Jessica Leiter, 28, grew up in the family business —Leiters Fine Catering in Williamsport.
“I got involved in the catering aspect when I was an early teen — helping out, learning the ropes. The past few years, I did staff scheduling. Then recently I began baking cakes.”
She said she prefers baking cupcakes more than anything. She entered two original recipes in The Herald-Mail’s 2013 Cupcake Contest. This one, for chocolate cherry cupcakes, advanced to the final round.
Leiter said she likes spending time with her family. That’s also the setting in which she learned to cook.
“I learned a lot of cooking technique from my father,” she said. “A lot of home-cooked meals I learned from my mom. And I learned baking from my grandmother.”
Now living on her own with her boyfriend and two small dogs, Leiter enjoys baking for a hobby, but she also reads, does yoga and rides her bike.
For this recipe, Leiter thought she might start with chocolate and add another flavor. She got an idea from a suggestion of her father’s and a random bottle of flavored syrup she found in a kitchen cabinet.
“Chocolate seems to be the flavor most people lean toward. I was jotting down ideas and talked to my father, and he suggested cherry,” she said. “Then I found (a bottle of Southern Black Cherry Mix) syrup and I experimented with that.”
— Chris Copley, Lifestyle assistant editor
Chocolate cherry cupcake
For the cake:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (see cook’s note)
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup black cherry syrup (see cook’s note)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour