Monday, May 19, 2008

How to judge a cupcake

Vanilla's lovely display
First of all, if you're asked to judge a cupcake competition, you might want to ask how many cupcakes you'll be trying. Even when the judges at the Cupcake Invitational were told "about 30," we didn't have a sense of what that would entail until we were completely stuffed and told we were only half done with the blind tasting.
Second, consider what you might like to drink with cupcakes and take some with you just in case. Maybe coffee, or milk? Or iced tea? In any case, realize that wine and cupcakes when it's 100 degrees at 1 in the afternoon might be just a bit much. root beer cupcakes on the right were a little strange

KTLA's Sam Rubin asked what we thought the criteria should be. "Frosting." "Cake - dry or moist?" "Ratio of frosting to cake!," the judges agreed.
While some of the usual suspects (Joan's on Third, Auntie Em's, Dots) were not participating, 10 of us bloggers and foodwriters (and Sam) got a chance to try cupcakes from some lesser-known places. My favorite cupcake -- and I'm usually not really a big chocolate fan -- was the Mandarin orange chocolate cupcake from Essential Chocolate Desserts in Culver City, which reminded me of Baskin Robbins Mandarin orange chocolate sherbet. My second favorite was the Key Lime from Vanilla Bakeshop, and I think my third favorite, raspberry lemon curd, was also from Vanilla. Theirs were among the prettiest, too. maple cupcakes
The event was put on by Drink.Eat.Play, which is affiliated with Cozmo Deck, and puts on food events around the country. I'll post the winners later today.
Here's a another report from Caroline on Crack, featuring the strange pistachio/pineapple cupcakes.
And here's one from Lesley Bargar's new food blog for Los Angeles Magazine.


Anonymous said...

Judging had to be tough....After all the tasting I didn't feel like eating for days... The chocholate frosting was just too much on some of them...My pick went to the bakers in the back corner, sadly hidden. Leyna's Kitchen were the suprise bunch! They had these strawberry topped cupcakes ooozing with more flavor....My definiate vote for original and best overal. It was nice of all the bakers to let me bring a small box with seconds home! Thanks a bunch!

Anonymous said...

How could you not like those pink strawberry shortcakes. My daughter adored those. What a pefect gift they would also make on Valentines Day or Anniversaries!

Kate said...

I have waited patiently for a bakery that could cure me of my endless desire for NYC's City Bakery/Magnolia Bakery (on different days, for different reasons.)

Vanilla is that bakery. I went to Yummy Cupcakes exactly once, even though it's just as close and opened several months earlier. Sprinkles, Leda's, Joans, you name it, I've been there. Vanilla is better.

Personally, I would eat the mom's birthday cake frosting out of a cup with a spoon if they sold it. But the macaroons are also outstanding, and the wee mini desserts -- shot glasses of tiramisu, dirt cake and banana pudding (not all at the same time.)

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to set the record straight and also thank you for your comment on our cupcakes. We ended up taking 3rd for original for our Blood Orange Chocolate Fudge cupcake it was not Mandarian Orange.

Thank you just the same and glad you liked it!!! Essential Chocolate Desserts

Marni said...

i do not envy your position as a judge! i was sick enough just eating the ones i CHOSE to eat, not required to try everything. tho i did eat my weight in cupcakes. :) but i loved the event. i posted additional pics to my blog.

TaraMetBlog said...

Hey there, it was nice meeting you and judging along with you. Although it was definitely more intense than I was expecting, not that it stopped me from taking some to work the next day and starting my morning with a cupcake, lol ;)