Baked sweets for a good cause

It takes a real cupcake lover to stand in the rain on a cold morning in Hollywood, waiting for a chance to taste the confections of some of the most passionate cupcake bakers in Los Angeles. At the Cupcake Camp L.A. event, produced by founder Babette Pepaj, cupcake connoisseurs and amateurs alike indulged their sweet tooth with a cupcake tasting event that benefited three worthy charities.

The event was comprised of two two-hour long cupcake tastings: one from noon to 2 p.m. and a second tasting from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance fees paid for five tasting tickets, allowing attendees to choose five cupcakes of their liking to sample. Some booths had miniature cupcakes, but most had full-sized treats.

The only problem was choosing from the hundreds of different flavors offered, as the scene inside Hollywood’s Music Box Theater on Saturday was a dream come true for any cupcake fan. Tables and booths were overflowing with the sweet treats. Cupcakes large and small, ranging in flavors from the classic chocolate and vanilla to red velvet and pumpkin, filled the room. Some were topped with fruit, while others were covered in glitter.

Some bakers debuted new and unusual flavors at the charitably sweet event. The most intriguing among them was Jackie Brubaker’s Jack and Coke cupcake, with Coca-Cola-flavored cake and Jack Daniels whiskey frosting.

Where does one get the inspiration to model a cupcake after an alcoholic beverage?

“I just really love Jack and Cokes,” she said.

Apparently, her ingenuity paid off, as she was the first of the day to run out of cupcakes at the tasting.

Brandy Simon, owner of Parties and Cupcakes event planning service, got inspiration for her cupcakes for the event from something a little less 21-and-over: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

She debuted her Harry Potter-themed cupcakes, affectionately named “Fawkes’ Phoenix Rising Beignet Cupcakes” and “Hagrid’s Pumpkin and Chocolate Cauldron Cakes,” the same weekend the first part of the final movie opened in theaters.

Others used recipes passed down from generations, like Sheryl Mueller, who used her grandmother’s recipe for her “chocolate surprise” cupcakes.

“I’ve been baking since I was a kid,” she said.

Besides following in her grandmother’s culinary footsteps, Mueller also displayed a cupcake concoction of her own — a surprisingly delicious root beer float cupcake. Rather than putting the root beer in the frosting, she added it to the cake portion to give it a stronger flavor. Like most of the bakers, Mueller baked more than 250 cupcakes for the event.

All in all, 56 bakers were in attendance, all with their own original flavors and flair. Some went for chic simplicity, while others went all out, like the ladies of Sweets ‘N Treats, a cake and candy supply company.

The theme of their cupcake booth was “Happy Hour,” and they displayed cupcakes inspired by classic fruity drinks — lime margaritas, appletinis and strawberry daiquiris. Not only were the flavors imaginative, but the cupcakes themselves were decorated true to the theme, complete with little pink straws and cocktail umbrellas sticking out of the frosting.

For most of the bakers it was their first time participating in a Cupcake Camp event. But for many of them, it won’t be their last, either.

“We’re loving every minute of it,” the workers at Sweet ‘N Treats said in unison.

Although the favorite flavors of the day are subject to debate, it is obvious that the seven months of planning and preparation that host Pepaj put into the event paid off. It was Pepaj’s first time hosting a Cupcake Camp event, and she said that the day ran smoothly and everyone enjoyed the event.

Besides cupcakes, the event also had three photo booths, which uploaded pictures directly to Facebook and MySpace, as well as face painting for kids, a DJ and cupcakes for attendees to decorate themselves on the stage of the theater. Attendees were also able to vote for their favorite-tasting cupcake, and the “most L.A.” cupcake of the day, with the winning bakers receiving trophies as prizes.

Proceeds from the event went to three charities: Angel Acres Horse Rescue, and American Tortoise Rescue. Pepaj’s goal was to raise $15,000, but the actual outcome is not yet known. With a line all the way down the block of hungry cupcake fans, it seems likely that the goal was met or exceeded.

Regardless of the actual numbers, it was a sweet day for cupcake fans and charities alike.

1 reply
  1. Vivian Stone
    Vivian Stone says:

    I live in San Francisco and ordered from Sweets N Treats an amazing array of cakes, cupcakes, cookies and candies for Halloween. Yvette Gonzales (the owner) shipped everything to me Federal Express. Her carrot cake with cream cheese frosting was AMAZING! The best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten…luscious, moist, great texture and the frosting…yummy! We had a whole array of cupcakes decorated with Halloween decorations and for the World Series winner, the SF Giants. My dessert table was a smashing success! Thank you Sweets N Treats!

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