Cupcakes, Glorious Cupcakes

I’ll be honest–like most students, I spent the majority of my Thanksgiving break dreading the return to classes.  But as Sunday night crept ever closer, the only thing keeping me going was my excitement for JMU’s first-ever Cupcake Wars! 

Around the office and among all my friends, my name has become synonymous with baked goods.  To say that I love to bake would be a gross understatement.  I live for baking–almost literally, as I teach cake decorating classes at Michael’s.  I love experimenting with new recipes and challenging myself to try new techniques, so naturally when I heard UPB was planning this event, I was positively ecstatic.

The only thing better than baking is baking is competitive baking.  Ever since I happened upon it a few months ago in a fit of summer boredom, I’ve loved watching Cupcake Wars on Food Network.  I would give anything to compete on the show (and, believe me…I’ve spent plenty of time scouring Food Network’s website for information on auditioning; alas the option is unavailable.)!  For now, though, I’ll settle for judging tonight’s competition.  I can’t wait to see what designs you all have in store!

~Josie Eller, Film Committee Member and Cupcake Wars Judge

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Modern Holiday Desserts

An important part of the holidays is of course the food. (Yes family, friends, good health, good tidings, these are all important but lets be real, we all love food). With Thanksgiving being yesterday and Christmas now less than a month away, I want to share a fun way for traditional holiday favorites like Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie to be incorporated into cupcakes in honor of UPB presents Cupcake Wars to take place on December 1 at 8pm in Taylor Down Under.

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Prep Time= 40 minutes

Total Time= 1 hour 35 minutes

Makes= 24 cupcakes

½ cup finely chopped pecans

3 tablespoons sugar

1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix

1 cup (from 15- oz can) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
½ cup water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 container Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy cream cheese frosting

1. Heat oven to 350°F (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
2. In heavy 8-inch nonstick skillet, cook pecans and 2 tablespoons of the sugar over low heat about 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until sugar is melted. Spoon and spread pecans onto sheet of waxed paper. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar; toss.
3. In large bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (about 2/3 full).
4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

5. Frost cupcakes with frosting. Sprinkle edge of frosted cupcakes with pecans; press lightly into frosting.

~Katelyn Diehl, Executive Assistant

Let The Battle Begin…

Are you ready for the cupcake battle of the year?!! Well it’s time to start preparing for battle since there’s only two weeks left until Cupcake Wars: JMU edition! In order to “prepare,” this past weekend I munched on some cupcakes and caught a rerun of Food Networks Cupcake Wars, which I can only describe with one word; INTENSE! Not only do competitors have to create cupcakes with really odd ingredients, they also have to make and decorate 1,000 cupcakes in only 2 hours! Luckily JMU’s edition of Cupcake Wars won’t be as intense; in fact it will be quite relaxing (for those who aren’t competing and can therefore feast on holiday treats). The showdown will take place in TDU from 8:00 – 9:00 PM on Wednesday December 1st. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone’s best efforts in our three decorating categories; JMU, holiday and freestyle. We’ll supply your weapons (cupcakes and decorations) and you bring the fight (your creative prowess). So this week as the holidays approach, don’t be afraid to release your creative spirit. You may just win something sweet.  And did I mention it’s FREE?!

 See you there! Let the battle begin…

~Jordan Lawson, Special Events