Anamaria Morales is on a mission to bake her way through college, “one cheesecake at a time.”
Tangy lemon, silky espresso, creamy peanut butter, sweet strawberries, red velvet. Each month brings a menu of new flavors to whip into cream cheese — and melt the willpower of fans.
A year after launching “The College Confectionista” during her senior year at El Molino High, the spirited 19-year-old has banked more than $9,000 through baking. She hopes to more than double that amount by the time she’s ready to transfer from Santa Rosa Junior College, where she takes online classes. Her goal is to be accepted into the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley.
For now, Morales is developing her entrepreneurial chops in the kitchen, experimenting with new flavor combinations, baking everything from scratch with fresh and local ingredients. She uses Clover cream cheese, marketing through social media and in some cases, hand-delivering each $40 handcrafted masterpiece of velvety goodness.
Each cheesecake is a variation of a basic New York-style recipe, enhanced with a few tweaks of her own design.
Her Facebook page is sprinkled with retro advertising pictures of smiling housewives and winsome young lovers grabbed from mid-century magazines. The confectionista herself looks a bit like a 1950s time-traveler. A fan of all things retro, she loves to wear polka dots and handkerchiefs in her hair.
“Elvis Presley is my husband,” she jokes, “who died a long time before I was born.”
Morales grew up in Healdsburg, the daughter of Tomas and Laura Morales. She has one brother, Gabriel, 14.
Q. What prompted you to start your own business?
A. “I had been going through a hard time. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go to college. I stayed up late wondering and doing research about different colleges and ended up applying to over 20 schools because I couldn’t make up my mind. My parents, who both didn’t go to college, said maybe you don’t want to go to a four-year university right away. Maybe you want to do a gap year or travel. That got me thinking. I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I worry about college expenses. I don’t come from money, My parents had me at a young age and never started a college fund for me. I’m starting my college fund scratch.”
Q. Did you have a mentor?
A. “Chris Kelsey, the Maria Carillo grad who at 18 founded the computer software company Appsitude (that works with individuals, start-ups and companies to design, built and market apps and mobile websites.) He’s traveling to Milan and Brazil and Russia. He’s a millionaire man. I saw an article about him in the paper and was so inspired. I did a bit of stalking and found his phone number and called him and he gave me advice. It was all confusing. But I decided ‘I’m just gong to put it out there and launch this cheesecake-making business that I’d been thinking about for a few months and just see what happens.’”
Q. Why cheesecake and not cookies, cakes or pies?
A. “I’m a baking fanatic. I love to bake. And I love my sweets. I decided on cheesecake because it’s not that common. Think of cookies and you think Mrs. Fields. And everyone sells cakes. I wanted to do something unique and that was kind of divine and fancy.”