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Posts Tagged ‘Philabundance’

3rd Annual Cupcake Smash

Posted by culinaryneophyte on May 11, 2013

PrintNow that the cupcake calamity has subsided, I’m ready to recap the rousing day that was Cupcake Smash 2013.

In case you’re new to this fabulous event, here’s a quick overview:

PYT is a crazy burger joint in Philly known for putting bacon and/or booze in basically everything. (Their rise to fame skyrocketed when they came out with the Krispy Kreme burger with chocolate-covered bacon, and gained nationwide notoriety when they started selling taco shells made completely of bacon.)

Philabundance is a nonprofit food bank that serves Philadelphia, Jersey and Delaware, and it’s the largest such organization in the region. In an effort to raise money for the food bank and “squash” hunger, Philabundance and PYT joined forces to create Cupcake Smash — a competition that challenged area bakers to create a cupcake based on one or more of PYT menu items.

On the day of the event, cupcakes invade the Piazza at Schmidt’s, served off decked out stations. Last year, I was inspired by PYT’s “Adult Cereal,” and made a Fruit Loop-flavored cupcake with a Loopy Vodka buttercream, and served the minis in individual cereal bowls with tiny spoons. It was enough for me to be voted People’s Choice among all attendees, so naturally, I had to defend my title…

Like last year, I made just about 10 test batches of different cupcakes based on assorted PYT items. Unlike last year, nearly all of these were relatively successful. (Last year, I had some pretty questionable results, including one that tasted like an ashtray.) This turned out to be more of a curse than a blessing because while all of the test batches were “good,” there wasn’t one among them that I tried and said, “THIS. This is it.” My taste testers’ feedback was all over the place, and I was fretting as the submission deadline loomed. I sent in what I intended to make with a giant, worried sigh.

cinnamonkey setup 2Our fabulous Cupcake Coordinator, Melissa, organized a happy hour for the competitors to meet up, and I had such a wonderful time meeting everyone, hearing their baking stories and sharing our excitement for the big day. I spent most of my time talking to Jamie from Luscious Bakery, a rocket scientist (legitimately!) who left that line of work to open her own business! Totally in awe of this girl, but it looks like it was the right move because she ended up taking first place among professionals this year with her “Brass Monkey” cupcake!

In between the chatting and buffalo bleu cheese fries, I spotted a special on the PYT menu — the “Monkey Bread Milkshake,” made with bits of monkey bread, vanilla ice cream and RumChata. On the way home, I started wondering “what if…” and got some materials together to try just one more test batch.

I had no idea what RumChata was, so I did some research (both via Google and imbibing) and discovered it may very well be the best liqueur ever made. A mix of Caribbean rum, cream, cinnamon and vanilla, a shot tasted like a smooth gulp of liquid Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I got to baking, toted around some test batches and discovered I finally had the one — a cinnamon-sugar, pull-apart cupcake base with RumChata buttercream, topped with a Cinnamon Toast Crunch crumble.

Once the entry was finalized, it was time to devise a theme. I recruited my design-inclined BFF, Laura, to apply her talents and bring our ideas to life. After a monkey-centric brainstorming session, we decided that Cupcake Smash is “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” and that we wanted to nix the standard serving table and display the cupcakes on actual barrels. Only problem was you empty barrels are hard to come by, especially on a budget. On a long shot, we stopped in a garden store that didn’t sell barrels, but by the grace of God, a darling employee pointed us to a local shop that sold potting containers that looked just like barrels. Flipping one on top of another yielded the perfect faux barrel for our display. To add to our monkey theme, Laura incorporated cupcakes into the “Speak No/See No Evil/Hear No” monkeys for our T-shirts.

cupcake smash shirts

Detailing all the madness that went on in the 48 hours prior to the event would make this longer than it already is, but some highlights: buying 50+ pounds of ingredients at the supermarket, the senior citizens’ reactions to my 50+ pound purchase at the supermarket and carrying those 50 pounds and construction materials up six flights of stairs. Oh, and that time the liquor store clerk asked me if I was 16 or 17 after selling me two bottles of RumChata. After some monkeying around (come on, I had to go there at least one), Laura and I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. constructing and baking — didn’t quite realize at the time of conception that rolling 1,200 balls of monkey bread dough would be so time consuming. Yup. It certainly was.

But hey, it proved to be worth it because my CinnaMonkey cupcakes won People’s Choice! With the warm weather and lack of shade, my cupcakes were little cinnamony puddles about 10 minutes in, but people dug what we were serving enough  for me to take home my second consecutive title. Congratulations to the other winner: Luscious Bakery, Watts for Dessert, 2204 House, Cammy Cakes and the Midnight Baker!

cupcake smash trophy

Thank you everyone who came out to the event and helped to raise money for Philabundace. We doubled our total from last year, raising enough to provide 20,000 meals to those in need!


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cupcakes! booze! philanthropy!

Posted by culinaryneophyte on April 26, 2013

Oooooh my goodness. My life is a whirlwind right now, capped off by the impending task of baking 500 cupcakes tomorrow. Yes, you read that right: Several hundred cupcakes. In one day. In my relatively small kitchen. Why? Because I’m helping Philabundance “beet” and “squash” hunger in the tri-state area as part of the third annual Cupcake Smash this Saturday at the Piazza in Philadelphia. 

You may recall I won People’s Choice last year with my “Fruit Loopy” cupcakes, but the competition looks tough this year and I’m hoping I can deliver on these grandiose plans I’ve created. I’m not divulging anything just yet, but would love for you to come check out the event yourself. Online ticketing closes Friday at noon, but limited tickets will be available at the door. All the details can be found here, and the official press release is below. Hope to see you there!

Cupcake Smash To Take Over The Piazza in Northern Liberties
Tickets available for Cupcake Smash, the premier cupcake baking event at PYT benefiting Philabundance


Philadelphia, Pa- April 10, 2013- Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, is throwing the third annual Cupcake Smash at The Piazza at Schmidts on Saturday, April 27th from 2pm-5pm. Philabundance and PYT are joining forces with The Piazza to raise money for people in need of food in the Delaware Valley. Professional and amateur bakers alike will vie for the tastiest PYT themed cupcake to be deemed #1 by celebrity judges and the “People’s Choice.” Advance tickets are on sale now for $25 and can be purchased online or at the door for $30. All proceeds benefit Philabundance.

Cupcake Smash will be held in the middle of The Piazza with Wendy Rollins, Radio Host on Radio 104.5 emceeing. Celebrity judges include Nima Etemadi and Lily Fischer, co-owners of A Cupcake Wonderland and winners of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, Zoë Lukas, owner of Whipped Bake Shop, Caroline Russock, food editor of Philadelphia’s City Paper , Tommy Up of PYT, Chef Nathan Volz of 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge, Wendy Rollins and Tony Luke Jr., of Tony Luke’s. Judges will vote on the best cupcake for the amateur and professional categories, while attendees will vote for the “People’s Choice.” 

DJ Jay Yo will be on the ones and twos while complimentary beverages and snacks will be provided by
Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, KIND Healthy Snacks, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Philadelphia Distilling, and White
Mule Farms Spodee. Uber, “everyone’s favorite driver,” is offering Cupcake Smash attendees a free ride from the Piazza up to $20 with a special promo code.

“Cupcake Smash has been such a huge success over the past two years thanks to the enthusiasm of
the bakers, judges, sponsors and of course, attendees,” said Marlo DelSordo, director of marketing and
communications at Philabundance. “More than 20,000 meals were provided to people in need because
of cupcake smash and we know that this year will be the best one yet.”

Philabundance is experiencing 29 percent more people coming to them for food compared to last year
and a 98 percent increase in need over the last three years which is why community support is needed
more now than ever before. Last year’s Cupcake Smash raised more than $7,600 for Philabundance
helping them provide more than 15,000 meals to people in need, surpassing the 10,000 meal goal and
doubling the amount of meals provided the inaugural year of Cupcake Smash. The goal for the third
annual Cupcake Smash is to raise enough money to provide 20,000 meals to people struggling to put
food on the table.

Cupcake Smash is made possible by The Piazza at Schmidts, PYT, Philadelphia City Paper, Radio 104.5, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, KIND Snacks, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Philadelphia Chocolate Tours, Philadelphia Distilling, White Mule Farms Spodee, Uber and Yelp .

For more information, please call 215-339-0900 or visit

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Cupcake Smash 2013

Posted by culinaryneophyte on April 1, 2013

It’s baaaaaaaaack! Cupcake Smash 2013 is April 27, and you should come out to try some crazy cupcakes, drink delightful spirits and raise money to fight hunger. I just got back from a super fun happy hour meetup with fellow contestants, and I’m so excited to see what everyone will be serving at the third annual Smash!

Check out my recap of last year’s event, including my People’s Choice win!


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cupcakes v. hunger

Posted by culinaryneophyte on May 1, 2012

Around this time last year, my friend Rachel handed me a brightly colored postcard featuring a smiling, flying, caped cupcake and told me to enter this new cupcake competition based on one of my favorite Philly restaurants, PYT. Intrigued, I went home and emailed in, but was promptly told all spots were filled. (After all, it was just a week before the event.) Thankfully, the Cupcake Smash organizer, Melissa, kept my contact information and included me on the distribution list for this year’s event. It was about 15 seconds from the time the email from the “Cupcake Coordinator” arrived until the time I was registered. I was not missing out on this opportunity again.

For those unfamiliar, Cupcake Smash is a baking challenge for both amateurs and professionals to showcase their cupcake creativity while raising money for Philabundance, the Philadelphia region’s largest hunger relief organization. Bakers are tasked with making a cupcake inspired by the PYT menu, known for its Krispy Kreme Burger, “adult milkshakes” and other adventures.

The hardest part of this experience was not baking 100+ perfect cupcakes in one night; it was settling on a cupcake with the perfect balance of creativity, novelty and taste. I don’t want to give away all my trials (because who knows what next year will bring), but there was liquid smoke, liquor and lots of bacon. I found a silver lining in every test cupcake (e.g. “these flavors are complex,” or “no one will think to do this!“), but I wasn’t completely wowed by any of them.

Two days before my contest entry details were due, I made a last ditch effort, turning to the latest wacky creation posted on PYT’s Facebook page — “Adult Cereal.” Simple as it may be, Adult Cereal is literally a bowl of Fruit Loops, milk and a shot of Three Olives Loopy Vodka. Breakfast of champions, amIright? What I ended up with was a Fruit Loop-flavored cupcake with a Loopy Vodka buttercream frosting — my very own recipe. Usually when I attempt something like that, things go awry and I get beyond flustered, but everything seemed to fall into place with this one.

I pitted my “Fruit Loopy” cupcake test batch against another anonymous test batch, and nearly all of the votes fell in favor of the former. I submitted the details and set out on my next challenge: decorating my station. I enlisted Rachel and my stepmother, Becky, as my event day helpers, and we bought up any sort of rainforest/tropical/luau decor we could find at the party store. (There may or may not have been an in-store Google search of “Where does Toucan Sam live?” performed.)

Our setup became a colorful, tropical breakfast-land — palm trees, flowers, giant bowl of Fruit Loops and a guest appearance by that lovable cereal mascot. We served the cupcakes in tiny cereal bowls with miniature spoons, which were really meant for aesthetic, but people seemed to enjoy trying to eat their cupcakes with them.

Overall, the response was great; the crowd loved the sweet taste of Fruit Loops topped with the complementary boozy frosting. Attendees were given tickets to vote for a favorite amateur cupcake and a favorite professional cupcake. I would have been thrilled with just one person saying my cupcake was their favorite, but as the event went on, I was so flattered by all the kind words and votes. The top five from each division moved on to the judges’ table, and when I made the cut, I was on cloud nine.

I had absolutely no expectations, so when they announced the amateur winner — a cupcake involving a chocolate-covered pretzel, which I sadly did not get to try — I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. But then they announced the People’s Choice, and I heard a chuckle before an exclamation of, “That’s Forking Good!” Did I just hear that right? It didn’t really register until Rachel let out a loud “WHOOO” and shoved me up to get my gift certificate and awesomely tacky trophy.

Win or lose, the experience was fantastic. A big thanks to all my friends and family who made time to come out; I hope you drank all the PBR and Fuze you could handle on top of the 30 cupcakes you downed. I had such a good time frantically handing out cupcakes, checking out all the creative cupcake creations and helping to “beet” hunger as my awesome new Philabundance T-shirt reads. The event raised more than $7,600, which is twice as much as they raised last year. Can’t wait to see what Cupcake Smash III brings!

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Cupcake Smash 2012!

Posted by culinaryneophyte on April 28, 2012

Cupcake Smash 2012!

Here’s my setup at Philabundance’s Cupcake Smash 2012 in Philadelphia. Fruit Loop cupcake with Loopy Vodka buttercream frosting. I won People’s Choice! More details coming soon. Thanks to all who came out to “beet” hunger!

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Cupcake Smash!

Posted by culinaryneophyte on March 26, 2012

I’ve been MIA lately, and it’s all because I’ve been test baking some reeeediculous cupcakes for Philabundance’s 2012 Cupcake Smash. The task is to create a winning cupcake inspired by PYT’s crazy menu — mind you, this is the same place that brought us the Krispy Kreme burger — and serve it up to all of Northern Liberties on April 28.

Philabundance is once again joining forces with PYT to challenge area cupcake enthusiasts to celebrate cupcakes and, most importantly, fight hunger!

If you’re in the area, you should definitely stop by: $20 in advance ($25 at the door) gets you cupcake tasting, food, drinks, etc. I keep baiting my friends with the free PBR, but the event as a whole should be a good time — especially if the weather is nice because The Piazza is a fabulous outdoor venue.

What am I making? You’ll have to come out to see! 😉

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