Team Sweet Fantasies claims top prize in GPC Ingredient Application Challenge

From more traditional desserts, such as peanut butter mousse bites, to desserts with a bit of a kick, like the sweet and spicy mango habanero pot stickers, entries in this year’s GPC Ingredient Application Challenge had the judges and taste testers raving.

For the second year in a row, Iowa State University’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) partnered with Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) to offer the GPC Ingredient Application Challenge. The event offers undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to put their food science knowledge to the test as they create recipes using industrial ingredients provided by GPC.

“The goal is to get more people familiar with the GPC name,” said Kelly Belknap, applications scientist with GPC.

The event started with an information session in January, followed by training sessions the five teams of students took part in to learn about the GPC products. For this year’s competition, each team was required to make a sweet treat using one modified food starch and one maltodextrin provided by GPC. The teams checked in with FSHN lecturer Kate Gilbert and GPC scientists as the students worked on creating their recipes in the weeks leading up to the March 7 finale.

Team Sweet Fantasies (Kayla Johnson, Ambar Morales and Natali Jouzi) received first place in the competition. They are pictured with the judges, Mike Kramer, Ben Porter and Dan Putnam.

Throughout the afternoon of March 7, each team gave a presentation about their product to the judges and other GPC representatives in MacKay Hall. Following the presentations, students, staff and faculty members had the opportunity to taste the sweet treats the teams created.

At the end of the night, Team Sweet Fantasies (Kayla Johnson, Natali Jouzi and Ambar Morales) was named the winner of the challenge and the $750 top prize for their Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes with Hibiscus Lime Buttercream and Meringue Crumble.

Johnson said matcha (powdered green tea leaves) is a new trend in the baking world, which is why her team chose to incorporate the ingredient into their cupcakes.

With a mixture of the sweetness of matcha and the tartness of hibiscus incorporated into the cupcakes, Johnson said it took several tries before they got the flavor combination just right.

“It was a lot of trial and error to bring out the hibiscus flavor,” Johnson said of when they were working on the frosting.

Team Sassy Starch Queens ( Heidi Jones, Jessica Havel and Colby Abrams) received third place in the competition.

Second place ($500) and Crowd Favorite ($10 Amazon gift cards) honors went to Team Challenge BaBEs (Rebecca Furbeck, Emma Jorgenson and Amanda VanScoy) for their Citrus Heat Amaranth Truffles. Team Sassy Starch Queens took third place ($350) for their Sweet and Spicy Mango Habanero Pot Stickers.

Teams A Work in Progress (Emily Elliott, Allison Little and Evan McCoy) and Don’t Go Bacon My Heart (Kayla Johnson, Brian Klopf and Jake Manternach) were the other two teams that took part in the challenge. They made Peanut Butter Mousse Bites and Maple Piggie Twists, respectively.

The judges said the taste of the sweet treats created by the students accounted for only 30 percent of the total points awarded. They were more concerned about the science used to create the food items.

“I was impressed by the technical presentations and how well they knew the ingredients and used them to solve problems,” said Ben Porter, judge and GPC representative.

“They were excellent in utilizing current trends in the market,” added Dan Putnam, judge and GPC representative.

In addition to the prize money, Sweet Fantasies’ cupcakes will be handed out at the National Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Las Vegas in June.

GPC hopes the ingredient challenge continues to be offered in the future at Iowa State.

“We would hope it continues,” said Diane Rieke, GPC manager of marketing and communications. “It’s a great way to get fresh ideas from people not in our company.”