Will judge for cupcakes
Sunday, November11th, cupcake enthusiasts fled to the 3rd Annual Cupcake Love-in held at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale. The event raised funds and household items for Project H3: Vets, an organization that fights to end veteran homelessness.
I was asked to judge this year alongside four other women: Rachel Bussel (Founder Cupcakes Take the Cake Blog), Carrie Middlemiss (Organizer of Seattle Cupcake Camp and Owner, Bella Cupcake Couture), Amee Hodge (Chef and Food Stylist who also offers cooking classes inside your own home!), and guest judge Erica Shoaf (winner of the Cupcake Crazies competition on Facebook).
From the experience I had, I’d have to say the execution of the event was nearly flawless. Entrance lines were short, there were lots of fun activities for families and children (face painting, a photo booth and cupcake decorating), room to mingle without bumping elbows, and seating in the Yelp Lounge so you wouldn’t have to walk and eat.
The judge’s table sat above the raffle display where local goodies got plenty of ooh’s and ahh’s from hopefuls holding handfuls of raffle tickets.
As the competition began, we got a rundown of our judging criteria for each of the four cupcake categories: Best Use of the Secret Ingredient (Popcorn) (Winner: Santa Barbara Catering), Best Classic Cupcake (Winner: Santa Barbara Catering), Best Tasting Frosting (Winner: Gigi’s Cupcakes), and Best Savory Cupcake (Winner: Bourbon Steak).
Entries were presented on a platter with their corresponding number. To keep it fair, no branding, descriptions or labels were allowed as it was truly a blind tasting.
After 24 cupcakes, I had had my fill of sugar! How did I manage all of those beauties? By taking teeny tiny bites and slipping bites from the snack bag of salty chips I snuck in. Though it’s a big no-no, I couldn’t have made my way through all that sugar without shocking my taste buds with a twinge of salt every now and then!
Contestants who took away winning titles were all of my favorites! Personal standouts for me included Santa Barbara Catering’s entry (and winning cupcake) in the ‘Best Use of the Secret Ingredient’ category with its not-too-sweet cupcake topped with popcorn brittle and popcorn toffee. It was every bit as good as it looked:
And, this spin on a ‘classic’ dessert: A banana split in cupcake form. It had all the components you’d expect: A banana cupcake topped with strawberry frosting, drizzled with chocolate and caramel, sprinkled with crunchy peanuts and finished with a cherry on top:
I’ll probably have dreams about this ooey-gooey deliciousness – buttery caramel sauce drenched this cupcake in such a good way. Add in the crunchy toasted pecans and welcome to heaven:
Another standout that I found very different from all the rest was this Strawberry Thyme Cupcake from Santa Barbara Catering. It was so light and fresh that I really appreciated the respite from the sugary-sweet selections. The hint of thyme and addition of dehydrated strawberries as the garnish was lovely:
The ‘Best Tasting Frosting’ category carried a few of my favorites of the afternoon. This unsuspecting little guy had such a rich and creamy, not overly sweet frosting that I could’ve eaten with a spoon:
A definite favorite and the winner in the ‘Best Tasting Frosting’ category was Gigi’s Cupcakes’ Cookie Dough Cupcake that spoke to my raw cookie dough addiction:
Can’t forget about the whoopie! These salty and sweet whoopie pies were a crowd favorite. More, please.
And lastly, something must be said for Bourbon Steak’s entry in ‘Best Savory Cupcake’… a foie gras creation. (Yup, you read that right):
Huge thanks goes out to the event organizers for orchestrating such an awesome event and letting me be a part of it!
Check out more photos from Cupcake Love-in on our Facebook page.