Providing fudge brownies for 40 bakers entering a local Junior Cupcake Challenge was the easy part of Fairytale Brownies participating in last weekend's event, After all, it's my job to spread joy through gourmet brownies!
Then I was asked to be one of the judges for the 8- to 12-year-olds, and I thought, "How fun!"
It WAS fun.
The girls were separated into eight teams. Each team chose a cupcake flavor and created their own topping design to present to the judges.
They were baking a dozen cupcakes, but the bakers only had to present four perfectly finished creations to the judges.
Although they were given the recipes for both chocolate and vanilla batter, the teams were free to change their cupcake flavor using any of the "secret ingredients" from the table set up nearby.
Teams were given points for creativity, originality, teamwork, taste, plating and appearance.
As I observed each team, I noticed how well they all worked together. Even when they ran into problems - the batter wasn't the right consistency, they forgot an ingredient, they couldn't decide on a frosting flavor - the bakers were polite to one another.
One team especially impressed me by sketching a simple illustration of the finished cupcake.
Then the teams presented their finished creations to the judges:
This is where I think the term "challenge" in Junior Cupcake Challenge refers more to the judge than the junior. Because I watched each team pour heart and soul into their cupcakes, deciding whose creation was the best was not a simple task. We tasted each cupcake and rated them accordingly. The scores were close and I wondered if I should taste the creations all over again. But in the end we named our winners.
A big thank you goes to veteran judges Chefs Ashley and Kaela, and organizer Chef Amee for making the judging process seem like a piece of ... well, cake!