My daughter loves the show Cupcake Wars. The bright saccharine colored show always gets her going. She loves to be grossed out when they put an ingredient like fried chicken in a cupcake. And she is equally impressed by the beautiful and tasty looking confections piled high with frosting and sprinkles. She’s been talking about creating her own version of Cupcake Wars for her 7th birthday for months. She was studying cupcake books (I own 2 books but I went to the library to borrow a few more), requesting me to make and test various frosting flavors and coming up with new ideas for judging on a daily basis. Really when it was about one week before the party I had had it. I didn’t think I could listen to any more about cupcakes, let alone make them.
But it was actually super fun – for everyone. She invited three friends over to celebrate with dinner (I made pizza and salad), cupcake wars and a sleep over. Since none of them had been studying cupcakes like my daughter, or had even seen the show for that matter – we started the party by watching the show. Thankfully they were very into it. Cheering for their favorite teams to win and oohing and aahing over the creations.
The day before my daughter and I had a fun time getting everything ready. Our version had to be more simple (no baking or crazy ingredients involved). We made lots (over 50) mini cupcakes – half chocolate and half vanilla. Then we created a tray of sprinkle and decorating options. It was a large array of choices. Everything from chocolate chips to shaved coconut, to sugar flowers and pearls to red hots, etc. My daughter also requested three flavors of frosting – vanilla, chocolate and mint (which I made green). I was kind of suspicious of the mint, but it was really yummy. (see recipe below). We also added a tray of blueberries, raspberries, and sliced bananas and strawberries.
After they ate dinner, we set up everything for cupcakes and my daughter set the timer to 20 minutes to decorate and present 6 mini cupcakes for judging. Once they got the hang out of how to squeeze the frosting bags, we realized 20 minutes was way too long and quickly cut it to 10 (that was even a lot of time). The more time they had the more elaborate (read “gaudy” and “overdone”) the decorations were becoming. This also meant more sticky, gooey mess for mom to clean up too. (Frosting really does harden on tables, chairs and floors quickly!)
When the timer went off it was hands up and decorations down, just like the show. After much consideration my daughter had decided (with a little coaxing from mom and dad) that the participants (i.e. girls plus big brother) would also become the judges. That seemed only fair. We came up with a judges sheet with 5 criteria – from best tasting to most colorful, etc. Last minute I also came up with prizes…cash. No, not the $10,000 they give on Cupcake Wars. Each category would receive a special envelope with a $1 bill. Oddly enough there were 5 categories and 5 participants and everyone won a category. Hooray! Hmmm…. (that might not work next year).
Mint Frosting from Southern Living’s Big Book of Cupcakes (one of my family’s favorite books)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar (I like to sift)
Beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at high speed 2 minutes or until creamy.
Makes 3 cups.