Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Iron Cupcake London – Challenge V: Booze

A picture paints a thousand words and I think that the smiling faces of our winners (above) show that our first outing at The Cuban Citypoint was a cracking night! Great cupcakes, great people and – I’m sure those of you who partook will agree – great cocktails! Even Van Gogh’s ear made an appearance….it was that kind of night! Our new venue is so roomy that it's impossible to get everyone in one photo...

Our 19 entries raided the drinks’ cupboard tantalising our taste buds with beverages ranging from Guinness to Southern Comfort stopping off at Malibu, Baileys and Cider on the way! Rum was the most used spirit but each time it was used in such a different way that it didn’t feel samey. Here are just some of the entries snaking around the bar:

We tweaked the voting a little this time (we aim to make continuous improvements to the competition to ensure that the outcome is fair) so that baker’s votes carried more weight – each baker’s vote counted for 3 to ensure that the winner was the best cupcake on the night. Tough decisions had to be made:

Here's the light snack that I tucked into along with two's a tough life:

Without further ado here are our podium finishers:

Winner – Melissa’s Grown up Jaffa cakes with triple sec

Melissa – a debutant to ICL - won on the night. What we didn’t tell anyone until the result was announced was that her entry was vegan-friendly. Melissa isn’t a vegan herself but her friend is and she missed not being able to go for coffee and cakes with her…so went about creating vegan-friendly cupcakes!

This cupcake was light and moist and had little chunks of chocolate (possibly orange too) in the sponge. Unless I imagined it, the frosting sat upon a thin layer of marmalade which added a squidginess to the buttercream (I’m calling it that although obviously it didn’t have butter in it). Special thanks to Melissa for coming along seeing as the event coincided with her 7th wedding anniversary…I guess I should thank her husband too for appreciating just how important cupcakes are!

Well done Melissa and good luck at defending the title next month.

Runner up – Fiona’s Mojito cupcakes

Fiona’s cupcake replicated the delicious mojito cocktail in sponge form. Mojitos are a lovely mix of rum and lime with a dash of fresh mint; they cleanse and refresh the palate whilst giving a good kick from the rum. What impressed me most about these was the mint flavour – because it was so obviously fresh mint but I couldn’t see where it was! Normally mint in baking is a little synthetic but the freshness here really made a difference. Fiona has just started a college course in cake decoration but, as you can see from the photo, she’s already pretty darned good!

Joint third place – Amanda’s Brandy brulee cupcakes

Amanda is our most decorated Iron Cupcaker with a first place and two third places to her credit. This alcoholic version of a crème brulee was delicious – the sponge was so moist (thanks to the brandy syrup brushed over it) that some people questioned whether it was indeed sponge! The creamy custard topping was indulgent and worked beautifully with the little curly brandy snap on top.

Joint third place – Natalie’s Malibu and coconut cupcakes

Natalie’s debut entry at ICL scored highly with everyone – for me, it was the lovely texture of the coconut packed sponge that was the treat! The smooth creamy frosting was indulgent and topped with glitter that made it feel like you were eating something precious. The Malibu was nicely judged and came through subtly.

So, those were the cupcakes that scored highest on the night but which would you pick? To help you decide here are all the other entries:

Robyn’s Dark and Stormy cupcakes

Another debutant, Robyn recreated the rum and ginger cocktail and stayed true to her Bermudian roots by using Black Seal rum. The cupcake was flecked with little chunks of ginger and the heat of the rum came through gradually. A beautiful balance of two of my favourite flavours.

Robyn’s Apple cider cupcakes

These cupcakes were packed with flavour and juiciness from the cider – divine! Dave (the man you can thank for taking the wonderful photos of your creations!) described them as having a lovely “apple finish”. Once we’d finished mocking him for coming over all Jilly Goolden we had to agree that he was right. I think the frosting contained sour cream as it had an acidic sharpness that worked so well with the cider.

Amanda’s Rum and raisin cupcakes

Amanda found a new fan in one of The Cuban barmen – when we left he came running after us asking where he could buy these! So, Amanda, if you get someone contacting you asking for a vast quantity of these it could well be him! I felt slightly intoxicated merely sniffing these for they were extremely boozy. No wonder, as Amanda soaked the raisins for FOUR DAYS! The raisins were not only in the sponge but also the frosting and I loved the texture it added to the creamy frosting – it was a very nice idea.

Katy’s Mint Bailey’s chocolate chip cupcakes

The mint flavour came through first and then was replaced by the warming Bailey’s. Bailey’s is a strange drink to me as I would never drink it but love it in baked items. The crisp chocolate drizzled on top of the cake added an extra hit of chocolate and texture.

Mitsu’s Drunken Bakewell cupcake with amaretto

Mitsu’s baking is vegan-friendly without compromising on flavour. Amaretto was the perfect flavour to add to the almond packed Bakewell and it worked so well as you got the hit of almond but then it built in flavour as the amaretto kicked in. A lovely combination of juicy flavours and juicy texture.

Mitsu’s Comfy plum with Southern Comfort cupcake

I have never come across Southern Comfort used in baked goods before so thanks for educating me Mitsu! The frosting was whipped and smooth and heavenly to eat and the combination of plum and Southern Comfort was inspired. In truth, I’m not sure I’d know this contained booze…until I fell off my seat intoxicated! If there’s a cuter name for a cupcake than “Comfy Plum” then I haven’t heard it – I have visions of a plum propped up on cushions on a chaise longue!

Nikki’s Chocolate and Bailey’s cupcake

The intense chocolate flavour came through first – all the eaters around me loved the way Nikki had kept the chocolate dark and semi bitter. The Bailey’s came through the cocoa and provided a background warmth. This was a grown up cupcake with rich and intense flavours.

Rebecca’s Caipirinha cupcake

As someone who has enjoyed a refreshing Caipirinha on more than one occasion, I can vouch that these were spot on! Caipirinha is the national cocktail of Brazil and contains cachacha (a rum type spirit), lime and sugar. Rebecca’s cupcakes were vibrant and refreshing which is a credit to them as they’d apparently had to attend a meeting on their way to the contest. I’m assuming that it was Rebecca who added the input to the meeting and they were just sitting around but I’m willing to be corrected…..

Kat’s Absinthe cupcakes aka Van Gogh’s Last Cupcake

Now when I see 12 cupcakes each claiming to be topped with Van Gogh’s ear I automatically assume that 11 are fakes. But maybe he was like sharks with their teeth and kept re-growing it? I think I’m digressing… was impossible to get near these cupcakes without being able to guess their flavour – they screamed absinthe! The flavour was intense and the alcohol made the sponge mega-moist. Full marks for the decoration too Kat; you’re the first person to put an ear on a cupcake for ICL!

Mara’s Chocolate and rum cupcakes

These were as rich and deep as the glossy chocolate topping suggests. My fellow-taster Jasmin described these perfectly as tasting like chocolate truffles but in cupcake form. The little pecan decoration was not only pretty but also added an extra texture…not that I got it as Dave leaped in and nabbed it happy with his good fortune!

Lynda’s Guinness and chocolate cupcakes

This cupcake is a great example of why I love ICL so much. I would never drink Guinness and would never select a cake containing Guinness…and more fool me because this was up there as one of my favourites of the night. I love having my preconceptions turned upside down. This cupcake was rich and smooth and the Guinness wasn’t pronounced but added incredible depth to the chocolate – it’s just one of those combinations that works!

Kelly’s Orange Creamsicle cupcake

I consider myself a cocktail aficionado but have never had a Creamsicle. A quick glance at google told me that it contains vodka, cointreau/triple sec, orange juice and cream…what’s not to love? The enticing orange glow of the frosting was matched by the aroma – gosh, I wish you could smell it! The initial taste was all orange but then the cointreau came through and provided some lovely warmth in the back of your throat.

Kayla’s Limoncello cupcake

This struck me as the companion cupcake to Kelly’s orange cupcake shown above…well, Kelly and Kayla are sisters so it makes sense! Kayla balanced this very well as the lemon was sweet enough to appease me (I don’t like tart lemon) yet tart enough to please the lemon lovers. The sponge and frosting were both tangy and citrus-y and most refreshing.

Melissa’s Black forest gateau cupcake with kirsch

Melissa, our winning baker on the night, spoiled us with a further two entries! Anyone who tasted this cupcake would not need to be told that it contained kirsch – you couldn’t really miss it! Wow did it have a kick! The sour cherry added juiciness to the sponge and the cupcake was as rich as you’d want a good gateau to be…and, like her winning entry it was vegan-friendly.

Melissa’s Pina colada cupcake with dark rum

Melissa put some jam between the frosting and the cake which adds a lovely extra texture to each bite. There were also little chunks of pineapple and flakes of coconut which created the lovely tropical flavour sensation of a good pina colada. Again, just for the doubters, it was 100% vegan-friendly!

Now you’ve seen all the entries you’ll understand what a tough job it was picking out only three to vote for.

The voting slips on the night come to me and I tally them up to find the winner. Some people write little notes on their voting slips and I feel it only right to pass on two observations that were made:

  1. “Every entry was absolutely nice and great”. I love that – they weren’t just nice, they were absolutely nice. Couldn’t have put it better myself!
  2. “More vegan-friendly entries please.” Over to you, lovely bakers.

Special thanks to Paul (who greets you all and ‘stickers you up’), Jasmin (who plated up the cupcakes with such aplomb) and Dave (who takes all the lovely photos you see in this post) – I am merely Dogtanian to your three Muskehounds!

Boring copyright bit: all photos are the property of Dave Shipman and are reproduced with his kind permission. If you wish to use one of his photos please contact us first and then ensure that you credit the photo to him.

Thanks to everyone who came along and helped us settle into our new venue – The Cuban at Citypoint. Hope to see you all again on 2nd November for our SPICE night!


Joy said...

Fabulous! What an incredible range and all so wonderful. I would give the prize to the absinthe one! I can't get to taste them but that poisonous green and Van Gogh's ear makes it the stand out winner for visuals!

Katie said...

All the entries look fabulous! All so unique and delicious looking. You must end the night on a real sugar high. I'm determind to join you one month

Lisa said...

Wow! This has to be my fave Iron Cupcake challenge thus far. Those Bakewell cupcakes are the ones that are killing me and the Southern Comfort entry, well, I love my bourbon so these would be something I'm sure I could easily knock back.


April said...

oh yum!!! Especially the Baileys one

April xx

Cakelaw said...

So many creative cupcakes - so little time to try them all! They all look fabulous, and aren't the makers creative!

Margaret said...

Such beautiful boozy cupcakes. I love them all and couldn't possibly pick out a favourite.

glamah16 said...

This event is getting huge! Love it.