November 7, 2013 - 3:30am

A decadent chocolate mousse dessert created by a Vancouver Island University Baking and Pastry Arts student won top prize in a competition focused solely on an ingredient that is near and dear to millions: chocolate.

Miriam Popma almost didn’t enter the Gourmet Warehouse Cacao Barry Callebaut Chocolate Challenge because she thought she wouldn’t have enough time to create a recipe and test results before the Oct. 10 competition in Vancouver.

Encouragement from Baking instructors Martin Barnett and Ken Harper changed Popma’s mind, so she set out with five other VIU competitors to create her entry, a dessert of chocolate mousse layered with cake crumbs and a light orange curd. Coated in chocolate ganache, the dessert was finished with a raspberry sauce, fresh raspberries, and some candied orange zest.

“Miriam’s dessert was unbelievable, and the judges said it was hands-down the best dessert,” said Mark Pennington, regional sales manager for Barry Callebaut Chocolate.

Popma created the mousse and other ingredients in advance, and transported them to Vancouver in a cooler.

“I thought it was going to melt, but it didn’t,” said Popma, who is two months into the 10-month Trades & Applied Technology program.

After judging, 250 guests attending the event were offered samples of prize-winning desserts and chocolate delicacies created by three student finalists and three home cook finalists.

Popma, whose home town is Duncan, attended the event with family members and accepted a whisk-topped trophy and prize package worth approximately $1,000. She says she is sure to use the Cuisinart stand mixer and other professional baking tools, and will find lots of ways to use the 23 kilograms of chocolate she took home as part of her winnings.

Martin Barnett, who chairs VIU’s Baking program, says opportunities to compete in competitions can result in valuable learning for students.

“We are very proud of Miriam and all the culinary students who participate in these events. Competitions are an occasion to be creative, use new skills, and learn more about the industry they are training to work in,” says Barnett.


Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University
P:250.740.6443 C: 250.618.1535 E: T: @viunews

Tags: In the Community

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