For the love of chocolate

6 Oct

CheesecakeDaniella Juhasz believes in the power of chocolate.

The 19-year-old Allentown resident baked her way to a blue ribbon in this year’s Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship with a Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake.

Last year, chocolate was key to her first-place finish in the Hershey Cocoa Cookies, Brownies and Bars Contest and a statewide third-place prize for her Super Double Fudge Brownies at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Even when she isn’t baking for the fair’s special contests, chocolate is always close at hand. The Lehigh County Community College student reveals, “When I’m ready to do my homework, treating myself to a Milky Way gives me the energy to go on. It really puts me in the mood to study.”

She adds, however, “I love Hershey’s line of chocolate bars and their Peanut Butter Cups,” and says she’ll never tire of visiting Hershey Park and Chocolate World.

“I’ve loved chocolate for as long as I can remember,” she confides. There were no vanilla ice cream cones, even in her toddler days. “If I do get a dish or cone that’s a mix of chocolate and vanilla, I’ll eat the chocolate half and give the rest to my dad. He’s the one who loves vanilla.”

Her favorite birthday cake? It is a rich chocolate cake with an even richer, thick and creamy chocolate icing that Daniella’s aunt, Eva Seibert, bakes for her. “Before Aunt Eva created it, I always asked my dad to bake his special vanilla cheesecakes for me. But this chocolate cake has become my new favorite.”

She’s grown up in a family of good cooks and bakers, Daniella says. “My grandmother Eva Juhasz of Allentown has been baking from scratch forever. My aunt continues her tradition and they’ve been working to pass it on to me, too. My dad’s specialty is the vanilla cheesecake, but I also love his way of making barbecued chicken on the grill. My mom is from Peru. Any dish she makes is great.”

Her Aunt Eva, a Salisbury Township resident and Allentown Fair contest veteran, first suggested Daniella should consider entering the fair contests. To encourage Daniella, Seibert shared her massive collection of Chocolatier magazines and offered some chocolate baking tips that have paid off for her in past cooking contests.

“I found a chocolate cheesecake that sounded good and switched it up a bit. I added some Chambord and some raspberry jam, too,” Daniella says.

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Unlike some contestants who make versions of their entries over and over again, Daniella decided on the changes she wanted to make, made the cake once and carried it to the fair for judging.

“I was amazed when they announced my name, and even more surprised when I saw some of the beautiful-looking cakes that also were entered in the contest,” Daniella says.

The two-toned chocolate cheesecake, with a chocolate heart and a darker-toned chocolate glaze, was simply decorated with a few fresh raspberries and some mint leaves. The cheesecake’s taste clinched the win.

“Daniella is a young baker who created an awesome cake. It placed first out of 22 entries,” says Julie Intrepido-Kmetz, the Allentown Fair’s supervisor of special culinary contests.

The cake’s chocolate hit comes from chocolate cookie crumbs for the crust, eight ounces of chopped Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate in the cake and four more ounces of semi-sweet chocolate in the glaze. Its traditional texture and richness comes from two pounds of cream cheese packed into it, along with the sweetness from an entire can of sweetened condensed milk.

The young baker debated about the fruit flavor she wanted to add. “Mango is my favorite fruit. I’d also seen a recipe for a strawberry and chocolate cheesecake. But I decided raspberries sounded like my best choice and they are my second favorite. I love snacking on fresh raspberries.”

She says there are no real secrets to making the cheesecake, which is baked in a water bath. However, she cautions, “Make sure the springform pan is tightly covered with aluminum foil. I use two layers. You don’t want any water to get into the spring form pan after you’ve placed it in the roasting pan and add water to it. That water, about two cups, she says, should be hot, but not boiling, when using it for the water bath.

The future dental hygienist’s culinary plans? To enter at least one fair contest again next year. But what about trying to win the Pillsbury Bake-Off’s $1 million prize? She says, “I definitely could get myself motivated to enter it!”

Meanwhile, she’s going to put her prize basket of Ghirardelli chocolate ingredients to good use. “As soon as I pick up some more cream cheese, I’m going to bake another Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake because some members of my family, including my mom and brother, still haven’t gotten to taste it.”

Article posted by Spencer Samaroo, Managing Director, Moo-Lolly-Bar
The best online chocolate, lolly and confectionery store on the web!

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Source and Photo: The Morning Call

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