Tracy Dempsey's Originals' Tracy Dempsey: Caramelpalooza Candymakers 2013

As the chefs competing in Smeeks and Chow Bella's fourth annual Caramelpalooza -- coming 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, at UNION -- get out the candy thermometers, we've got our pens ready to introduce you to the faces behind the caramel.

The whimsy of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory isn't quite what you'll find at Tracy Dempsey's little kitchen in Tempe, but once she starts pulling out trays and trays of different types of gourmet desserts, it's clear that she's got some magic going. The few employees she has working with her absolutely adore her and it's easy to see why--she's a sweetheart.

While her confections range from mini tiramisu to chocolate pot de crème, her caramel-making repetoire includes Japanese shoyu, French fleur de sel, lavender, apple bourbon, spiced almond and chocolate. We know she'll pull out all the stops this year.

See Also: - Announcing the Caramel Makers for Smeeks & Chow Bella's Caramelpalooza 2013! - Tracy Dempsey: Caramelpalooza Candymakers (2011) - Churn's Monica Castillo: Caramelpalooza Candymakers

How many marshmallows can you fit in your mouth at once? Depends. How big is your marshmallow?

When I get a candy craving, I usually grab a . . . Peanut Butter Goo Goo Cluster.

Star Wars or Star Trek? Old-school Star Trek, for sure.

The best thing my mom cooks is . . . anything she sets her mind to make. She is as talented a cook as she is a quilter and painter.

When not in the kitchen, I spend most of my time . . . at my computer answering e-mails, invoicing, ordering, recipe writing, and wondering where the day went.

Is caramel coating better when drizzled or dunked? Drizzled because a soupÇon is better than a full-on.

Paddle or whisk attachment? Depends on my mood.

When I was a teenager, I had a poster of Snoopy on my wall.

My newest TV obsession is . . . The Following. It makes me want to reread Poe, Marquis de Sade, Baudelaire, etc.

I'm sick of people combining . . . bacon with chocolate.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch