Chocolate Bake-off at the Book Larder

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Ok, this is pretty big for me. Last week I participated in my first baking competition and I can’t wait to tell you about it!  When I first heard about the competition a few months ago, I didn’t give it much thought but then realized I promised myself that I would put myself out there more this year. It was the Chocolate Bake Off at Book Larder.  Book Larder is a really cute cookbook shop in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.  I am amazed that I’d never been there before (I mean a cookbook shop, could it be any more made for me!), but will definitely be going back often.  The shop hosts events like this bake-off, food talks, book signings, and cooking classes.  I definitely recommend you check it out!

The stipulations for the contest were that your item had chocolate in it, was homemade, and could serve 50 people.  That last criteria really narrowed down the list of things I could make.  I then had my own list to determine what I would enter:

  • It had to be a recipe already on the blog- I figured this would be a chance to get the word out.
  • Something that was already single-serve or could easily be divided into 50 small servings- this eliminated cakes and large pies.  One of the contestants made a beautiful Black Forest Cake and had to pretty much destroy it by slicing it into 50 pieces.  I felt bad for her. 🙁
  • It had to transport well- Fremont is about a thirty-minute drive from our house.
  • Required little to no refrigeration- I wasn’t sure what the layout would be when we got there, so better to not mess with that.
  • Did not need to be eaten with a utensil- Again, I wasn’t sure of the layout so I just didn’t want to risk it.  I also didn’t want to risk people not taking my dessert because they had to hold their plate with one hand.
  • Something not too typical- I wanted to make sure I stood out.

After all of this, I decided on my German’s Chocolate Sandwich Cookies.  They tick all the boxes!

I made a batch for our Thursday game night just to have a practice round.  On the day of the contest, I gave myself plenty of time to make everything and get it all packed up.  Derek came with me, which I was really thankful for!  He’s such a great cheerleader and it was great having someone there to help me set up.

Putting together the sandwiches at home

Book Larder is a fairly small bookshop with a little kitchen area in the back with an island which is where the contest was.  Each contestant had a tag with their name on it, along with what they made. It was so neat to see my name there and I actually took my tag home. :).

I was glad I got there early to have time to set my stuff up the way I wanted.  It also gave me a chance to watch and see what everyone else brought.

The shop filled up and the contest began!  There were fifty judges, people that signed up ahead of time.  They were given ballots with all of the baked goods listed and were told to circle their three favorites.

It was interesting to watch and I have to admit I was looking for people with my cookies on their plates seeing if they liked them.  After seeing what other bakers brought, I knew if I won it would be on taste not appearance.  The presentation of some of the items was amazing!  Next time I’ll need to step up my decorating game.

One of the judges let me take a photo of her plate 🙂

Once the time was up, the ballots were collected and the winners (1st, 2nd and 3rd place) were announced. I did not win anything, but I still feel like a winner!  It was great to see where I stack up compared to other amateur bakers.  Once all the judges went through, all of us contestants were allowed to go through and taste the items.  There were some really tasty treats.  The winner was a chocolate hazelnut baklava and I can see why (it’s what I would’ve voted for!).  I was pleased though that my flavors stood up.  I even had a couple of the bakers tell me how much they liked mine, which meant a lot!

It might sound hokey, but I am so proud of myself for entering the contest.  I think I’ve mentioned here before that I am an introvert.  I’m that awkward person by the food and drinks table at the last party you went to. 😉 I just have a hard time being outgoing in social situations where I don’t know a lot of people and this was definitely one of those cases!  I gave out a few of my business cards and chatted with a few people which I’m calling a win (Derek was also my hype man for which I was incredibly grateful).  It was really great to be amongst my “people”, talking about baking and seeing people practice their craft.  I will definitely be participating in the next baking contest The Book Larder holds and am even going to look for other contests too!  I’d love to find a contest where I can interact with the judges more and get some feedback so I can get better.

What are some challenges you’ve taken on in 2018?




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