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Early morning hours spent harvesting cherries paid off for two Utah students who won prizes in the Cherry Challenge, a national contest sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute.

Karen Chappell, 15, of Lyman, Wayne County, took top honors in the senior division with a recipe for Cherry Squares, a rich yeast dough filled with cherries.Chappell, a student at Wayne County High School, collected a $500 prize for her entry, while Jennifer Christensen, 10, Roy, banked $100 for a third-place finish in the junior division with Sour Cherry Cookies.

The pair both credit their experiences with 4-H as a training ground for the competition.

"I've been in 4-H since I was 10," says Chappell. "I've made things for the fair, but I've never entered a real contest."

Chappell received contest entry information from her county agent, Carol Williams.

"Carol knew I'd be interested and thought I might take the contest seriously," Chappell says. "My mom had a recipe for peach squares that's kind of like my entry; I just changed it to cherries."

The Wayne High School student's reaction to winning the top prize was amazement.

"I couldn't believe it. Out of all the entries in the country, I took first place; I thought the lady (Jane Baker of the Cherry Marketing Institute) must have dialed the wrong number," Chappell exclaims.

Despite all the hoopla and the neighborly requests for Cherry Square samples, Chappell demonstrates a practical approach to the prize money.

"I've put it in the bank to save for college," she says. "I really want to use these home economics skills to teach other people skills I've already been able to share as a class leader in 4-H last year."

Christensen has her own link to 4-H experience but a closer tie to a cherry orchard.

"My Grandpa Christensen had a cherry orchard up in Brigham City, and my great grandpa had a fruit farm in Perry, but I've never picked cherries. My dad told me how messy it was and that you had to get up at 5 a.m.," Christensen says.

Christensen also expressed surprise at her victory.

"I sent in two recipes and I really thought the other one was better than the cookie recipe," she admits.

A cherry orchard connection and a tie-in to 4-H activities paid off for two Utah youngsters.



Sour Cherry Cookies

2 cans (16 oz.) cherries

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter or margarine

3 eggs, beaten

4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon maple or vanilla flavoring

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 package (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips, optional

Drain cherries, reserving 3 tablespoons of liquid.

Cream sugar with butter until fluffy; add eggs and beat well. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with the reserved cherry liquid. Stir in flavoring and nuts. Fold in drained cherries; do not overmix.

Bake on greased cookie sheets at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

- From Jennifer Christensen

Cherry Squares


2/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk, beaten

4 cups frozen cherries, thawed, or 2 cans (16 oz.) tart cherries, drained


1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 cup butter or margarine, melted

4 cups flour

4 egg yolks, beaten


1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

For the filling, combine 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add 1 egg yolk and thawed cherries. Mix to combine all ingredients. Cover over low heat until thick. Set aside to cool.

For the dough, dissolve yeast in warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Combine milk and butter. Heat to melt butter but do not boil. Cool slightly.

Combine milk mixture, 2 cups flour and dissolved yeast. Beat on high 2 minutes or until batter is smooth. Add egg yolks and remaining 2 cups flour. Mix to combine all ingredients. Dough will be soft. Remove dough from bowl and divide into two portions.

On a floured surface, roll out one piece of dough until it is large enough to cover the bottom of an ungreased 10-by-15-inch baking pan. Spread cherry filling over dough. Roll remaining piece of dough large enough to cover the filling. Seal edges together. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Make steam holes in top of dough with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

For frosting, combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Stir in powdered sugar; blend until smooth. Spread over cooled Cherry Squares. Cut; garnish with maraschino cherries if desired. Makes 24 squares.

- From Karen Chappell

Cherry Dumpling Soup

1 can (16 oz.) tart cherries or 2 cups unsweetened frozen tart cherries

3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 cups water

1 stick cinnamon

Dash of ground nutmeg

2/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon shortening

1/2 cup milk

Drain canned cherries, saving liquid. Measure liquid from cherries and add enough water to make 4 cups; pour liquid mixture into a large saucepan. Add sugar, cherries, cinnamon and nutmeg. (If using frozen cherries, partially thaw them, then combine cherries, 4 cups water, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in saucepan.) Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat.

Meanwhile, combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Cut in shortening. Add milk; mix to combine ingredients. Drop small teaspoonfuls onto boiling cherry mixture. When all of the batter is used, stir mixture gently. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 10-12 minutes. Serve hot or cold for breakfast or as a dessert. Makes 6 servings.

- From Sarah Bork, Juneau, Wis.