Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Iron Cupcake--Caramel

Lunchbox and candy prize, the cat helped me win!
 Congratulations to our
October 2012
Iron Cupcake SF Winners:
*1st Place: Cupcake #2,
 Tania F.- Stroopwafel
*2nd Place: Cupcake #5,
Brigitte B.-Caramel Spiced Cheescake
*Most Creative: Cupcake #4,
Erin S.- Bananas Foster
*Bakers' Choice: Cupcake #3,
Dana G.- Salted Chocolate Caramel
*Best Costume- Angela M***

***YES This Angela! Me. Yay, candy!!

This event, where "Cupcake Engineers" prepare for a throwdown to win one of several prizes happens at Leland Tea Company in the Polk Gulch area of SF. Iron Cupcake made quite a splash on the scene when it first began, and it's still pretty popular. I recently joined their Meetup group, and when they announced that the ingredient du jour was Caramel, well, here is my $10 and gimme, thank you very much! JK and I have talked a few times about participating in an Iron Cupcake event, but I like to check the layout and organization of things before diving in (sometimes). So here's how it goes for a taster/judge at the Iron Cupcake event.

The competitors:

Samoa--Coconut Caramel Chocolate cupcake #1

Stroopwafel--Cinnamon caramel  cupcake #2

#3-Salted Caramel Corn

Bananas Foster--Banana cupcake "filled with caramel" #4

Caramel Spice Cheesecake--ginger caramel cake #5

As a judge/taster your responsibility is to score the cupcakes on various qualifiers. A representative from your table of 4 tasters takes your tray to the cupcake display area and then all mini cupcakes are cut into 4 pieces for the initial tasting. There can be up to 20 to 30 cupcakes to taste, but the general consensus was that most bakers may have been recovering from the Giants World Series Win the night before and couldn't be bothered to bring their 'A' game to cupcakes which is why there were only five entries. However, that meant we got to taste more of the 5 cupcakes that were on offer instead of being cupcaked out after the first tasting of each. So after we tasted numbers 1-5 (one person allergic to nuts abstained from number #3), we were able to savor  whichever cupcakes we thought needed another "taste" test.

We marked our votes on the paper and sipped more tea while we waited for the votes to be tabulated. There was a big discussion on the difference between muffins and cupcakes. Is there one anymore? (Tea Time doesn't think so... all "muffins" are really big no frosting cupcakes in disguise these days.) What makes a muffin a Muffin? Any ideas out there? Feel free to comment. We also talked some about sports, but managed to avoid (pre-election)politics. More cupcakes were eaten, then finally the votes were tallied and *surprise* a costume contest was announced!

Our tasting tray, with cupcakes cut into 4 pieces each.

The aftermath of tasting.

There weren't many people in costumes, 4 people total out of the 30 some people in attendance. I was glad the cavewoman didn't have a club (plus a bit more personality) she could have stolen the show. Luck was on my side, and I won a nice metal lunch box with retro candy inside! Then the cupcake winners were announced (listed at top of this post) and given their prizes which were similar to mine, with the lunchbox+candy, but had kitchen tools included. (Such as a fancy wisk, rolling pin, etc). Then there were lots of photo ops.  Iron Cupcake also donates all cupcakes leftover from the contest to a local foodbank. Cool!

We'll be visiting Leland Tea again (in Tea Time capacity) to partake of the their afternoon tea offerings. We may try a new tea, but the tea served at Iron Cupcake (bottomless cup/included in the price of your tasting ticket) was a Minty Rooibos from South Africa, with bits of vanilla and pear. Rooibos is a rich and flavorful herbal 'tea', perfect for those who are avoiding caffeine. I liked this one a lot!

Our Iron Cupcake hosts at Leland Tea Company.
If you want to get out and meet new people, it's always easier when food is involved! What's your favorite cupcake? The December Iron Cupcake challenge is supposed to be "what cupcake are you known for"? I don't really have a cupcake, but I suppose if I'm going to enter, I better get some ideas! Do you have any I can steal? Let me know in the comments!!