In 1996, Dorothy Dillon entered 100 dishes at the fair, hoping to win enough prize money to buy her mother a freezer and clothes dryer. Dorothy happily reported that she earned more than $500, which she used to purchase the appliances for her mom, Jean Branson.
24 pitted dates
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 egg whites
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
Slice the dates down the center, being careful not to cut through. Place the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium-size saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until you can spin thread. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Remove half the cooked syrup and add to the egg whites, blending well. Cook the remaining syrup to the hard-ball stage (255 degrees F). Add the nuts and vanilla; mix well. Add this mixture to the egg white mixture and beat until stiff but not dry. Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each date. Wrap with plastic and store in an airtight container.