Interview with Cupcake Wars Winners from Season 9

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.

Cupcake Wars Season Nine Winners

Cupcake Wars Season Nine Winners

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.


Kaylee and Angela with Event  Planner Kristin Banta.

Kaylee and Angela with Event Planner Kristin Banta.

Cinnamon Mint Cupcake.  Photo by Bridal Hot List

Cinnamon Mint Cupcake.
Photo by Bridal Hot List

Chocolate Espresso Cupcake Photo by Bridal Hot List

Chocolate Espresso Cupcake
Photo by Bridal Hot List

Coconut Cream Cupcake Photo by Bridal Hot List

Coconut Cream Cupcake
Photo by Bridal Hot List

Salty and Sweet Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie Cupcake Photo By Bridal Hot List

Salty and Sweet Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie Cupcake
Photo By Bridal Hot List

Niloufar, Owner and Chief Editor of Bridal Hot List with the Cupcake Wars Winners

Niloufar, Owner and Chief Editor of Bridal Hot List with the Cupcake Wars Winners


Here are some beautiful and lovely cupcakes that have been created by HappyCupcake Cakery: Oh, Just so pretty!




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BHL Vendor Hot Pick: Love Me Sweets

The week continues with some incredible tasty treats at BHL headquarters.  We have to admit,  we are in total love and kind of obsessed with sweets. I personally have a sweet tooth, and always ready to dive into something new and savory. So when something sweet and amazing landed in our inbox, we were beyond happy and in total heaven. Sweet heaven that is.  Yep it is that kind of  day. We are talking  about mouthwatering, lip smacking, to-die-for desserts. So, if you are  just getting back from lunch or an afternoon snack, we like to share some delightful and lovely cakes and cupcakes for your wedding loving hearts…or dessert loving hearts. We’ve got Love Me Sweets here to make your afternoon a bit sweeter, and your sweet cravings fully satisfied. Ashleigh Clesceri is a fantastic and very  talented cake designer based out of Orange County, California.  These desserts are not only beautiful, but they are so incredibly delicious, that our eyes roll back in our heads. At first, it took me a moment to bite into one of these. Why you ask? I know right? My sweet loving heart was dying to taste the goodness, but the design and pretty details stole my heart.  That is why we  had to devote an entire afternoon for admiring, loving, and drooling. You can see why we have picked Love Me Sweets for our vendor hot pick!  Make sure you save enough time to read all that Ashleigh says about her desserts, before your sugar-induced coma sets in. She is such a lovely gal! bridal-hot-list-vendor-hot-pick-150


Shay and Monique Taylor Photography

Shay and Monique Taylor Photography

Shay and Monique Taylor Photography

Shay and Monique Taylor Photography

Julie Irene Photography

Julie Irene Photography

Julie Irene Photography

Julie Irene Photography



Jamie Davis Photography

Jamie Davis Photography

Richelle Dante Photography

Richelle Dante Photography

Happy Photos

Happy Photos


About Love Me Sweets

Love Me Sweets is a baking company, owned and operated by Ashleigh Clesceri.  She specializes in wedding and all occasion cakes, gourmet cupcakes, and desserts.

Inspired by her mother, Charlene, who also is a baker and artist, Ashleigh learned as a young girl how to bake and decorate cakes. Starting in 1999 she began entering the Orange County Fair, and became an award winning cake decorator for over 10 years. Her love for culinary arts grew to create Love Me Sweets, where you can find delicious yet beautiful baked goods.  Ashleigh, being a bikini fitness competitor, also enjoys creating healthy desserts for those that want to “Have their cake and eat it too!”  With weddings being a passion of hers, she loves to help the bride and groom create the perfect wedding cake.  Creating customized cake flavors, filling, and a one of a kind designs.  Ashleigh also creates stunning dessert tables, to help make the day extra wonderful and delicious! She looks forward in planning her own wedding dream some day! 


Love + Delicious food = Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day is approaching, and if you are anything like me, you are probably dreaming of mountains of chocolate, filled with trees of cotton candy and flowers shaped like cupcakes. If you are anything like me, you probably cannot wait to devour something succulent, delicious and unforgettably chocolaty. And of course….if you are anything like me, you probably considering eating your hearts out side by side with the love of your life! After all, it is Valentine’s day. There are specific treats that are fit for a Valentine’s Day celebration. Here are my top choices.


Dark Chocolate Ganache with cream filling. Coco Sala, Washington, D.C.

Dark Chocolate Ganache with cream filling. Coco Sala, Washington, D.C.

Never take chocolate for granted. The greatest ingredient that nature can offer, it is a VIP of culinary creativity. Versatile, creative and used in a myriad of recipe, it leaves your taste buds always crying for more. So what to do on a Valentine’s day celebration? Visit a chocolate boutique specialized in deserts.

When visiting a chocolate boutique/restaurant, the menu will leave you speechless. Literally. You will want to order everything the menu lists.

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

Artfully Chocolate in Del Rey, Alexandria, VA

I feel that hot chocolate deserves a category on its own. It is the perfect Valentine’s day drink as it calls for snuggles and warm embraces. Plus, you can make it at home or venture out in finding the best hot chocolate in town. There is nothing better than a sweet adventure.  So what about a Strawberry White Hot Chocolate?

Or a Wasabi Dark Belgium Chocolate?


Georgetown Cupcakes, Georgetown, Washtington, D.C.

Georgetown Cupcakes, Georgetown, Washtington, D.C.

You cannot go through Valentine’s day without cupcakes. Indulge!

One single cupcake can be shares, devoured or savored bite by bite, all, while in each other’s company!

So Bite In!

Ice Cream

If you are like me, you cannot live without ice cream. Being Italian, gelato has always been like water in my life, INDESPENSABLE!

Ice Cream

Ice Cream

From custards, to frozen yogurts, to soft serve or gelato, ice cream is another perfect fit desert for Valentine’s Day. It is during this day that you can allow yourself to try new flavors.

So this Valentine’s Day, don’t hesitate to increase your level of sweetness intake. It will be worth your while, as long as you also generate some output of good old L.O.V.E!!

Happy V-Day!!

Five Ways Pink Makes a Splash in Weddings

Pink is not just loved by little girls. More recently brides are using it in their weddings and it is HOT! I think when pink is incorporated well, it can work just perfectly! If not, it is just a hot pink mess.

Lets take a look at five ways pink works:

  • Color Combo. The color theme of this wedding is Navy blue and Fuschia pink.  What I love about this cake is the combination of Fuschia pink and blue which ties together so beautifully creating a fabulous cake!   I can stare at this cake all day!


  •  Flower Centerpieces. This bride’s favorite flower is the lily and she wanted to incorporate it in her wedding. A bunch of lilies submerged in water with rocks at the bottom, gives this centerpiece a simple yet exquisite look. I love how the  pink pops out against the lush green. Just gorgeous!

  • Pink on Pink.  This bride loves cupcakes and pink daisies. The perfect fusion of sweets and beauty.  The different shades of pink of the linens, daisies, and  cupcakes creates a lovely display.

I love how the cupcakes have a daisy flower design! How cute is that?

  • Pink in Vases: This bride also loves daisies and used them at her wedding as decor. Just a couple of  pink daisies in a vase, and there you go!

  • Ceremony Pink.  This bride wanted pops of pink to be present at her wedding ceremony. These hand-made paper flowers were hung on ceremony chairs with pink and white rose petals scattered on the aisle.  What a  perfect setting for the bride and  groom to say ” I do”.