained the proper temperature.
Wrapping cobblers in foil maintained the proper temperature.

Classics, such as berry cobbler and pineapple upside-down cake, succeeded in making my taste buds do a happy dance, while more "out-of-the-box" treats, such as chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter, Oreo cookies and cookie dough, and a cheesecake with layers of carrot cake, did not taste as good as they looked.

When teams wrapped their desserts in aluminum foil, the warmth from the Dutch oven remained in the Styrofoam container; each of these desserts tasted as if it had been served directly from the stove-top to the plate.

Who doesn't love pineapple upside-down cake?
Who doesn't love pineapple upside-down cake?

My personal favorites out of the offerings at my table were the warm, chocolate gooey cake and peach cobbler (served wrapped in aluminum foil). The chocolate cake satisfied all of my sugary cocoa cravings and warmed my heart and, more important, my stomach; the peaches in the cobbler were tender, juicy and sweet, and the syrup mixed with the warm crust was exactly what you want to eat surrounded by the smells of barbecue -- all it needed was a giant scoop of smooth Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.

2014 Dutch Oven Dessert Winners:

  • Champion: Triple A Cookers
  • First Runner-Up: Be Somebody
  • Second Runner-Up: Texas Night Owls 1
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miles
Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

1 Reliant Park
Houston, TX 77054

832-667-1000

www.hlsr.com


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