Monday, April 12, 2010

And that's all they wrote!

CupcakeCamp NYC is now in the history books, but I wanted to take a moment to quickly thank all of you who participated this year. Also, we have the all important business of announcing this year's contest winners...

Only in its second year, CupcakeCamp NYC grew from 230 attendees in 2009 to almost 800 participants in 2010. That's a lot of growth if you ask me. We were stoked with the turn out and are already brainstorming ideas on how to make the 2011 event better. For example, we are brainstorming ways on how to handle a better baker to eater ratio for next year. In 2009 we threw away quite a few cupcakes at the end of the night, but this year, we ran out before 8:30 p.m. As someone who hates throwing away food and was excited to not have any waste at the end of the night, I still understand that some eaters were disappointed that we ran out of cupcakes.

This brings me to my next point. As the producer, I think it's important I explain the point of CupcakeCamp once again as I have received a rather nasty e-mail from an attendee that I would like to publicly address. CupcakeCamp is completely community driven. There is a team that handles the back end organization part of the event, but we rely on the community to actually MAKE the event i.e. bring cupcakes. The only people that make any money off of CupcakeCamp NYC are the owners of Happy Ending and that is only through alcohol sales since they are generous enough to let us use their space for free. As the event producer, I make absolutely nothing off of the CupcakeCamp NYC name. None of the bakers who graciously bring cupcakes make a profit. So, it's fair to say that nothing pisses me off more than someone complaining about how they didn't get any free cupcakes at a completely free event that they didn't contribute to in the least bit. It makes me angry on behalf of the bakers that worked so hard to make CupcakeCamp awesome, to the folks at Happy Ending that handle everything from bartending to clean-up duties without a single complaint, and yes, it makes me angry personally for the late nights I've spent making Excel sheets and answering hundreds of e-mails every day. It's sad that someone can complain about an event centered on something as fun as cupcakes, but that's life.

With this in mind, my goal is to make CupcakeCamp 2011 even more amazing and fun just to prove the author of the nasty e-mail I received wrong. So you better believe I'm already planning for an event that is about 365 days away.

Now, onto to the more important business at hand: the winners of our design contest and the Best in Show competition.

I'm happy to announce that Anny Cakes is the winner of our design competition. Her sparkly cupcakes were almost too beautiful to eat (even though our judges devoured them). As the winner of this contest, we'll be giving away a copy of The Icing on the Cupcake by Jennifer Ross and Martha Stewart's Cupcakes by Martha Stewart.

Best in Show went to Audrey Criss from New Jersey with her spice cake cupcakes topped with whipped cream cheese frosting. All six of our judges were in cupcake heaven upon tasting Audrey's creation and decided that for CupcakeCamp 2010, she deserved Best in Show. 

On a personal note, I chatted to Audrey at the event and she shared that her dream is to open up her own bakery in New Jersey. I was beyond pleased to award Audrey the Best in Show prize and believe that this woman is going to succeed in the bakery business. To be blunt: Girl can bake!

Also, special shout out to Kathy "Metalcakes" Bejma for putting together the Best in Show prize. It was amazingly cool and I know everyone was impressed with your efforts!

To all the other bakers, the judges each told me that it was a hard decision to narrow down the cupcakes and that everyone should be proud of their submissions. As a baker myself, I understand how much hard work and effort goes into everything you put in your oven, and I can't express how much it means to me that you wanted to share your passion with CupcakeCamp NYC.

I also want to thank our sponsors and special friends for attending. Jennifer Ross and Elizabeth Bellanti from Austin, TX, Kathy Bejma and her mom from Chicago (you might have met Kathy's mom downstairs - she was the awesome lady selling her knit cupcakes!), Jennifer Appel and the Buttercup Bakeshop Crew (we also owe them a big high-five for supplying the Cupcake Cocktail at the bar!), the lovely ladies at Clarkson Potter who donated copies of Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, and last but not least, the guys at Happy Ending for helping me with everything from set up to clean-up. You guys rule on so many levels. Also, a special shout out for all our judges and volunteers - you make my life so much easier. I wish I could take you all on a trip to Hawaii for your efforts!

Lastly, if you have photos from the event, please upload them to our Facebook group page!

See you in 2011!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cookbook paradise at CupcakeCamp NYC

Do you love cookbooks? Are you attending CupcakeCamp NYC this Friday, April 9th? If so, bring some extra cash and/or good luck charms because we're going to have foodie books galore to give and for sale.

The wonderful team at Clarkson Potter are going to be on hand, and they are bringing two copies of Martha Stewart's Cupcakes with them, which we'll be giving away to two lucky cupcakers. We've also got copies of The Icing on the Cupcake by Jennifer Ross to give way to two attendees, and Jennifer will be on hand to sell her book and sign copies as well. Buttercup Bake Shop are bringing copies of their various cookbooks too - we weren't kidding when we said it's going to be a cookbook paradise.

And for those of you that need a little inspiration for your cupcake recipes this Friday, we've got a great recipe to share with you. The ladies at Clarkson Potter e-mailed us an amazing Meyer lemon cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes - happy baking!

Martha’s Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

The mild and sweet flavor of Meyer lemon is one of Martha’s favorites; these -zest--flecked cupcakes are filled with Meyer lemon curd, which peeks out from the tops. The fruit, which is actually a -lemon--orange hybrid, is generally available at specialty stores in winter and early spring. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, use regular lemons instead. The recipe yields a lot of cupcakes, so you may want to consider these for a bake sale or large gathering, such as a shower or special birthday celebration. makes 42

3 1/2 cups -all--purpose flour, sifted
2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice (from 1 to 2 Meyer lemons)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2teaspoons coarse salt 
1 3/4 cups ( 3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
7 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting 
Lemon Curd (made with Meyer lemons; below)

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, zest, baking powder, and salt.

2. With an electric mixer on -medium--high speed, cream butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in cream cheese. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in lemon juice and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, beating until just combined after each.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each -three--quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

4. To finish, dust cupcakes with confectioners’ sugar. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and a medium round tip (#8) with curd. Insert tip into top of each cupcake, and squeeze some curd below top to fill the inside, then lift the tip and squeeze more curd in a pool on top. Filled cupcakes can be kept at room temperature up to 1 hour (or refrigerated a few hours more) before serving.
Lemon Curd
A high proportion of lemon juice gives curd its intense flavor. As an acid, the juice also prevents the yolks from curdling when heated (unlike when making pastry cream, which requires the extra step of tempering). You can substitute an equal amount of juice from other citrus, such as lime, grapefruit, or blood orange. makes about 2 cups.

2 whole eggs plus 8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature

Combine whole eggs and yolks, sugar, and lemon juice in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Strain through a fine sieve into another bowl, and cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap, pressing it directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).