Deep Fried I-35, brisket brittle among 2021's Big Tex Choice Awards finalists

The return of the State Fair of Texas this year also means visitors will get to try some unique fried foods. It’s all part of the fun of the Big Tex Choice Awards.

The fair announced the 10 finalists for 2021 on Wednesday.

On the savory side, there’s Crispy Crazy Corn, Deep Fried I-35, Deep Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls, Lucky Duck Dumplings and Pork Shots.

The finalists for the sweet category are the Armadillo, Brisket Brittle, Deep Fried Halloween, Coffee Crunch Cake and Texas Pumpkin Poke Cake.

The creator of Deep Fried Halloween explained what’s in it.

"We’ve taken a delicious chewy pretzel, deep fried it for just a second and then we’re going to be topping it with all your favorite Halloween candies. We’ve got candy corn, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, Twix and, of course, Oreo cookie with all kinds of caramel sauce. We have candy corn sauce and chocolate sauce on top. It’s a lot of everything," said Isaac Rousso.

Here's how the State Fair of Texas described each of the finalists:


Sweet whole kernel corn is individually battered, fried, and dashed with our secret seasoning. These crispy little gold nuggets alone make a great snack, but the heat turns up a notch when we add slowed-smoked pulled pork, topped with a tangy pineapple slaw, kissed with a drizzle of freshly made jalapeño crema and a generous sprinkle of fresh cilantro. It’s a crunchy, sweet, savory, tangy flavor party that’s crazy good. 


The Deep Fried I-35 combines various sweet and savory ingredients into decadent tribute to the Texas road trip! First, we fry up our kolache dough, leaving a divot in the center for our filling. We top our fried kolache with smoked beef brisket. Our peach juice combines with the Dr Pepper® to make a sweet and tangy BBQ glaze which we drizzle over our brisket kolache. We garnish this roadworthy concoction with peach slices and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Voila, y’all!


Using a family recipe that has been handed down four generations, the base is a dark, rich, and savory roux that represents the true essence of New Orleans. The balls are then loaded with Gulf Coast shrimp, stewed chicken, blue crab meat, and andouille sausage. The balls are then rolled in our saltine cracker and breadcrumb batter, then fried, creating an explosion of flavor. Served with a side of dark gumbo roux sauce, chicken fried okra spears, saltine crackers, and a small bottle of hot sauce.


A delectable pastry filled with a delicious combination of rich, fluffy cream cheese, blended with succulent duck bacon and delicately roasted sweet corn, with a sprinkling of herbs and spices. These delicately filled dumplings are dropped into the deep fryer until golden-brown and fried to crispy perfection! Three Lucky Duck Dumplin’s are served alongside a sweet and gently spicy Thai chili glaze for dipping, finished with a sprinkling of fresh basil and nestled in a small hand-held tray.


This new Fair favorite starts with Texas best smoked sausage at the base of this shot. We wrap the sausage with delicious hickory smoked bacon which forms a tiny bowl, and this savory tastebud-teaser is filled with everyone’s favorite – creamy mac and cheese. We sprinkle the outside with a secret sweet, spicy BBQ rub to finalize this perfect Fair-food-to-share item. Talk about a party in your mouth! 


Y’all will want to go home with the Armadillo Cookie Butter Ice Cream Sandwich! It is a made-from-scratch cookie butter semifreddo – an Italian take on ice cream that means semi-frozen. The treat is drizzled with cookie butter and sandwiched between two deep fried Armadillo-shaped cookies that are made with a branding iron. Finally, it is dusted with buttery sugar. Absolutely a velvety cream delight! 


This confectionary delight has the rich, buttery, crunchy, sweet deliciousness of an old-fashion peanut brittle. We have, however, replaced the peanuts with the smokey goodness of Texas brisket. This addictively sweet yet savory treat finishes with a satisfying hint of heat. 


Your fall favorite with Texas flair! A Texas-shaped, decadent pumpkin cake with a finger-licking, gooey vanilla glaze, silky caramel, topped with fluffy whipped cream, and lightly sprinkled with secret spice. 


This trick-or-treat experience starts with a delicious large chewy pretzel that is dropped in the fryer. As it becomes golden brown, we quickly bathe it in candy corn syrup, followed by some rainbow sprinkles and powdered sugar. Now the fun begins – piping in orange and white buttercream icing, then stacking some of our most favorite Halloween candies on top. Crowned with Marshmallow whip cream and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, the final touches of Hershey’s chocolate syrup caramel sauce and candy corn are drizzled on. 


We start with lightly glazed, old fashioned cake donuts broken into chunks. Next, we add a scoop of buttery baking morsels flavored with English toffee and almonds and the mixture is blended with a velvety custard. The cakes are dipped in an egg product and covered in panko and vanilla cookie crumbs, then quickly fried to a golden brown! It is served on a plate with a light dusting of powdered sugar and sprinkled with more toffee bits and a dollop of frothy mocha coffee whipped cream.  It is topped off with a miniature chocolate covered toffee bar to fancy it up! 

Up for grabs are the titles of Most Creative and Best Tasting in the sweet and savory categories.

The winners will be named at the end of the month.

The fried foods will be available to try when the fair opens on Sept. 24.


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