Ypsilanti woman’s Triple Chocolate Caramel Delight Cake makes her repeat champion

Naomi Tobin-Matthews wasn’t sure she would be returning to Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth this year to defend her All Things Chocolate Baking Competition championship.

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, one day before opening day of Snowfest and the popular baking contest, Tobin-Matthews’ 17-year-old cat Fiona died. It was a day filled with tears and emotion and Tobin-Matthews said she wasn’t sure she was up to baking her entry into this year’s competition – a Triple Chocolate Caramel Delight Cake.

In 2023, Tobin-Matthews’ Four Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone Cake was the grand prize recipe at the annual competition that sees amateur bakers from across the state of Michigan competing in three categories – cookies, brownies, and cakes. Each year, the top three recipes in each category are chosen with the first- and second-place finishers advancing to the finals where judges select a grand prize winner.

“I am over the moon. I’m so excited,” said Tobin-Matthews. “I had a really bad day yesterday, so this is very nice. I did not expect this all. It’s just so exciting.”

This year, more than two dozen bakers braved the fog, sleet, and rain to make it to Frankenmuth for the contest. Here is a list of the participants and top three finishers in each category:


  • First Place – Marilyn Spannagel, Unionville, Raspberry Ganache Fudge Snowflake Cookies.
  • Second Place – Pamela Hornbacher-Retzler, Caro, Owls Deep Dark Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies.
  • Third Place – Tina Davidson, North Branch, Chocolate Salted Caramel Cheesecake Surprise Cookies.
  • Lisa Bly, Eaton Rapids, Triple Chocolate Cherry Nut Cookies
  • Melissa Kildow, Grand Blanc, Balsamic Glazed & Confused Cookies.
  • James Stid, Mason, Deer Tracks.
  • Jessica Bryant, Shepherd, Maple Cream Filled Chocolate Cookie Sandwich.
  • Gaelen McNamara, Okemos, Walnut-Orange Triple Chocolate Cookies.


  • First Place – Jessica Bryant, Shepherd, Maple Caramel Pecan Brownies.
  • Second Place – Sydney Merrihew, Frankenmuth, Red Velvet Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Brownies.
  • Third Place – Marilou Reiffer, Grand Rapids, Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bombs.
  • Michelle Borst Polino, Warren, Black Forest Brownie Bites.
  • April Cutler, Applegate, Brownie Torture Turtle Tarts.
  • Carolyn Durst, West Branch, Delectable Dark Chocolate-Raspberry Brownies.
  • Linda Schmidt, Kawkawlin, Golden Apple Brownies.
  • Betty Timmreck, Eau Claire, Raspberry Frosted Brownie Delight.
  • Amy Cremer, Shelby Township, Salted Caramel Brownies.
  • Lois Spruytte, Richmond, Scrumptious Brownies with a Delightful Orange.


  • First Place – Naomi Tobin-Matthews, Ypsilanti, Triple Chocolate Caramel Delight Cake.
  • Second Place – Melissa Chrzanowski, Saginaw, Mulled Wine Chocolate Cake with Orange Mascarpone Cream.
  • Third Place – Melissa Kildow, Grand Rapids, Dragon Fruit Mooncake.
  • Mary Yelland, North Branch, Chai Lavender Tea-licious Flourless Chocolate Cake.
  • Divya Paul, Troy, Chocolate and Raspberry Cake.
  • Pamela Gilbeau, Frankenmuth, Chocolate Raspberry Torte Cake.
  • Carol Socier, Bay City, Half Baked Hazelnut Infused Chocolate Cake.
  • Tim Shorkey, Burton, Rasperried Devil’s Food Trifle.
  • Pamela Hornbacher-Retzler, Caro, “Richest” Chocolate Cake.
  • Carol Kammer, Macomb, Rosie’s Chocolate Farmhouse Cake.

Michigan Sugar Company sponosored the All Things Chocolate Baking Competition in partnership with WSGW and Le Creuset. All participants took home a gift bag filled with a variety of gifts, including white granulated, Golden Light Brown, Dark Brown, and Confectioners Powdered Pioneer Sugar.

Michigan Sugar Queen Kassie Acker, Queen’s Court Attendant Kylie Spiekerman, and Michigan Sugar Shareholder Relations Coordinator Lindy Richards were also on hand running the prize wheel and helping judge the categories.

Below are links to the recipes submitted by participants: