Saturday, February 27, 2010

I failed the Cupcake Challenge

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cupcake lovers!

Two Parts Sugar = yum!

Meringue Bake Shop's chocolate goodness

Meringue Bake Shop's "Pretty Woman"

A cake of cupcakes by Polkatots

A sweetie from Frandise Pasteries

My favorite cupcakes - Salted Caramel - from Tavern

This is just a small sampling of the craziness. Notice the egg carton that someone gave us!!

I've always thought of myself as a winner. I try to be the best at everything that I do. Which is why I am so disappointed that I failed the Cupcake Challenge put on by Drink Eat Play. (See my previous post on the amazing event here). Technically, I wasn't really in the competition. The "challenge" part of the event was actually for the bakers. Each of the approximately 25 participating bakeries came ready to battle head to head against the other shops with two flavor mini cupcakes a piece. If you suck at math, like me, that is about 50 mini cupcakes. Before the event I thought, "I got this." But walking in to the ballroom I immediately felt weary. That was a LOT of cupcakes. I took fellow blogger, A and friend, T Diddy with me and we got right to it.

We were totally unprepared for what laid ahead. This was not a laid back, giggle, I heart cupcakes event. It seemed like everyone there took it very seriously. We immediately noticed that people were walking around with huge boxes filled with cupcakes and many people had big food storage containers, brought from home, to help manage the crazy amount of mini cupcakes to put to the taste test. We started at one end of the room and slowly worked our way around. I went in with no bias even though there were several Orange County bakeries in the competition. (OC born and raised baby! Holler) The OC bakeries were first up. The standouts for me were Two Parts Sugar and Meringue Bake Shop. I LOVED the cute idea for a table display that Two Parts Sugar used - One part naughty decorated with black, and one part nice decorated with pink. The pictures don't do it justice (but see more on their website)!!! It was so hard to juggle a plate with two mini cupcakes, a camera and a phone to tweet with that I didn't take as good of notes as I should have on the flavors. I do recall the amazing chocolate covered strawberry flavor though, yum! (and a winner - scroll to the end of the post for a link see all the winners). I loved Meringue Bakeshop's super creative flavors. One was a chocolate Guinness cake with a Bourbon buttercream topped with bacon - yes, you read that right and also a strawberry champagne number. I loved that her table decor really reflected the flavors.

There were some other cool things at the event such as this cupcake "cake" by Polkatots Cupcakes. I haven't seen too many of these (note one done by my neighbor that I previously posted about) done but think this is such a cute idea and a great way to take some of the stress out of serving cake at a party without doing a standard cupcake tier. I didn't catch her name, but one of the cool owners of Frandise Pasteries, Inc. had the cutest little hat!!!!! And the cupcakes didn't suck either! And the award (and my overall favorite cupcake) went to Tavern Restaurant from Los Angeles. They were sooooo pretty with an iridescent mini french macaroon and some gold leaf on top. And the flavor!!! I could really use a few more of these. They were a salted caramel but done absolutely perfectly!!! So sad they didn't bring home a prize. And there is no photo of it, but another favorite was the breakfast cupcake by My Delight Cupcakery. When we went by the table the first time, they were out of these. And we went back several times to get one but they were still out. We went by on our way out and finally snagged one. AMAZING!!! It was a buttermilk cupcake that was the perfect mix of sweet and pancakey-ness topped with maple icing and bacon...perfection!

So how did you fail, you may be wondering. I couldn't eat all the cupcakes!!!! Early on we figured out that we couldn't even finish the whole mini cupcake if we hoped to be able to try all of them. And as we neared the end, I began to not even take one if it wasn't a really unique flavor. I am not a fan of the standards like vanilla or chocolate and not really into red velvet (some may say that is cupcake blasphemy) so those were skipped straight away (but I will tell you that the Tahitian Vanilla by Tavern Restaurant was so delicious and now holds the award for my favorite vanilla cupcake ever). A low point of the event was when they ran out of water. Luckily I found more outside of the ballroom and was able to keep on truckin with the cupcakes.

This was a really fun event and I look forward to attending again next year. There is talk of renting a bus to transport people from Orange County to the event and really making an event of it. We have not settled on the best cupcake holder to help collect the entries but we will come up with something magnificent by the next event. And we will be bringing a much larger bottle of water. Those tiny cups provided were just not enough!!! The music was fun, there was a bar available and it was awesome to spend an evening sharing a love of cupcakes with good friends. I highly recommend you checking this out next year!!!

All photos by me or A but all materials belong to each respective bakery.

See all the winners at Drink Eat Play

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