Tamarynde Cacciotti’s Crème Brûlée Cupcakes

This year I chose to embrace Paris, France in memory of Sophie. She often told me of her time in France and we would spend time finding the best crème brûlée in town and devour it together. My cupcake is a tender white cake with a fine crumb topped with a crème brûlée custard then I torched the top to get that signature crunch on the top. The lace is made with sugar and the flowers were hand crafted with gum paste. I embraced some new decoration techniques this year while channeling Sophie’s urge for innovation and creativity and I am very proud of the final outcome. Thank you so much for keeping this contest going and I look forward to seeing you at the virtual ceremony.

—By Tamarynde Cacciotti

Effat Rahman’s “Corpse Bride” Cupcakes

I love October for its chilly weather, baked goods, and spooky movies. I chose to base my cupcakes off Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride because I could tell its story through each component of the cupcake.

The film takes place in a gloomy, grey Victorian-era city in England, so my cupcakes are inspired by a drink called London Fog. A London Fog is an earl grey tea latte with vanilla syrup. Accordingly, my cupcake is an Earl Grey-infused Victoria sponge cake. Throughout the film, we get to discover the colorful and ironically lively “Land of the Dead,” which is why I filled the cupcakes with blueberry-lemon jam filling, which is hidden underneath the “London Fog” and has a bright flavor to contrast the softer bergamot from the Earl Grey.

To top the cupcakes, I dyed whipped cream to a shade of light blue to match the protagonist, Emily, who is a mourning dead bride. For decorations, I topped the cupcakes with blue paper flowers that represent Emily’s bridal wreath and sugar pearls that pay homage to her wedding dress. I also put paper butterflies on each cupcake, which represent the last scene of the film where Emily turns into butterflies after discovering inner peace and acceptance.

—By Effat Rahman

Emily Rosato’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

Taking inspiration from both formerly working at Starbucks and from Pinterest, I decided to make Salted Caramel Chocolate cupcakes since salted caramel and chocolate always reminds me of fall. I used a chocolate cake base, a salted caramel buttercream frosting, and a salted caramel filling for the desired flavor.

I decided for whatever reason that the first time I was going to make these cupcakes would be on camera for the video that I submitted to this contest. Looking back, I wish I did a practice run with the recipe before I went in and filmed myself making them, but in the end it was fun going back and watching myself figure it out on camera.

Making the chocolate cupcakes themselves wasn’t too bad, but the frosting and the filling was where I had a bit of trouble. I have never been good at frosting cupcakes and this was no exception. I realized afterwards that I should have let the cupcakes cool a bit more and maybe even put the frosting in the fridge for a few minutes before trying to frost. I also tried to use a piping bag that I borrowed from my aunt for the first time, but that did not go well either. To my surprise, inserting the filling went well though!

If I were to make this recipe again, the biggest thing that I would change is that I would want to buy a specific tool to hollow out the inside of the cupcakes. Cutting the middle out of each individual cupcake with a knife is hard work! Oh, and I would want to practice frosting cupcakes a few more times of course too.

I graduated from the Ithaca College Park School of Communications back in December 2020, so I already had some film equipment that I could use and that I was familiar with. I initially set up and shot most of the recipe completely by myself, but once my boyfriend Brian came home he decided to give me a hand as well. Not only did he get some really nice shots with his camera, but he also helped me with some steps of the frosting that definitely required more than two hands. Although Brian did offer to help me edit, I actually edited the video entirely on my own as well. It was a bit of a challenge as I have not edited footage in any capacity since way before I graduated. I wanted to reteach myself how to video edit for a while now though, so this was a nice way to reintroduce myself to that.

Overall I am very happy with how my cupcakes came out! They were so much fun to make, and all of my friends that tried them seemed to like them as well. Making these cupcakes definitely helped me get into the fall mood and it inspired me to experiment with other fall flavors this season as well. I would definitely make these again!

—By Emily Rosato

Aušra Milano’s Brown Butter Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot cake is my most all-time favorite: so comforting and delicious, always moist, and flavorful, and so easy to make. The recipe is extremely versatile: could be used for a layer cake, or cupcakes, or even a Bundt cake. That is why for this year’s cupcake baking contest I decided to make carrot cupcakes, because I think this is my best cupcake recipe yet. For the batter I used browned butter instead of usually used canola oil, and toasted pecans instead of walnuts. And for the traditional cream cheese frosting, I added some custard-style pudding, to make the frosting super creamy and smooth. All decorated with candied carrot roses. Simple, humble cupcakes, nothing too fancy, pure comfort and love.

—By Aušra Milano