Ypsilanti Woman Wins Best Cake Category and Overall Best in Show Award

With her delicious Four Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone Cake, Naomi Toben-Matthews of Ypsilanti took home the top prize at the 2023 All Things Chocolate Baking Competition held Wednesday, Jan. 25, on opening day of Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth.

In her first time competing at Snowfest, Toben-Matthews also won first place in the competition’s Cake Category. To win Best in Show, she had to go up against the second-place finisher in the Cake Category, as well as the top two finishers in the Cookie and Brownie categories. Because a new panel of judges rates the six finalists, taking first-place in your category doesn’t always guarantee you’ll win the grand prize. In fact, in the past, second-place finishers in a category have won the grand prize. It all depends on the preferences of the judges.

That said, this year’s All Things Chocolate Baking Competition attracted 26 amateur bakers from throughout Michigan competing in the three categories – Cookies, Brownies, and Cakes.

Michigan Sugar Company and its Pioneer Sugar brand has sponsored this competition for many years, along with its sponsor partners from WSGW, Le Creuset, and Cars 108.

Here is a look at all of the competitors and top three finishers in each category:


First Place – Pamela Hornbacher-Retzler, Caro, Charlie Brown Cookies.

Second Place – Jessica Bryant, Shepherd, Fudgy Double Chocolate Raspberry Cookies.

Third Place – James Stid, Mason. Showstopper Cookies.

Also competing in this category were:

Michelle Borst Polino, Warren, Spicy Orange-Chili Chocolate Cookies.

Linda Schmidt, Kawkawlin, Sweet & Sassy Chocolate & Peanut Bitter Nut Cups.

Tina Davidson, North Branch, Chocolate Cherry Tornadoes.

Marilyn Spannagel, Unionville, Magic Chocolate Frosted Cookies.

Brenda Washnock, Berkley, Snowball Dainties.

Carolyn Durst, West Branch, Tropo-Choco Cookies.


First Place – Jessica Bryant , Shepherd, Raspberry Frosted Brownies.

Second Place – Theresa Miller, Sault Ste. Marie, Mile High Salted Dark Chocolate Gluten Free Brownies with Vanilla Bourbon Swiss Meringue Butter Cream.

Third Place – Katie Reder, Midland, Boozy Bourbon Fudge Brownies.

Also competing in this category were:

Michelle Borst Polino, Warren, Snicker Brownie Bites.

Betty Kotman, Hudsonville, Favorite Brownies.

Sydney Merrihew, Frankenmuth, Nana Dru’s Chocolate Revel Bars.

Mary Yelland, North Branch, Figgie Fudgy Peanut Butter Brownies.

Betty Timmreck, Eau Claire, Frosted Swirled Brownies.

Alice Verbeek, Vassar, “Cool” Brownies.

Lois Spruytte of Richmond for her Peppermint Mocha Brownies.


First Place – Naomi Toben-Matthews, Ypsilanti, Four Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone Cake.

Second Place – Kevin VanSickle, Birch Run, White & Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake.

Third Place – Donna Bardocz, Howell, Chocolate Surprise Cake.

Also competing in this category were:

Lois Spruytte, Richmond, Poppyseed Cake with Double Chocolate Candy Frosting.

Carol Socier, Bay City, Over the Amon Cookies & Cream Chocolate Cake.

Debbie Cousineau, Mount Morris, Death by Chocolate.

Pamela Gilbeau, Frankenmuth, Tiramisu Chocolate Layer Cake.

Connie Vaughn, Sterling Heights, Chocolate Mousse Cake.

Diane Onnie, Warren, Chocolate-Stout Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting.

Melissa Chrzanowski, Saginaw, Mom’s Chocolate Banana Cinnamon Cake.

A huge thank you to all of the bakers, judges, and event organizers, including Michigan Sugar Queen Brianna Kubik and Queen’s Court Attendants Brooke Pagel and Adriana Ivezaj, who all helped at the event and served as judges.

Click here to view the wonderful recipes submitted by the guest bakers.