Shhh, guess what? I have a secret which I have been keeping for months now and I super thrilled to finally share with you all! It is pretty hard to keep something so amazing a secret. I do not know how I did it, but I did, and I am proud of myself for doing it. What is the secret, you ask? You know I love desserts, right? Well, I love cupcakes even more, and when I had the chance to attend the filming of the season nine finale of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars”, I almost fainted. I am huge fan of the show and was so excited to attend the filming of such an incredibly fun show. I really loved attending the “LA Bridal Bash” hosted by legendary high-end wedding planner Kristin Banta. The swanky and chic event took place at the stunning rooftop of The London West Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, California with some of the most amazing people in the wedding industry. What was the best part about attending the event, besides indulging in some mouthwatering and delicious cupcakes? Meeting the winners! Yes, that is the secret I been hiding for months now. It was pretty cool to know who the winners were before they are revealed them on the season finale. I was so impressed with the cupcakes and their workmanship, I wanted to know a bit more about the winners. So, a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela and Kaylee of HappyCakes Cupcakery. First of all, congratulations to them both for being crowned Cupcake Wars Champions! You can imagine how thrilled I was for the opportunity to interview these lovely ladies, who took time from baking delicious cupcakes to answer a few questions.
Bridal Hot List: Welcome to Bridal Hot List, Kaylee and Angela! First of all, congratulations on winning Cupcake Wars! That is super exciting! For those members of our audience first getting to know you, could you tell us how you got your start in the cupcake industry and how you ended up on the show?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: We actually began baking together a couple of years ago because of Cupcake Wars. We loved the show and always felt the need to be eating cupcakes while watching. This led us to try several different cupcakeries…always with unsatisfying results. We realized that there was no bakery in our city where we could find moist and not-too-sweet cupcakes, so we set out to bake our own! We worked for over a year to perfect the recipe, and all the while our friends and family encouraged us to open a business. Last September, we decided to go for it! We opened HappyCakes Cupcakery AND applied for Cupcake Wars! We ended up missing the cut-off date for Season 8, but applied for Season 9 as soon as casting opened. Getting the phone call from Cupcake Wars was a dream come true, and we are so thankful that we had this wonderful opportunity!!
Bridal Hot List: What was your experience like on being on the show? What were some of the biggest challenges?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: Being on Cupcake Wars was an AWESOME experience! The producers and everyone working on the show were incredible, and even during the most challenging times, we felt blessed simply to have been given the chance to be on The Food Network. What great exposure for our little company!
The biggest challenge was definitely being timed in every round! The clock is real, and time goes by faster than imagineable. We practiced baking cupcakes at home before going on the show, and we would time ourselves to see how quickly we could get done…but it could have never prepared us for the real experience! Secret ingredients, intense competitors, and cameras in your face all add up to an overwhelming and nerve-wracking challenge.
Bridal Hot List: Besides winning it all, what were some of the highlights of competing on Cupcake Wars?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: We became good friends with a couple of the producers, as well as our fellow competitors. It was such an unexpected pleasure that we got to make new friends while promoting our business. Obviously, meeting Candace, Florian, Justin Wilman, and Kristin Banta was a highlight! We were honored to meet such experts of the industry, and to hear some of their feedback on our work. Flying to LA for the filming of our show was so much fun! Kaylee and I get along so well, so any trip that we take becomes a wonderful adventure. We are so happy that we got to make this life-memory together.
Bridal Hot List: What were the winning cupcake flavors? Can you tell us about each one? How did you come up with each flavor? What was your inspiration?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: Cinnamon Mint: Snickerdoodle Cookie Base, Cinnamon cake, Cinnamon Honey Glaze, Mint Tea Buttercream. We came up with this flavor because we had to use two of the challenge ingredients (obviously we chose cinnamon and mint). We were inspired by a hot cup of tea, because we felt that we could successfully marry the flavors of cinnamon and mint by making a mint tea and using a bit of honey. We wanted to impress the judges by taking two flavors that were not an obvious pairing and combine them perfectly–and thankfully this cupcake was a huge success and helped us stand out in round one!
Salty and Sweet Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie: Pecan Cake, Salted Caramel Glaze, Whipped Chocolate Buttercream, Homemade Pie Crust Heart, Whipped Chocolate Buttercream, Salted Caramel Drizzle. The theme of our episode is “LA Bridal Bash,” so we wanted all of our cupcakes to be inspired by a wedding theme. This particular salty/sweet cupcake represented the idea of “opposites attract.”
Chocolate Espresso: Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Bean Buttercream Filling, Espresso Buttercream, Chocolate Shell Drizzle. This cupcake was our “His and Hers.” We used the chocolate elements to represent the groom, and the lighter colors of the whipped filling and espresso buttercream to represent the bride. We also complemented this idea with the decorations (Mr. & Mrs. stamp, bowtie, and black wedding dress).
Coconut Cream: Coconut Cake, Cream of Coconut Buttercream. We decided to keep this cake a bit more simple, because white cake seems perfect for a wedding. But we wanted to give it a bit of a twist from the traditional white cake, and make it coconut! We were inspired partly by Kristin Banta’s love of traditional elements with modern and unexpected twists, and partly by the tropical honeymoon that often follows a wedding!
Bridal Hot List: I was lucky enough to attend the filming of the finale and got to try your cupcakes. My favorite cupcake that tasted, which I absolutely loved was the cinnamon, snickerdoodle with a mint tea frosting. What inspires you to create such a flavorful and oh-so-good flavor?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: As referenced above, we thought cinnamon and mint would be an unexpected pairing, but would not clash! In our house, we drink tea (often mint) with a spoonful of honey, cream, and a cinnamon sprinkle on top…and if it works in a mug, it should work in a cupcake! We chose to add snickerdoodles as a base to the cupcake because we knew that having another element that used cinnamon would help make that flavor even more pronounced. The judges expect to taste the challenge ingredients, so we worked very hard to make the flavors strong.
Bridal Hot List: Each season, the winning team has the opportunity to showcase the winning cupcakes at a special event. Can you tell us about this event?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: We had the honor of showcasing our cupcakes at an event hosted by Kristin Banta for some of LA’s top wedding vendors. We met some of the foremost people in the wedding industry, and loved sharing our cupcakes with them. Photographers, videographers, models, event coordinators, caterers, and more graced the rooftop of the London in West Hollywood.
Bridal Hot List: For future contestants that will be on the show one day, what advice do you have for them that you wish you knew before you went on?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: The promotion for your business is invaluable, so enjoy the process and don’t stress out too much! This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and worth all of the hard work that you put in to it. Also, make sure to push yourself! You will not regret doing your absolute best…go crazy with decorations, with your flavor choices, and (if you make it to the last round) with your display! The judges have seen almost everything that’s out there, so to really impress them you have to try to stand out.
Bridal Hot List: Overall, what lessons did you both learn with competing on Cupcake Wars and how did those lessons improve your skills?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: We learned how to communicate with each other better than ever before. We didn’t have the luxury of extra time to brainstorm or discuss solutions to problems, so we had to talk through what we could, and completely trust each other with what we couldn’t.
Bridal Hot List: Cupcakes are trending right now for weddings and many couples opt for cupcakes versus a wedding cake at their wedding. When did your team first notice this trend? What special arrangements can be done with “wedding cupcakes” that can’t be done with a traditional wedding cake?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: Before we opened our business, we were already noticing that cupcakes were becoming popular with weddings. As soon as we opened, we knew that one of our target audiences would be brides, and we generated an abundance of interest. Brides and wedding guests love the versatility of cupcakes. Cupcakes offer a variety of flavors per wedding, whereas wedding cake is limited to its individual layers. Cupcakes can also be displayed in a number of ways: tiered stands, ladders, vintage bookcases, etc. Cupcakes are basically mini cakes with lots of options, and so we believe that this trend will never go out of style.
Bridal Hot List: What has been the most bizarre cupcake creation request you’ve received? If you ended up doing it, how did it turn out? I imagine there are quite a few requests that you turn down. Could you share a story about a job you ended up turning down, and why?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: The most bizarre flavor that has ever been requested of us was a Peanut Butter, Sharp Cheddar, and Bacon cupcake. We decided to attempt it, and thankfully we had very tasty results! The cheddar flavor wasn’t very prominent, but aside from that the cake was moist and overall tasted very delicious! Aside from this, we do not receive very many odd requests, mainly because our menu has over 40 flavors so there is something for everyone!
Bridal Hot List: We want to hear from you to find out what’s trending this year heading into the fall wedding season. What are the top three most popular flavors for wedding cupcakes in Fall 2013? Are there any flavors you think brides should be thinking about that aren’t on that list?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: Our top three most popular cupcakes for weddings this Fall are: Maple Pecan Pie (with homemade pie crust topping!), S’mores, and Caramel Apple.
We have a new cupcake named the “Hot” Chocolate. It is a little bit spicy because of the cayenne in the cake, but is topped with a cooling layer of whipped chocolate buttercream and whipped vanilla cream. Absolutely perfect for Fall, and perfect for the slightly adventurous bride! Apple Pie is another flawless Autumn cupcake: snickerdoodle cookie base, cinnamon cake, homemade apple pie filling, cinnamon buttercream, homemade caramel drizzle, topped with a mini snickerdoodle cookie. We think either of these flavors would compliment any of this season’s wedding receptions.
Cupcakes are a great choice for weddings, and even though every bride has different tastes, as long as you choose a good range of flavors, you are sure to be pleased! Make sure that there is always a chocolate option, something with a vanilla cake base, and then possibly something fruity or peanut butter-y or caramel-y. This will ensure that all guests at the wedding have their sweet tooth satisfied.
Bridal Hot List: Has competing on Cupcake Wars improved your business?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: It has brought us a tremendous amount of exposure and allowed us to start pursuing our dream of having a storefront. When we competed on Cupcake Wars we were an online-only bakery, but we now sell our cupcakes out of a “temporary” storefront, and have our eyes on a permanent one!
Bridal Hot List: Now that you have won, what is next for you both?
HappyCakes Cupcakery: We are working very hard to open our new storefront within the next 6 months. We want HappyCakes Cupcakery’s storefront to feel like a second home to our customers…where we can share our cupcakes, and our happiness, with the people of our wonderful city. Then, down the road, we hope to begin shipping so that we can share our happycakes nationwide.
Here are some beautiful and lovely cupcakes that have been created by HappyCupcake Cakery: Oh, Just so pretty!