Cheers and proud clapping filled the Pearl Tent last weekend as the first place winner of the Blueberry Creation Competition was announced. Tammy Ann Thompson took the win with her blueberry cheesecake in a jar.
Alyeska’s Mountain Marketing Manager, Ben Napolitano said, “she brought a cheering section with her!” And indeed she did, her nine proud kids were in tow at the Blueberry Festival to cheer Thompson on to the win. They had a great time and cannot wait to come back to Alyeska Thompson said.
Thompson is Athabascan, born and raised in Alaska and grew up in Anchorage. She has no formal culinary or baking training, but she has created wedding cakes for some couples “I love the decorating and the design part,” Thompson said.
Thompson and her family are regulars at the cheesecake competition at the fair in Palmer, but Thompson has never had a winning item. “I never really liked making cheesecake,” Thompson said with a laugh. During her cheesecake explorations, she had this idea of taking a cheesecake on a picnic, that is how her winning creation was born. On her Blueberry Creations entry card, she wrote, “Something I’ve always wanted to make – cheesecake to go.”
Adding the touch of chocolate to her creation is the aspect that Thompson thinks pushed her over the victory line. She melted dark chocolate into the center of the cheese cake prior to baking, and surrounded the mason jars with water, as they cooked, to encourage the cakes to be really moist. She topped them with Alaskan blueberries before and after the baking process as well as a specially-created wedge of white chocolate.
The last one she made she put raspberries on it, but of course, the switch to blueberries for the festival was a simple one. “I am all about simple,” said Thompson.
The winners were initially announced to the competitors at the judging table. Thompson was in the back and couldn’t hear, her eager kids had pushed closer to the front and they told her they thought she received third place. When it was discovered, at the official announcement in the pearl tent, that she had won first place she was thrilled. “It was a nice surprise; we were all excited,” she said.
As Executive Chef / Director of Food & Beverage Jason Porter stated in his impromptu speech, following the announcement, Alyeska was delighted by all of the Blueberry Creation entries this year and it was very difficult to choose a winner. Alyesk Resorts sends thanks to all who participated and wants to recognize Sarah Von Paul for receiving second place and Anne Spady for receiving third.
Thompson generously provided her award-winning recipe so that everyone can have a “blueberry cheesecake Alaska epic-nick.”
Cream cheese: 3, 8 oz. packages
Whipping cream: ¾ cup
Sugar: 1 cup
Vanilla: 1 Tbs.
Flour: 2 Tbs.
Ganache sauce (dark chocolate bar & whipping cream)
12 small jars
Place your blended cream cheese mixture into glass jars, fill halfway. Place 1 Tbs. full of ganache into the center, add 1/4 cup of blue berries on top. Bake at 325 degrees in a convection oven for 45 to 55 minutes; jars are baked in a baking dish full of hot water. Serve with fresh Alaska berries. Optional: make your own chocolate decorations. You can top the jar with a lid, as well, to make it more portable.