Thursday, February 17, 2011

Judging Iron Cupcake Toronto

If you are friends with me or Piccante Dolce on Facebook or follow me on Twitter you may have seen me rabidly campaigning last week, with help from the Boy and my brother, to win a spot as a judge in the Iron Cupcake Toronto Competition.  Redpath Sugar was running a contest to get two judges for the competition where the secret ingredient was Chocolate.

I arrived to For the Love of Cake's Liberty Village location on Sunday afternoon and was directed across the hall and upstairs to a snazzy common room that was teeming with contestants and supporters.  I met Genevieve the Head Deisgner & Owner of the cupcake shop and the person running the competition.

Luckily I was early so I was able to go through and take some pictures of the displays.  I was shocked and impressed by how elaborate many of the displays were and was given a clue how much I'd need to step it up if I ever wanted to compete on this stage.

I then made my way over to the judges table where I met Hayley, the new head baker at For the Love of Cake.  Since I had never been to the bakeshop, I chatted with her a bit about their offerings and her previous experience.  Then my co-winner on facebook Siobhan arrived.  We all chatted as we waited for the judging to begin.  Matt, a former Iron Cupcake contestant, rounded out our judging panel.

I'm not going to give away how we each judged, but here are what we were asked to judge:

1.  We first walked along the table of displays and rated them on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best.

2.  We were then each given 5 of the 20 cupcakes and were asked to choose which we liked the best.  We were asked to keep in mind since chocolate was the secret ingredient they wanted the most creative or original chocolate cupcake.

3.  We were then given a sample of each of our 4 favorites and then ranked them on tasty and originality.

The whole thing was alot tougher than I thought it would be.  Especially on the taste side of things because there were some flavor combination that I just didn't love and no matter what wouldn't have liked.  Then there were cupcakes that had an interesting flavor but the cake was dry.  So do you go with original flavor or best cake?  I went with the best cake on my plate.

The four finalists were:

A Whole Lotta Rosie - a chocolate chai tea spiced cupcake with Milk Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing spiked with pomegranate molasses (I didn't get a great photo of this one)

Salted Dark Chocolate -  a delightful debauchery chocolate cupcake with a salted chocolate ganache center and a cream peanut butter frosting

French Kiss - dark chocolate cupcake with a surprise Kiss caramel candy and whipped cream butterscotch pudding

Dante's Delight - a rich chocolate cupcake with cinnamon chips and cayenne pepper, topped with a cinnamon roasted marshmallow frosting

They were all delicious and had great displays but a winner had to be chosen and it was the French Kiss!  The combination of the smooth & creamy butterscotch icing and the caramel made for a winning combination.

The People's Choice was my own personal favorite for display, I mean how gorgeous and though out is this display?!  From the sugar cookie chess board to the eat me cookie on the cupcake, it was an amazing well-thought out and designed display.

It was really great to see all of the people who came out to support their friends and family in the competition.  The people behind our Salted Dark Chocolate finalist was Team Coleman, with the baker rocking an adorable red & white apron and all of her supporters in red t-shirts with Coleman Cupcakes emblazoned on them.  They were definitely spirited and I'm sure their support was appreciated by the baker.

All in all it was a really great experience, fun to meet new people and even more fun tasting all of the treats.  Oh and it didn't hurt getting this awesome Redpath Sugar Basket and a dozen Cake Balls from For the Love of Cake.  But I really hope that I'll get the opportunity to judge again sometime.

If you ever have a reason to  be in the Liberty Village Neighborhood, I highly recommend stopping into For the Love of Cake to taste the grasshopper cakeballs and the Guinness Chocolate Mancakes.

For more info on Iron Cupcake Toronto and the winners from last weekend, go to the For the Love of Cake's blog


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