As a Food Network junkie, I know all about Cupcake Wars and the other baking competitions, which often leave me and my taste buds both enticed and frustrated. But fortunate for us Louisvillians, we have our very own bake-off that takes place every year in our own backyard.
It was a yummy showdown at the 5th annual Choctoberfest Chocolate Bake-Off, held Wednesday night by Just Creations. A night of customer appreciation and the main feature of Choctoberfest – a special week of chocolate and charity – the bake-off attracted a great crowd for the fair trade store.
Every year, Just Creations invites any and everyone to showcase their baking skills in their special bake-off competition. Eleven participants put their baking skills to the test in this year's contest, using fair trade chocolate purchased from Just Creations in their chocolate recipes.
This year’s bake-off marked a lot of firsts for the annual event. This year’s event featured a theme, which brought out the spider webs, “rest in pork” headstones, and skulls just in time for Halloween. The bake-off entries were also judged this year based on presentation, in addition to taste.
The judges kicked off the bake-off by making their rounds around the chocolate-filled store, scoring entries based on originality, whether the entry’s name fit its presentation, and of course, creativity. This year's judges included Robin Garr and Mary Johnson, the dashing duo of Louisville Hotbytes.com; Jessica Haskell, owner of Sweet Surrender; and Fred Moore, owner of Coco’s Chocolate Café.
After the presentation round, both guests and judges participated in the tasting portion, which proved to be a real treat. While the judges looked for originality, amount of chocolate, listed ingredients, and overall flavor, guests, like myself, just jumped right in.
Lucky for us, the bake-off featured everything from flourless chocolate hazelnut cookies to vegan chocolate brownies with mocha fudge frosting. Thankfully, there was plenty of water, milk, and apple cider on hand to keep our taste buds wanting more.
Three winners took home prizes in the 5th annual bake-off, which included Laura Amschoff, who won in the presentation category for her “Tangled in Chocolate” treat; Richard Forsting, who won first place in the taste category for his flourless chocolate kahlua cake; and Melissa Wilson, who took home the Fan Favorite award for her rich brownies, which also happened to be my favorite.
To further celebrate Choctoberfest and its annual bake-off, Just for Creations compiled several recipes from the past four bake-offs in a special fair trade chocolate cookbook. Fortunate for all chocolate lovers and bakers, there are still a select few copies available.
The bake-off may be over, but Choctoberfest continues until tomorrow. If you are still looking to pick up some chocolate goodies for trick-or-treating or just plain snacking, stop by Just Creations today. Proceeds from 15% of all chocolate sales and a special raffle for a chocolate sampler gift pack will benefit women in the Democratic Republic of Congo through Women for Women International.
For more information, please visit http://justcreations.org/  or call (502) 897-7319.
Photo: Kristen Hamilton