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updated: 10/24/2013 5:29 AM

Round Lake mom wins Reflejos Sweet Creations dessert contest

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  • Video: Reflejos' Sweet Creations

  • Master of ceremony Rosa Salazar holds the microphone for winner Diana Menchaca during the Reflejos Sweet Creations cooking contest Wednesday at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Schaumburg. With her are two of the judges, Julian Crews, left, a WGN anchor and founder of Old Havana Foods and Omar Martinez, of the Food Network Challenge.

       Master of ceremony Rosa Salazar holds the microphone for winner Diana Menchaca during the Reflejos Sweet Creations cooking contest Wednesday at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Schaumburg. With her are two of the judges, Julian Crews, left, a WGN anchor and founder of Old Havana Foods and Omar Martinez, of the Food Network Challenge.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Winner Diana Menchaca of Round Lake listens to the praises of judge Julian Crews, a WGN anchor, as fellow judge, Chef Omar Martinez, of the Food Network Challenge waits to speak during the Reflejos Sweet Creations cooking contest Wednesday at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Schaumburg.

       Winner Diana Menchaca of Round Lake listens to the praises of judge Julian Crews, a WGN anchor, as fellow judge, Chef Omar Martinez, of the Food Network Challenge waits to speak during the Reflejos Sweet Creations cooking contest Wednesday at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Schaumburg.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Hojarascas cookies prepared by Diana Menchaca of Round Lake, winner of the Reflejos Sweet Creations cooking contest Wednesday at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Schaumburg.

       Hojarascas cookies prepared by Diana Menchaca of Round Lake, winner of the Reflejos Sweet Creations cooking contest Wednesday at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Schaumburg.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

Diana Menchaca started to shake when her name was announced as the Reflejos Sweet Creations winner Wednesday night.

"I can't believe it. Are you sure it's me?'" she said, as she walked up to accept the $500 first prize check.

Menchaca, a 38-year-old mother of two from Round Lake, beat out 11 other finalists with her butter and cinnamon Mexican hojarascas cookies to win the amateur dessert making contest.

A panel of celebrity judges -- Food Network chef Omar Martinez, WGN News anchor and founder of Old Havana Foods, Julian Crews, and Azteca Bakery chain owner Alfredo Sanchez -- chose Menchaca as the winner during the finals party Wednesday at the Best Western Plus Hotel & Conference Center in Schaumburg.

The dessert by Rosa Prado, of Schaumburg, was the runner-up.

The judges sampled desserts from Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico, but said Menchaca's cookies stood out from the rest.

"They had a really nice texture and flavor," Martinez said.

Menchaca, speaking through a Spanish translator, said her cookie recipe comes from Coahuila, Mexico, where her mother would bake these cookies on special occasions to celebrate Jesus Christ.

As part of her prize, she'll be interviewed about her cookies on ESPN Desportes 1220 am Radio.

"My family and friends already order cookies from me for parties, so maybe I will consider doing this more now," she said.

Sweet Creations was created this year by Reflejos as part of a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The contest was open to amateur bakers using original or family dessert recipes.

The family-friendly evening featured dance performances, live bachata music, a DJ and dancing. Kids in the audience picked the winning tickets for the raffle prizes, including tickets to the upcoming George Lopez show.

"This was a great event for the Latino community," said Linda Siete, Reflejos manager of sales and operations.

"Food is such an integral part of the community ... so we're going to build on this event again next year."

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