Culinary Arts Student Bakes Beautiful Cake
Tags: cheesecake | Cindy Klayman | Culinary Arts | Joliet | Zharia Finley

Culinary Arts Student Bakes Beautiful Cake

Zharia Finley's two-layer cheesecake included a bittersweet chocolate glaze.

Zharia Finley really wanted to bake.

But she was a little afraid.

Growing up, the 16-year-old Joliet Job Corps Center student had always watched her grandmother make cakes – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry.

“It looked so fun!” she said.

But she was afraid to try it herself.

“If it didn’t taste good, or it didn’t look right, I would have cried,” she said. As a young Culinary Arts student, failing would have chipped away at her her confidence.

Nevertheless, she decided to give it a try at the beginning of October. After all, it was time. Zharia had reached the end of the baking unit in her Culinary Arts studies and was required to make one. So chef and instructor Cindy Klayman issued a challenge: tackle the recipe for a chocolate chiffon cake.

Zharia declined. The recipe included gelatin and simply sounded too hard.

Then she had a brainstorm.

“What if I made a chocolate cheesecake?” she asked, explaining that she liked to eat a slice every year on her birthday.

Zharia researched recipes, finally choosing one that had a base layer of plain cheesecake topped with a layer of chocolate cheesecake.

“She put it together exclusively on her own,” Klayman said. “She found the recipe and checked to make sure we had the ingredients in stock. She really followed protocol.”

Zharia constructed the cake on Thursday, carefully baking it in a water bath. On Friday, she topped it with a chocolate glaze. When it was finished, the cake was beautiful: round, firm and surrounded by a graham cracker crust.

“It tastes really, really good,” Klayman said.

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