The Place


A local candy company just won a gold award in a national competition

Posted at 1:33 PM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 15:33:59-04

julieanncaramels Maple Bacon has won the gold award in the Confectionary (non-chocolate) category as part of the Specialty Food Association's (SFA) 2021 sofi™ Awards, a top honor in the $158 billion specialty food industry.

Owner Rowena Montoya says, "I can't believe we won," and goes on to say, "This is like the Olympics in the food industry!"

Maple Bacon Caramel was one of 130 winners selected from nearly 1,500 entries across 49 product categories.

They were judged on flavor, appearance, texture, aroma, ingredient quality and innovation.

JulieAnn Caramels Maple Bacon uses Boar's Head Brand Pancetta Bacon and real maple syrup. When combined with fresh cream, butter and other natural ingredients you can't beat this sweet treat.

Rowena was kind enough to share a recipe with us as well:

Chocolate Fudge Cake

  • (2 cups) plain flour
  • (1 + ¾ cups) powder sugar
  • (⅔ cup + 1 tsp) cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • (1 cup + 2tsp) buttermilk
  • (½ cup + 1tsp) vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • (1 cup + 2tsp) very hot coffee or boiling water

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • (1 cup) powder sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • (1 cup + 1 tbsp) softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp (or more to taste) salted caramel

Whipped Ganache

  • (7 oz) dark chocolate
  • (¾ cup + 1tbsp + 1tsp) double cream

1. Bake the cake the day before you want to ice it. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Grease and line two 20cm/8in round tins.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarb of soda together into a large bowl, stir in the sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract, pour into the dry ingredients and beat well until smooth and combined. Add the hot coffee, a little at a time, until it is all combined, the mixture will be very liquid, don't panic! Divide the batter between the tins and place in the centre of the oven, check after 35 minutes - a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no wet batter. They could take up to an hour to bake though, mine took 55 minutes, just check every 5-10 minutes after the 35 minute mark.

3. Once baked, remove to a wire rack, still in their tins, and leave to cool completely. Once cold, wrap the cakes in their tins in clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight, or for at least an hour. It is far easier to slice a cold cake in half neatly.

4. Make the salted caramel: Place the sugar and water into a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring to the boil and cook, swirling the pan, NOT stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the colour changes to amber. Remove from the heat and pour the cream - be careful as the caramel will bubble ferociously and rise up in the pan. When the bubbling stops, add the butter and whisk till combined, it may not be completely smooth at this point.

5. Return the pan to a medium heat and cook at a gentle simmer, whisking the whole time, for a couple of minutes until the caramel is smooth and free of lumps. Whisk in the salt, a little at a time, tasting as you go (CAREFULLY - the caramel is very hot!), until it's at the right level of saltiness for you. Make sure that the salt is actually fully combined, and not just sinking to the bottom, before adding more. Leave the caramel to cool completely, it can be made the day beforehand and stored in the fridge for up to a week.

6. To make the salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream, put the egg whites and sugar in an extremely clean heatproof bowl (use the bowl of your stand mixer if you have one). Place over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water) and whisk with a hand whisk (not electric) until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture is warm to the touch, if you rub some of the mixture between your fingers it should be smooth and you shouldn’t be able to feel any graininess, this will take about five minutes. If you want to get technical about it the mix should reach 60°C/140°F on a thermometer.

7. Remove the bowl from the heat and attach it to your stand mixer with the whisk attachment or use an electric hand whisk, whisk the egg whites until it forms a thick, glossy, bright white meringue and is completely cool, the bottom of the bowl should feel cool to the touch, this will take about 10 minutes.

8. Once the meringue is cold, switch the mixer to a low speed and begin to add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, make sure that each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next; the meringue will deflate a little and may begin to look curdled, don’t panic! This is normal, just keep adding the butter gradually and whipping away and it will come back together. If, once all the butter has been added, your mixture is runny, the butter may have been too soft or the meringue still warm, just put the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes or so then carry on whipping.

9. If, even after a decent amount of whipping, it still looks curdled, place about 4 tablespoons worth of the mixture in a small bowl and microwave for 10-15 seconds, it should become runny, pour this back into the bowl of buttercream, down the side of the bowl while whisking, continue to whisk for a few minutes and it should come back together. Once the buttercream is completely smooth and silky and all the butter has been incorporated, whisk in the vanilla extract and salted caramel.

10. Remove the cakes from the fridge and carefully, using a long, sharp serrated knife (like a bread knife) slice each one in half so you have four layers. Place one layer on a serving plate or cake stand and spread over just over a quarter of the buttercream, then drizzle over a tablespoon or two of the salted caramel (you can thin it with a little more cream or warm it VERY slightly until it becomes pourable if needed - I'm talking no more than 10 seconds in the microwave, do not let it become warm or it will melt the buttercream). Top with another layer of cake and repeat until you have three layers of buttercream; place the final layer of cake on top - use one of the bottom halves, upside-down, so that you have a flat top.

11. Spread the remaining scant quarter of buttercream thinly all over the cake, it does not need to be neat and you will be able to see cake through the buttercream but try to get it fairly smooth and cover the cake evenly; this is your crumb coat - it will stop cake crumbs from getting into your ganache. Place the cake in the fridge for at least fifteen minutes while you make the ganache.

12. To make the ganache, chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Put the cream in a small pan and heat until just simmering, pour it over the chocolate, making sure that it is all covered; leave to stand for 5-10 minutes then stir until smooth. Leave the ganache until it has cooled to room temperature - it should have thickened but still be spoonable, like pudding (you can pop it in the fridge to speed this up). Whisk with an electric whisk until it has lightened in colour and has the texture of thick whipped cream, do not overwhip or you will end up with chocolate butter...which sounds delicious but is not what we want here! Immediately spread the ganache all over the cake - work fairly quickly as it doesn't take long for it to start to set.

13. To finish, drizzle over the remaining salted caramel.

Maple Donuts

Donut Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cinnamon (a scant ⅛ teaspoon)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons (¼ cup) melted, unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup half & half
  • Neutral oil, for frying (about 6 cups)
  • 4 strips bacon (for optional garnish to crisp, chop and sprinkle over glaze)
  • 1 cup of caramel sauce( to drizzle over doughnut)

Maple Glaze Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk or half & half
  • ½ teaspoon maple flavor
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. To prepare the donuts, add the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon to a medium bowl, and whisk to blend and aerate; set these dry ingredients aside for a moment.
  2. To another large bowl, add the sugar and the eggs, and using a hand mixer, mix on medium-high until very thick and pale, about 2-3 minutes; add in the vanilla extract and the melted butter, and mix again until incorporated.
  3. Next, add about ⅓ of the dry ingredients into the sugar/egg mixture, and switching to a wooden spoon now, hand-mix until incorporated.
  4. Then, pour in half of the half & half, and mix that in until incorporated; repeat the process with another ⅓ of the dry ingredients, then mix; then the rest of the half & half, then mix; then finish with the remainder of the dry ingredients, and gently mix just until everything is incorporated (take care not to over-mix), and the dough is soft and fairly sticky, which you want.
  5. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the dough in your bowl, and place into the fridge for 1 hour.
  6. While the dough chills, prepare your maple glaze and crisp your bacon, if using: add all the glaze ingredients into a medium-size bowl, and whisk together until the mixture is smooth, glossy, thick and creamy; cover with plastic and keep at room temp until ready to use.
  7. Crisp the bacon in a pan for a few minutes, drain, then chop; set aside to use once the donuts have been glazed.
  8. After an hour, prepare your work space to roll and cut out your dough by sprinkling a little flour over your work surface.
  9. Add your oil to a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot (it should come about 2” up the sides), and begin to slowly heat your oil to 365° (use a thermometer for accuracy).
  10. While the oil heats, carefully turn out the dough onto your lightly floured work surface (sprinkle a little extra on top of the dough as well) and using a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll the dough to about ½” thickness.
  11. Using a 3” cutter for the donuts and a 1” small cutter for the donut holes, cut the donuts out and set them aside on a large baking sheet with flour-sprinkled parchment paper to hold; gather any scraps of dough you have left, gently roll them, and cut those out too, until all dough is cut out. (You can fry the donut holes if you'd like, but I just gather mine up and make another couple of donuts.)
  12. Once oil is hot, work in batches by adding in about 3 donuts into the oil, and allow them to fry on that first side for about 1 minute, until lightly golden-brown and puffed; then, flip (using tongs) and allow to fry on the other side for 1 minute; remove and allow the donuts to drain on paper towel-lined cooling racks; repeat until all donuts are fried.
  13. If you're frying the donut holes, fry for about 30 seconds, moving them around to fry all sides, or until golden; allow those to drain, as well.
  14. Allow the donuts/holes to cool until room temp or only slightly warm before glazing.
  15. Dip each donut liberally into the maple glaze, lift, and allow any excess to drip off; set aside on the wire cooling rack to allow the glaze to set up; repeat until all are glazed.
  16. Sprinkle on the optional crispy, chopped bacon immediately after glazing so that it adheres to the glaze.

Tips & Tidbits for my Maple Donuts recipe:

  • All-purpose flour, nice and simple: I tried this recipe using cake flour and thought it was fairly good, but found the all-purpose flour to yield a texture closer to what a donut shop's donut does. So we're keeping it simple with regular ol' all purpose flour!
  • Aromatic spices: Ground nutmeg (if you use out of a glass jar, make sure it's fresh) and a little pinch of cinnamon give these cake donuts that unmistakeable donut flavor we know and love—so yummy!
  • Higher fat dairy: Half & half is my go-to for these cake donuts, because it has a few extra grams of fat per cup than whole milk, which adds a bit more richness and tenderness to the dough. However, if you don't have the half & half, you can substitute the whole milk, just be aware the donuts may not be quite as rich and moist. (And I wouldn't even recommend using 2% or low fat milk.)
  • Flavorful, melted butter: I use 4 tablespoons (¼ cup) melted, unsalted butter in the recipe. It adds good flavor and extra richness!
  • Don't over mix: During that stage when you are alternating and mixing in the dry ingredients and the liquid, use a wooden spoon to make sure things are mixed just enough to be well blended, but not over-mixed. I personally feel I have the most control using this method even though it may take a few extra minutes, which is worth it to me.
  • Chill the sticky dough: Once mixed, place some plastic wrap directly over the dough and place into the fridge to set/chill for one hour. This does help the dough to be a bit more workable and easy to roll out/cut.
  • Use a bit of extra flour when rolling/cutting the dough: I always sprinkle on a fair amount of flour onto my work surface before turning the dough out onto it. I also dip my hands in the flour to help the dough to not stick to them quite as much, and sprinkle some over top before rolling as well. Also, dip the cutters into the flour in between each donut you cut!
  • 3” donut cutter and 1” hole cutter: These are the dimensions of the cutters I use for the donuts and their holes. I'm personally not crazy about donut holes, so I actually gather mine up and add them to the dough scraps, then gently re-roll to create more donuts.
  • Neutral oil for frying: Since canola oil has gotten a bad wrap, I try to avoid using that at all in my cooking these days. Many oils used for frying are not all that great for us, unfortunately, but since a neutral oil is needed, just use vegetable oil or safflower oil—something that can withstand higher heat when frying.
  • Work in small batches for a quick, easier fry: It only takes about 1 minute per side to fry the donuts, and the process is much easier when you only add 3-4 donuts in at a time.
  • Drain on paper towels: Draining the donuts on paper towels helps to wick away any extra grease from the donuts once out of the hot oil, so don't skip this step...unless you want greasy donuts! 🙁
  • Cool slightly before glazing: While the donuts do not have to be cold to glaze, do allow them some time once out of the oil to cool off to room temp. Then, dip and glaze, and allow it to set for a few minutes before serving the donuts.