Monday, March 30, 2009

2009 L.A. Cupcake Challenge Leaves a Pleasing Aftertaste

Delilah Bakery

The much hyped 2009 L.A. Cupcake Challenge sponsored by Nesquik happened yesterday and in two words: 5 stars. I had so much fun. And not just because I brought a whole posse with me. My mom flew in for the weekend, my sister and her fiance attended, my first cousin and her boyfriend, and a bunch of friends and coworkers.

Part of the ballot

My coworker's shoe

It took place at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, a perfect venue for the occasion. There was plenty of space to roam and sit and the cupcake booths lined the perimeter of the ballroom. The Nesquik bunny was there, posing for photos and handing out regular and mini sized versions of Chocolate and Strawberry Milk. A photobooth was stationed at one corner of the room allowing for unlimited corny photos with friends to be taken.

My sister Beth and me with the Nesquik Bunny

Flavor Feelings

I attended last year's Cupcake Challenge and learned a few things to make this year's experience more enjoyable (which seems hard to do when last year's was awesome). Namely, I learned not to eat whole cupcakes if I wanted to make it through all 37 flavors. And as a judge this year, I felt it my responsibility to try every single cupcake if my vote was going to be fair. Slow and steady wins the race. I was there the entire 3 hours in order to eat so many sweets. But I did it.

And on top of that, I broke my own rule: I fell in love with two cupcakes and ate the entire darned things, not sparing the tiniest crumb. The first time that happened, it was for Susie Cakes' Pineapple Upside Down Cake, and the second time, it was for Buttercake Bakery's Chocolate.

Susie Cakes Pineapple Upside Down - out of this world!

Buttercake Bakery Chocolate - again, out of this world!

While those were the only two cupcakes I gobbled up completely, there were plenty of others that caught my attention...The Lavender cupcake from Melli Belli was wonderfully moist and full of lavender flavor. The Coconut cupcake from Blue Cupcake made me want to order a full-sized 9 or 10-inch round layer cake for my next party. And the Chocolate Dipped Strawberry from Charmed Cupcakes had a perfect crumb, a strong chocolate flavor, and yummy pieces of strawberry in the cake, not to mention an attractive presentation with star-shaped chocolate candies stuck into the frosting. Miss Priss Cupcakes had an excellent banana chocolate chip cupcake named Monkey Bites and was, in my opinion, one of the prettiest ones to look at. Oinkster/Boho's Chocolate Bread Pudding was certainly memorable, though denser than I'm used to for a cupcake. As for booth decor, I was really impressed with Delilah Bakery's outdoor garden motif. All in all, it was an amazing afternoon of cupcake overload.

Melli Belli Lavender and Gingerbread cupcakes

Blue Cupcake Coconut and Chocolate cupcakes

Blue Cupcake Coconut cupcake display

Sugar Jones Blackberries & Cream

Miss Priss Cupcakes Monkey Bites

Two Parts Sugar Raspberry Red Velvet

Hotcakes Bakes Strawberry Cupcakes

Oinkster/Boho Chocolate Bread Pudding

Charmed Cupcakes Chocolate Dipped Strawberry and Red Velvet

Another important lesson I learned from last year is that bringing Tupperware is a VERY good idea. Many of the booths had leftover cupcakes at the end of the event and were happy to fill your boxes and bags if you had them. Plus, it's such a shame to throw out half of a wonderful cupcake simply because you can't eat 37 full cupcakes in one sitting. So Wise Marni brought a container this year and saved halfsies and a few more wholes for the road. I'll need a week to recover from the sugar coma, but then I'm sure I'll be able to dig right in.

Someone's makeshift "Tupperware" filled with whole cupcakes

Hats off to another successful Cupcake Challenge. It was well organized and the quality and range of bakeries was impressive. It's no wonder the place was packed, tickets were sold out, and blogs and news organizations spotlighted the event.

One of many trips to the booths

Judge's Wardrobe

In my last blog post, I asked you if it would be ok for me to wear the same shirt as I wore last year. The shirt read, "Make Cupcakes Not War." Many of you said it would be just fine and I was all set to wear it again, but with some time to spare hours before the Cupcake Challenge, I decided to return to Johnny Cupcakes on Melrose in West Hollywood and find myself a new wardrobe.

First of all, I decided on a really fun one - no words this time, just an image of stemmed flowers but with cupcakes as blossoms. I'm glad I decided to change shirts; I spotted a handful of people at the event with my last year's shirt.

Also, I can't get over how FUN this t-shirt store is! The place is decorated like a bakery, even though there's nothing edible inside. Glass display cases show off t-shirts, and retro ovens line the walls and randomly open so fake steam can blow out. You have got to visit their store sometime, and at the very least, visit their cool website designed to be an oven. I'm hooked on Johnny Cupcakes and will probably end up there again for a 2010 L.A. Cupcake Challenge costume change. :-)

Johnny Cupcakes store on Melrose in West Hollywood

Retro ovens on the wall at Johnny Cupcakes open randomly and let fake steam out!

**Note: Because votes could be submitted up until the very end of the event, winners were not announced at the event. They will be tallied and announced soon, but you're going to have to wait!

**Update: Winners have been announced! See my next blog post.

10 comments:

Mom said...

I was so happy to be in town for the LA Cupcake Challenge! Your review of the event was fun for me to relive the event. I hope it's repeated next year. By then I should be ready for a gluttony of new cupcakes!

Vice Girl said...

what a great roundup! it looks like so much fun. that pineapple cupcake sounds wonderful - i make a pineapple inside-out cake that i will be converting to cupcakes now!

Zach Landes said...

How many cupcakes did you eat in total, if you combine halfs and thirds? Miss piggy!

Marni said...

Mom - It was so special to have you in town to share this with! Good thing we ran a race Saturday morning to partially justify eating so many cupcakes!

Vice Girl - Thanks! Wish you could have been there. Let me know how your pineapple cupcake turns out. Then bring one to my office, k?

Zach - I think I ate parts of 35 cupcakes and two whole mini cupcakes. Sometimes the parts were a single bite, sometimes they were half a cupcake. Not sure what the equivalent of all that is in normal sized cupcake metrics. But one thing's for sure, I could give birth to a cupcake tomorrow!

Justin Thorp said...

I think my teeth started decaying during the course of reading the blog post.

Sounds like an amazing event.

julie desmeules said...

Hi Marni,good to meet you and your mom yesterday! Can I ask your permission to please use the picture of my cupcakes on my blog? Many thanks :)

Hilary said...

I wanted to do this so badly, but unfortunately Weight Watchers and unemployment got in the way. Probably for the best.

I'm so glad you liked Buttercake Bakery--I think they are one of the best shops in town, and it's nice to see them get some recognition. And they're opening another location, this time in West Hollywood. Yay!

ctjhia said...

I am truly impressed that you succeeded in tasting each and every cupcake at the event!! Love the pics!

P.S. That Melrose store looks sooooo neat! I like your new cupcake shirt :)

Jen* said...

Yummmm. I really have to attend this next year.

Marni said...

Justin - Brush your teeth right away!

Julie - I emailed you. And also, congrats on winning one of the cupcake titles!

Hilary - I cannot believe Buttercake Bakery did not win a title at the event. It was one of the most amazing cupcakes I've ever tasted!

ctjhia - Thanks! It's certainly no small feat to eat that many! And I'm glad you liked the tee. There were so many I wanted to buy!

Jen - I really hope there is a 2010 Cupcake Challenge! If so, I will see you there!

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