Bakers Journal

Meet the cupcake finalists

March 17, 2014
By Bakers Journal

March 17, 2014, Toronto – Bakers Journal will be bringing the top three cupcakes in the
Bakers Journal Great Chocolate Cupcake contest to Bakery Showcase, where a
winner will be determined. Here’s a preview of the top three contenders.

Bakers Journal would like to thank Callebaut, Cinelli Esperia
and Mimac Glaze, sponsors of The Great Chocolate Cupcake Contest. The three
finalists were narrowed down based on their written entries, which were scored
points according to the following criteria: pitch (15), recipe
innovation (10), unique twist (5) and marketability (10). Congratulations to
the finalists!


Janet Somers, head baker at The Flour Shoppe in Ottawa
The Nanaimo Brownie Cupcake

1. Why did you become a baker?

Baking has always been a part of my life. Growing up, I could
often be found in the kitchen with my mom helping her with anything from
rolling and cutting out cookies to kneading and braiding bread dough. While
away from home at university, I was always the go-to for making a birthday cake
or satisfying a craving for late night chocolate chip cookies! It was after those
four years of supplying homemade treats to friends and roommates that I
realized how rewarding it felt to make someone smile or brighten someone's day
with something I had made. What was once just a fun hobby suddenly became
something I wanted to do professionally, so I enrolled in baking and pastry
school at George Brown College and have been working in the industry ever

2. What makes you passionate about

I am passionate about cupcakes because I like a challenge.
Finding the perfect balance of flavours and textures does not always come easy,
but I am always ready to try and pack as much flair as I can into each bite.

3. What if your favourite type of
chocolate and why?

My favourite type of chocolate is the ever-controversial white
chocolate. Despite lacking cocoa solids, white chocolate certainly does not
lack flavour. There definitely is good quality white chocolate out there and it
can have the same kind of sweet and creamy flavour that milk chocolate is loved
for. My favourite thing to do with white chocolate is slow roast it in the oven
until it starts to caramelize. Roasting the chocolate opens up a whole new
dimension of rich flavours that I think even the most adamant white chocolate
hater would appreciate. 

4. What will be the next trend in cupcake

I think the next trend in cupcake flavours will be a resurgence
of retro classics and play on nostalgia. It has been said for years now that
cupcakes are just a trend and this or that "is the new cupcake".
However, people have been enjoying cupcakes for decades and even if the hype of
the stand-alone cupcake shop has cooled down, we are going to see people
returning to their favourites. The vanilla confetti cupcakes they had at a
childhood birthday party or the chocolate cupcakes they made with mom for the
school bake sale; it's these familiar and comforting flavours that bring people
back again and again. 

5. Why should your cupcake win the Bakers
Journal Great Chocolate Cupcake Contest? 

While is strays from the classic interpretation of our cake
based cupcakes, the Nanaimo Brownie demonstrates what we consider our greatest
challenge at The Flour Shoppe… to continually take the cupcake to another
level! Despite it's small size, the greatest thing about cupcakes is that they
can be anything they want to be!  A classic square, candy bar, your
favourite ice-cream, many of our favourite cupcakes are familiar flavours put
into new packages.  The Nanaimo Brownie should be chosen as the Greatest
Chocolate Cupcake because not only is it a delicious take on a Canadian
favourite, it embodies the opportunities that cupcakes present creative bakers!

Sarah Allman, pastry chef at Bouwa Whee Catering at
Diavik Diamond Mine, NWT
Classic Chocolate Cupcake

1. Why did you become a pastry chef?

When I was eight, I made my first cake, and it was good. I reveled
in the praise I received and I wont lie, it made me feel great that I was good
at something.

2. What makes you passionate about

Who isn’t? I mean, they are perfect little cakes with
endless flavour possibilities.

3. What is your favourite type of
chocolate and why?

Milk chocolate is my favourite! Ok, all you purists who feel
it’s a disgrace to like anything less then 70 per cent pure chocolate, don’t go
hatin’ now. I like what I like. I have a serious sweet tooth, so if it’s bitter
it’s not for me.

4. What will be the next trend in cupcake

This is where I become a purist and believe in keeping it
simple. Chocolate and vanilla made with quality ingredients will always win my
heart. However, I wouldn't be shocked if I saw some deep fried hybrid of a
cupcake and a doughnut. Start trending #cupnuts anyone?

5. Why should your cupcake win the Bakers
Journal Great Chocolate Cupcake contest?

My cupcakes are classically wonderful; moist and rich and made
with quality ingredients. They simply put a smile on your face when you eat
them, and isn't that the best thing about a cupcake?

Laura MacLean, owner and chef at Omg! Cupcakes, Grande
Prairie, Alta.
Oh! My Gosh Ganache! Cupcake

1. Why did you become a baker/pastry chef?

My interest in baking began with my first Easy Bake Oven and
growing up with a mom who loved to bake and always had a homemade dessert at
each meal. My mom recognized that interest and for Christmas one year bought me
a beginner cake decorating kit. Cake decorating and baking developed into a
hobby as a teenager and continued throughout my life. I settled into an
accounting and small business consulting career, but at age 46 (seven years
ago), without hesitation and with the support of my family, I enrolled in culinary
school. My passion remained with baking so I furthered my education at the
Wilton school in Chicago and mastered my skills in cake decorating. I haven’t
looked back since the grand opening of Omg! Cupcakes on Valentine’s Day in

2. What makes you passionate about

I am passionate about cupcakes for SO many reasons. Primarily
because of the freedom for fun and creativity that they allow their
creator!  They are deliciously fun and
come in a multitude of delicious flavours ranging from traditional chocolate to
Guinness chocolate and Baileys Buttercream. 
The ideas are endless with cupcakes! The icing designs and flavours are
limited only by your imagination and whimsical names like our Go Banana, Dirty
Blonde or Strawberry Lovealicious only enhance the buying experience for our
customers. I love cupcakes because it was one of the first things I learned to
bake. For many of us, they remind us of our childhood because it is a treat we
have all grown up with or baked with our moms. They are less expensive and less
indulgent than a whole cake and buying a variety of cupcakes allows everyone to
choose their favourite flavours. They are convenient to eat and easy to

Cupcakes are an old fashioned treat that generations of kids
have enjoyed, but they’re not just for kids anymore. Our customers range in all
ages and both men and women.  People
celebrate all year long so unlike ice cream, they are non seasonal, which is a
great benefit as a business owner. They really are timeless because they can be
designed to suite any occasion people want to celebrate. 

3. What is your favourite type of
chocolate and why?

My favourite type of chocolate is definitely dark chocolate.
I have always found it to have a deeper, richer chocolate flavour than milk
chocolate, especially when we use it in our chocolate ganache. When we dip our
cupcakes in dark chocolate, the flavour stands out much more than with milk and
provides a deep, dark, shiny coating, which makes the cupcakes look
fantastic!  I find it easier to work with
as well.

4. What will be the next trend in cupcake

Cupcakes are definitely trendy and I’ve seen more savoury
flavours appear over the years, although they are not my personal preference. Sweet
and salty has been growing in popularity, with flavours like Salted Caramel. Our
Guinness Beer and Bacon is always a favourite when we bring it back each
Father’s Day.   

Spicy is also trendy with flavours like Frank’s Red Hot or
Mexican Chili Chocolate, which have yet to hit the menu at Omg! I also think
buttercream is back! Yay! Fondant topped cupcakes were trendy and very pretty,
but extremely time consuming and therefore expensive. Cupcakes should taste as
good as they look and fondant toppers rarely get eaten. In my opinion, it is
primarily about the quality and taste, and buttercream is just better!

5. Why should your cupcake win the Bakers
Journal Great Chocolate Cupcake contest?

Our cupcake should win because for many reasons, it really
is a special cupcake. It not only looks fantastic, but more importantly, it
tastes fantastic and has a history for me, like many great recipes do! It was a
family favourite recipe growing up and so has much sentimental value. To this
day we still all bake it and continue to call it Laraine’s chocolate cake,
which was my mom’s best friend’s recipe. 
It’s one of those recipe cards you have that you can barely read because
it’s covered in chocolate and grease because it’s been used so many times.  It was the first cupcake I just knew, I had
to have on the Omg! Menu, and one that I am very proud to have entered and
shared in the competition. 

The chocolate cake itself is extremely moist and after being
hand dipped in a silky smooth, dark chocolate ganache, it is like the moisture
is sealed in. The ganache coating gives the cupcake a beautiful shine and
provides a wonderful base for the buttercream frosting without making it too
sweet, but at the same time adding an intense chocolate flavour. Our
buttercream frosting that tops this cupcake really is the best! It’s made with
the best ingredients. Real butter and heavy cream! We whip it, and whip it
good, so the buttercream is light and fluffy and melts in your mouth. 

This cupcake is our signature flavour and top selling
cupcake since opening three years ago. It is a water-based cake which is
affordable, and the recipe if very straight forward and simple to make using
basic ingredients we all have in our kitchen. 








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