North Conway cupcake fundraiser is sweet success for nonprofit

Special to the Union Leader |
February 17. 2013 9:06PM

Eden Levitt and Alexandra Ianuzzi are all smiles after sampling the cupcakes Saturday. (SARA YOUNG-KNOX PHOTO)

NORTH CONWAY - It was a baker's dozen of 13 that competed in the third annual Cupcake Battle on Saturday, bringing out the best from their kitchens to give the judges' taste buds a licking.

The event was a delicious fundraiser for Mount Washington Valley Promotions, the nonprofit organization that promotes events and fundraisers of nonprofits in the valley. Prizes were awarded in three categories: professional baker, home baker, and child.

"There're so many varieties," Cherie Ianuzzi remarked on her way out of unrented retail space next to Staples on Route 16. Ianuzzi was accompanied by her daughter, Alexandra, and her daughter's friend, Eden Levitt. The two girls were carrying paper plates full of the bite-sized cupcakes.

David's caramel apple spice surprise cupcakes, created and baked by Beth Carta-Dolan, was the trio's favorite.

Ianuzzi and the girls weren't alone in their assessment. Carta-Dolan, proprietor of The Sugarmaker Bakery in Glen, took the top honors in the professional baker category, as she did last year when she entered a French toast and maple syrup-themed cupcake.

The cupcakes were judged by those who spent $10 for a ticket to sample the treats, which means the Ianuzzis, of the White Mountain Cupcakery's Ianuzzi family, are pretty good judges when it comes to figuring what the public will like.

"There's some awesome displays this year," Lisa Saunders-DuFault, executive director of Mount Washington Valley Promotions, said, looking around the room. "Somebody asked me, 'Do you want me to be a judge?' I said, 'Everybody's a judge!' "

Amber Semprevon and Ken Martin shared the top prize in the home baker category, and young Jordan Goldblatt was the 12-and-under winner. Semprevon's caramel calypso cupcakes were caramel-filled cinnamon with vanilla bean frosting. Martin's were Irish stout cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream. Jordan's secret ingredient was pineapple.

Carta-Dolan's cupcakes had a decidedly old Yankee theme. The surprise ingredient topping the cupcakes, along with the apple chunks? Cheddar cheese. The inspiration came from her father, Dolan said, who used to like cheddar on his slices of apple pie.

"These were fun, coming up with this flavor," she said.

They didn't walk away with any prizes, but the Estey family was clearly enjoying the event. Ruth Estey, a senior at Kennett High School in Conway, was happy to share the recipe for the colorful taste the rainbow cupcakes she and her father, Eugene, entered. She divided the cake batter into six portions, putting a different color food dye in each, before pouring them into the cupcake tins. She used some food coloring spray on the frosting, and put a Skittle on top of each.

Her mother, Elizabeth, was offering cupcakes that promised "A basketful of fun", and Ruth had another table full of colorful mint chocolate cupcakes. Ruth was competing in the home baker category, but she has plans to become a professional - she's taken four years of culinary classes at the Mount Washington Career Technical Center in Kennett, and has plans to attend White Mountains Community College next fall. She'll be majoring in culinary arts.


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