Sunday, February 21, 2010

2010 Nesquik Cupcake Challange

Can you say "sugar rush"??? That is exactly what we walked in to when we arrived at the 2010 Nesquik Cupcake Challenge, held at the Hollywood Renassiance Hotel in Hollywood Saturday afternoon.

My friend Dawn (Desserts by Dawn) and I arrived shortly after the doors opened, checked in at the door, and away we went!

After being handed a bottle of chocolate milk by a giant Nesquik rabbit, we made our way inside. We quickly realized we were in trouble! First, because there were LOTS of cupcakes to sample, and second because we were clearly totally unprepared Cupcake Challenge virgins. A glance around the ballroom revealed a lot of people who had been there before and were prepared with various kinds of cupcake carrying equipment. We saw everything from fancy plastic cupcake carriers and disposable takeout containers to box lids and used cake boxes snapped up from the exhibitors as they emptied their cupcakes onto their display tables. Which was exactly what we did.

Armed with our ballots, we started out. Our first samples were from the The Cake House - a yummy red velvet cupcake dipped in ganache, and a cranberry orange cupcake, which is one of my top 3 favorites. The ballots were divided into 2 categories - "Traditional" and "Original" so many of the bakeries had entered one (or more) in each category. This means there are now at least double the amount of cupcakes to eat than we thought! This is when we knew we were in trouble, and went looking for a "carrier". We started off snagging a large box lid, but as we went from booth to booth loading up, it became unstable and wobbly, making our lovely little bites of sugary goodness tip over and touch each other, mixing frostings into unwanted combinations. We managed to grab some plastic clamshell style mini-cupcake carriers (thank you My Delight Cupcakery!) and life got somewhat easier. Thank you, Dawn for carrying them all afternoon!

Our second stop was Charmed Cupcakes. They were handing out FULL SIZE cupcakes! Red Velvet, Chocolate and Blueberry. What were they thinking?? This is where we decided we needed to sit and eat, and finally managed to find an open seat. This is also where the thought of eating a bazillion more cupcakes sort of lost its shine. Our tablemates were crossing their eyes too, while chewing on whatever flavors they had collected, and looking like they were going to pop. But, being strong, went swallowed, washed it down with a big swig of chocolate milk, and ventured on.

We saw dazzling displays of beautifully decorated mini cupcakes, custom cupcake stands and towers, and very clever displays, We met the bakers whose blogs we follow and admire, and put faces to the names we had just read about. Some we names we had heard of and watched on FoodNetwork, and others were local celebrities.

Some of the cupcakes we tasted were awesome, like the Banana Caramel from Jus Minis, the Orange Cranberry from The Cake Shop, and the Coconut from Friandise Pasteries. One of the not-so favorites was a chocolate bacon cupcake with some kind of whiskey flavored frosting. This one mini, 3 bite cupcake was spit out by both of us, my husband, and even some critter that ripped into my garbage outside, eating left over sushi but spitting the remaining blob of this cupcake on the cement. There were several of the breakfast/bacon-maple cupcakes offered by several bakeries. I don't think I have tried those samples yet.

I think it will be several days before I make my way through everything I brought home. I have several red velvet cupcakes, vanilla throwback cupcakes, key lime cupcakes, lavender vanilla cup cakes, pumpkin white chocolate, strawberry shortcake, sticky toffee pudding, hot chocolate, carrot cake, bananas foster, sunday mimosa, fall spice, lucky charm, rose petal, pumpkin, salted caramel, chocolate chip cookie dough, spiced apple with brown sugar, chocolate covered strawberry, breakfast cake, maple bacon, chocolate coconut, vanilla bean almond dream, chocolate vanilla swirl, Amaretto Sour, wedding cupcake, and even more! Some of the flavors have left me guessing, like Irish Car Bomb, Pretty Woman, Little Penguin and Pigs on Tap, but I'm looking forward to them all!

The only question now remains . . . who won the challenge?? I will let you know as soon as votes are tallied and the winner is announced. Until then, we are looking forward to next year's challenge and finding our own perfect cupcake carrier!

** UPDATE **
Announcing the Winners!

Best Traditional
1st Place: Big Man Bakes “Red Velvet”
2nd Place: Blue Cupcake “Sweet and Salty Vanilla”
3rd Place: Southern Girl Desserts “Red Velvet”

Best Original
1st Place: My Delight Cupcakery “Breakfast Cake”
2nd Place: Jus Minis “Caramel Banana”
3rd Place: Two Parts Sugar “Chocolate Covered Strawberry”

Best Overall
1st Place: Jus Minis “Caramel Banana”
2nd Place: My Delight Cupcakery “Breakfast Cake”
3rd Place: Two Parts Sugar “Chocolate Covered Strawberry”

You can also see Dan Silberstein’s LA Cupcake Challenge 2010 flickr set (here).
Congratulations to all the winners!

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