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Local baking talent competes nationally

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Stephanie Nuccitelli’s knack for culinary detail has landed her in the national spotlight.  With her Mini Salted Caramel Mocha Cheesecakes, she is one of three finalists in Crock-Pot’s search for the Ultimate Crock-Star.  If chosen, Nuccitelli will be flown to New York City to film an episode the Cooking Channel’s “From the Kitchens of…”

Nuccitelli grew up in Davis, where she received her bachelor’s degree in both child development and psychology before relocating to Sacramento.  She recently spoke with The Sacramento Press about the competition and her love for baked goods.

SP: So tell me about this contest.
SN: Crock-Pot is trying to find a slow cooker enthusiast who creates unique and unexpected original slow cooker recipes.  They narrowed down all the submissions and picked their favorite three based on originality, creativity and overall appeal.  The public is choosing the winner by voting over the next two weeks.  

SP: How long have you been baking, and how did you start?
SN: I’ve been baking for as long as I can remember.  Growing up, my dad would bake cookies a lot of weekends and I’d help him.  One year I remember getting a cookbook for kids and trying out new recipes.  I just kept going and trying harder recipes as I got older.  Since I started blogging three years ago, I bake very often and have honed my skills.  I’m self-taught, but I have enough experience that I can spot recipes that won’t work and successfully tackle new recipes.

SP: Where does your passion for cupcakes come from?
SN: I started baking cupcakes a few years ago and just fell in love with them.  What’s not to like? They’re cute, delicious and the perfect individual size.  You can easily customize them with different cupcake wrappers, and they’re fun and easy to decorate.  I’m a sucker for any cute, miniature desserts, and cupcakes fit the bill perfectly.

SP: Tell me about your entry.
SN: I wanted to make a dessert, both because that’s my area of expertise and it’s not what you’d expect in a slow cooker contest.  Lots of people have made cheesecakes in slow cookers, so I gave them my own spin by adding a unique flavor and cooking them in little Mason jars.  I brainstormed flavor ideas, trying to think of something that was original, creative and the most appealing, and eventually came up with salted caramel mocha.  Salted caramel is a hugely popular flavor, and by adding in elements of chocolate and coffee, I thought they would be a big hit.  Little did I know they would actually end up being my boyfriend’s favorite dessert out of all the hundreds of desserts I’ve made over the years!

SP: Where do you hope to take your craft?  What’s the “big dream”?
SN: I love baking and coming up with creative and beautiful desserts.  I’d love to continue creating and developing recipes, whether for my blog, brands, or for a cookbook.

Voting for the Ultimate Crock-Star runs through Nov. 25.  Click here to view all three finalists, and help send our local girl to NYC! You can also find Nuccitelli on her blog, 52 Kitchen Adventures.  


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