Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Iron Cupcake: San Francisco - Ingredient: Pepper!

I participated in my first Iron Cupcake challenge on Monday night, and the special ingredient this month was PEPPER! Black or red, it didn't matter. There were over 100 people who came out to taste, not all were cupcake engineers, but they were all definitely fans of the baby cakes. The monthly Iron Cupcake: San Francisco Challenge, is held at the Leland Tea Co., and is open to the public for free (although beginning next month, there will be a $5 door charge, but totally worth it).

Seriously, pepper. Who puts pepper in their cupcakes? Now that was a challenge. Was I stressed? ...I mean, um, a little bit...posting on Twitter and Facebook, asking people for pepper cupcake advice and suggestions the weeks before. I finally took a little from each person, and created the following:

Cayenne Chocolate Zinger Cake: Chocolate, cayenne pepper, serrano pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg. Frosting:Cayenne pepper and pumpkin spice buttercream with a sprinkle of paprika.

Description: A taste of the seasons changing from Summer to Autumn. The cayenne pepper gives a sharp kick when you first bite in, while the scent of pumpkin spice buttercream frosting sweetens the aroma. Then the sharp cayenne bite is cut by dark chocolate and fragrant cinnamon. Once the cake is gone, the serrano pepper brightens up, then lingers slightly to close out the cake.

No discrimination here... Black pepper, red pepper, chile pepper, and even the Doctor...

I almost felt sorry for those who walked in randomly, without knowing the theme. But only a little bit, because once the tastings started, it was obvious how much thought and planning went into engineering each of these baby cakes.

With 30 cupcake entries and varieties, it was quite the colorful feast of miniature indulgences blanketing every inch of the cafe's counter and back tables. Chelsea, founder of Kingdom Cakes and Iron Cupcake progenitor said there were "over 30 entries cramming as much pepper possible into a cupcake." And that was unmistakably the theme for the evening.

Can you imagine eating every single one of these? I didn't think so. This was one of each of every cupcake baked. Yes, best to bring a partner, or maybe two or three.

If you're a foodie, if you love cupcakes, or have a massive sweet tooth, this is the event for you. I mean, who can resist a ton of free cupcakes?! There were so many mini cupcakes to taste, it was nearly impossible to finish them all.

More photos below for your enjoyment, and please come out to support next month's Iron Cupcake challenge... SQUASH!

Cupcakes were tasted by everyone attending (even the non-bakers), and judged on Taste and Presentation.

Cupcake engineers came early to set up their creations. Beautiful cupcake tiers and displays covered the counter at Leland Tea Co.

Ginger, mango, peppermint... all flavors lending support to the beloved pepper.

It's so tempting to watch the bakers display their wares. How can you not reach out and grab one?

Presentation was key. Glorious baby cakes stacked gently next to each other.

Kingdom Cake (by Chelsea) had sparkly, glittery spicy chocolate cupcakes, and set the bar for presentation.

A dragon cake was spitting red cupcake fire, placed right next to the refreshing Pepper Peach Pandemonium.

The Iron Cupcake Grand Prize winner: Pepper Peach Pandemonium!

Oooh... Pepper Bacon Maple Cupcake with Pepper Maple frosting!

The little tea cafe was packed with cupcake connoisseurs, reaching temperatures around 80 degrees, melting not only some of the cupcakes, but the participants as well.

Oh baby! Mid-action shot... guess where his hand landed right after this?

Chelsea begins the competition and announces rules and procedures.

Cupcake tasters cast their votes, placing ballots in each cup.

Chelsea and friend counting and tallying every single vote... all 1,200+ of them!
(30 cupcakes, at least 40 votes each)

The aftermath.

Waiting for the tallying and cupcake winner to be announced.

Chelsea finalizes the counts, presents the prizes, including some wonderful Wilton baking products, Leland Tea's Iron Cupcake Blend Tea, and a variety of other cupcake-related delights.

Winners of the Iron Cupcake: Pepper challenge -- Pepper Peach Pandemonium

Chelsea and me!

Cayenne Chocolate Zingers!

1 comment:

  1. Hey jeannie, I think I may have finally recovered from my cup cake coma. Was nice to meet you that night as we scarfed up all sorts of peppery goodness. Look forward to trying your next creation. Now that I know what the competition is like, i'll be better prepared and not attempt such a delicate frosting.

    - Richard