Cupcake Wars

Apparently Cupcake Wars is a great show that I should be watching, but I’d never heard of it until last Thursday. I brought in 2 kinds of cupcakes to work – more on that in a minute – and someone came to my desk to tell me to “stop with the cupcake wars.” I was baffled. “The cupcakes are warring?” She was shocked I hadn’t heard of Cupcake Wars, and I promised to look it up.

I, uh, haven’t. But I will! I promise!

Anyway, it seemed like an appropriate title for a post about 2 kinds of cupcakes, which inspired the conversation. Last week, a woman at work told us all she was going to a “barter fair.” Hundreds of people camping, and bartering their stuff for other stuff. She made an off-hand comment about how she thought it would be cool to barter with my cupcakes, and I told her she could, in fact, do that. How? By giving me money. She was super excited and we started scheming.

Oddly, she doesn’t have a sweet tooth, but she did say she likes caramel. I told her about the chocolate cupcakes with caramel buttercream filling, vanilla buttercream frosting, and homemade caramel drizzle… and she was sold. Then she asked if I could make 2 different kinds of cupcakes. “Sure,” I shrugged, “why not?” The friends taking her to this fair are big fans of coconut, she said, so maybe a coconut cupcake. Well, I’ve never baked with coconut before because I don’t like it, but I’m game!

I quickly Googled for coconut cupcake recipes, and found this one that I thought looked promising. She bought the cream cheese and coconut paraphernalia as part of our payment agreement.

She needed the cupcakes Thursday, and I knew the whole process would take my entire Wednesday evening, so I made the caramel Tuesday after work. Making caramel is surprisingly easy, and then people are impressed when you tell them you made it yourself.


These are the main ingredients. Really. Plus a little vanilla and a pinch of salt. Honestly, the hardest part is that you have to stand at the stove stirring it constantly while it thickens.


While the caramel cooled, I made buttercream frosting. Once it was cool enough to touch without yelping, I separated out some buttercream from the batch and added caramel. The rest of the syrup was poured into a plastic squeeze bottle. Buttercream, caramel buttercream, and caramel sauce: done!

Wednesday evening, I set the bottle in a bowl of hot water so it would be easy to drizzle later, and then, I proceeded to demolish the kitchen.


It was pretty crazy. I tried a new chocolate cake recipe, instead of my usual dark chocolate Guinness recipe, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I’ll definitely be using it again. I used Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder and Baker’s semi-sweet baking chocolate. I was melting chocolate, toasting coconut flakes, gathering ingredients, and just generally getting kind of confused a lot. But thanks to perseverance, lots of measuring cups and spoons, and 2 ovens, I got it all done.


I ended up making lots of mini cupcakes because I wasn’t sure how I was going to even transport all the big ones. As it was, I’d bought a cardboard carrier that holds 2 dozen regular-size cupcakes, and had puppy-dog-eyed Boyfriend into agreeing to deliver that to my office the next morning because I had no idea how I’d get it safely to work on the light rail. The coconut cupcakes came out very fluffy, and in the process of lickingcleaning out the bowl, I discovered: I like coconut!! That cake batter was delicious!

Next step, after the cupcakes cooled, was filling the chocolate ones with the caramel buttercream frosting I’d made the night before. To do this, I put the frosting in a pastry bag with a small round tip (Wilton #3 ish), poke the tip into the top of the cooled cupcakes (very imported! otherwise your filling just melts), and squeeze. It’s neat to watch the cupcakes poof up a little as they get filled, and when you pull the tip out, you have a little frosting belly button!


By now, it was late and I was pretty tired. Time to frost these suckers, sprinkle toasted coconut on some and drizzle caramel sauce on the others, and figure out where to store them all for the night. zzzzzz



Seriously. I made a LOT of cupcakes. The woman from work reported they were gone quickly at the fair, and she bartered for some fun things like a henna tattoo. At work, they were snarfed up, and another woman said she thinks the coconut ones are her favorites that I’ve made so far. Heh. “So far.” Little does she know how much more there is to try….


I love my kitchen decorating desk so much. And yes, that toolbox is for decorating tools, not hammers and nails.


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