Deep fried cookie dough named best of State Fair

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DALLAS (AP) -- Oh sure, it sounds like making fried cookie dough would be a cinch, but Abel Gonzales says there's more to it than meets the fryer.

For one thing, Gonzales says, the dough has to be made from scratch.

"Store-bought dough is too sweet," he explains. "Then we had to decide what are we going to top it with? It's a lot of work."

On Monday, the effort paid off as Gonzales' cookie dough concoction was named the best-tasting fried food for the upcoming State Fair of Texas.

It was the third year in a row Gonzales has been honored. Last year, his fried Coke earned him an appearance on national television and was mimicked by fry cooks at other state fairs.

Food is a big part of the state fair that starts later this month, and fried food is especially popular. It can be prepared fast, and many fairgoers aren't counting calories.

"They're on vacation, away from their normal diets," said Ron Black, the fair's senior vice president for food service. "They want to eat their way through the state fair."

Fried food has been synonymous with the State Fair of Texas since the 1940s and the introduction of the corny dog -- a hot dog dipped in batter and deep fried.

To encourage variety, fair officials three years ago started a contest among concessionaires to see who could whip up the tastiest and the most creative fried fare. There's no cash prize for winners of the Big Tex Choice Awards, but they get free publicity before the fair starts Sept. 28.

This year's seven finalists ranged from appetizers, such as fried guacamole bites, to main courses of fried burritos to deserts like deep fried banana pudding.

Jake and Michael Levy drew inspiration from their mother's love of coffee to create deep-fried lattes.

"We loved the smell of the coffee and started thinking, how can we get that in a fried food?" Jake Levy said. "A few hundred of these later, we came up with a finished product. We put on about 10 pounds between us getting it right."

The Levys started with a puff pastry, added cappuccino ice cream, whipped cream and decaffeinated coffee. The result was a Big Tex award for the most creative dish. They accepted their trophy while dressed in Pancho Villa outfits, with matching bandoliers, pistols and sombreros.

The contest is open only to current concessionaires -- it's not the Pillsbury Bake-Off. The Levys operate a Dallas restaurant, but some of the concessionaires only dabble in the food business for the three-week run of the state fair.

Gonzales, the cookie dough confectioner, is a computer analyst. He said that occasionally he thinks about chucking the computer and following his father's footsteps into the restaurant business.

"But I kind of like coming in here for the three weeks of the fair and getting out instead of running a restaurant 24/7," he said.

(© 2007 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. )

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