Holy cow, cupcakes really aren't dead! This was apparent the moment we pulled into the chaotic parking lot of the Valley Ho around noon yesterday for the 2nd Annual Cupcake Love-In. The fund raising event (benefiting Central Arizona Shelter Services) was once again sold out, despite being double the price of last year ($20 scored you 7 tasting tickets as opposed to last year's $10 price tag for unlimited tiny cakes) and judging by the sea of sugary smiles the event was a huge success.
Droves of woman, children, and a boyfriend/husband or two packed the small courtyard and ballroom of the Valley Ho to sample cupcakes from more then 30 pastry chefs and bakers. Unfortunately there were so many people it was hard to actually get to the cupcakes and once they were actually in our possession it was either eat them standing right there or try and make friends with someone who scored one of about 10 tables.
We went with the shoving the cupcake right then and there plan and started digging in. With only seven tasting tickets, it was difficult to pick and choose.
Find out what we tried after the jump.
Tempe's Santa Barbara Catering won us over with an irresistible display and their Salted Caramel Apple Crumb Cakes were just as good as they looked. The moist apple cake was topped with crunchy salted caramel bits that resembled the toffee of Almond Roca but better and the frosting was the perfect texture.
Chandler vegan restaurant 24 Carrots brought several of their animal friendly including a Mango Lassi and their signature Mexican Hot Chocolate. The chocolate cake was moist but lacked the spicy kick that we were expecting. Then again, we weren't expecting much from vegan cakes in the first place (nothing beats cupcakes made with dairy, not a single cupcake has convinced me otherwise, not even our own vegan cupcake attempts).
Jewel's tower o' cupcakes
Heavens Gluten Free Bakery also had quite the selection with a few of the cutest little apple cakes with pretzel twigs and a pretty blueberry cupcake that sounded like a nice break from all the chocolate, apple, and red velvet that surrounded us. It was a good attempt but lacked the berry sweetness that we were expecting. The frosting, however, was nice and light and made the actual cake a bit more palatable.
We almost missed Tammie Coe's table of Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch cakes, which would have been tragic since they ended up being a favorite. The popular cake maker was tucked away in a second room that we almost bypassed (good thing we were on a hunt for water). Luckily, we snagged one of the last wonderful tiny cakes. Underneath a mountain of light and airy chocolate whipped cream frosting was a layer of crunchy hazelnuts and just a smidge of perfect chocolate cake (if you have had one of her Ooey Gooey cupcakes, you'll know what we're talking about). We would have tried to smuggle one out the door but that sounded messy (and illegal as per Cupcake Love-In rules).
Cupcakes by Design's Lemon Tree cupcakes which were topped with tiny butterflies tied with Tammie Coe for our favorite cake of the day. The flavor of decadent citrus cakes with a tangy lemon filling and not too sweet lemon frosting outdid the beautiful butterfly wings. We broke our small bite rule and ate the entire cupcake and probably would have traded in all of our tasting tickets for more room in our stomach to eat just one more.
A brave cupcake eating challenge contestant
In between bites we attempted to watch the cupcake eating contest. Have you ever tried to watch a table full of people shove cupcakes in their mouths as fast as possible when you are on the verge of a cupcake coma? We found out the hard way that it's not a good idea. We managed to bear witness to the slaughtering of the cupcakes for all of 30 seconds before we had to walk away.
Last but not least, we hit the Honey Moon Sweets table. Their offerings of adorably decorated pumpkin and strawberry cakes were dripping with sugary sweet frosting. Sadly, one bite of the too sweet strawberry cake put us over the cupcake edge and we decided right then it was time to go home. Seven tasting tickets were more then enough especially since we didn't plan ahead and bring our own Tupperware containers for cupcake hoarding like a few attendee we spotted throughout the day.
Since we arrived fashionably late, it seems as though we missed out on two of the most talked about cupcakes of the day -- Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup cupcake from Ollie Cakes aka Urban Cookies
and the Chipotle Grasshopper cupcakes from Barb's Bakery
(food blogger Girl Meets Fork managed to snag a couple photos and even got her hands on the recipe, click here
for a peek at what we missed). Next year we will be right on time as not to miss the unique stuff which apparently went like hotcakes.
Want to see pictures of more cupcakes than you've ever imagined? Click here to check out our Cupcake Love-In slideshow.