Ithaca Cupcakes 2021: Special Awards

Contestants in the 6th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest wowed the judges with their recipes, originality, craftsmanship, and creativity delivered in their photos, videos, and stories. Congratulations to winners of the Special Awards!

Yummiest Shark Fins Award

Lionel Bakum

Lights, Camera, Action! Award

Emily Rosato

It’s a Great Pumpkin Award

Henry Bowes

Sommelier Award

Heather Lee Williams

Necessity Is the Mother of Confection Award

Stacia Humby

Cupcakes Are Gorges Award

Eleanor Gabler

True to Yourself Award

Patti Meyers and Hudson

Cherry On Top Award

Shauna Defone

Apple of My Eye Award

Ann Phelan

It’s About Thyme Award

Takoda Warner

Chocolate Happiness Award

Holly Taylor

Lionel Bakum’s Pretty Darn Yummy Cupcakes

Emily Rosato’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

Henry Bowes’s Pumpkin Spiced Latte Cupcakes

Heather Lee Williams’s Partners in Wine Cupcakes

Stacia Humby’s Chocolate Cherry Almond Cupcakes

Eleanor Gabler’s Waterfall Cupcakes

Patti Meyers and Hudson’s Pillsbury Lemon Cupcakes

Shauna Defone’s Chocolate Cherry Cordial Cupcakes

Ann Phelan’s Spiced Apple Pie Cheesecake Cupcakes

Takoda Warner’s Vegan Orange Lemon Cupcakes

Holly Taylor’s Super Moist Chocolatey Cupcakes

Ithaca Cupcakes 2021: Honorable Mention Awards

One of the judges in the 6th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest commented that the entries were too beautiful to eat. That certainly goes for the seven cupcake submissions that received Honorable Mention awards.

Kudos and thanks to all 24 contestants—you are the best in every way!

Honorable Mention awardees are presented with $25 gift certificates from the Downtown Ithaca Alliance.

Honorable Mention

Aušra Milano

Effat Rahman

Kelly and Rosemary Rowland

Tamarynde Cacciotti

Debbie Barbash

Simon LeRoux

Annika Donlick

Aušra Milano’s Brown Butter Carrot Cupcakes: Brown butter carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and candied carrot roses

Effat Rahman’s Corpse Bride Cupcakes: Earl Grey-infused Victoria sponge cake filled with blueberry-lemon jam and topped with blue whipped cream, paper butterflies, paper flowers, and sugar pearls

Kelly and Rosemary Rowland’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter and Jelly Surprise Cupcakes: Rich dark chocolate cake coated with a thin layer of jam with peanut butter frosting and a miniature peanut butter cup buried inside

Tamarynde Cacciotti’s Crème Brûlée Cupcakes: Vanilla-flavored cake with sugar lace and handmade gum paste flowers

Debbie Barbash’s Tropical Paradise! Cupcakes: Vanilla-flavored cake topped with creamy mango frosting, sprinkled with coconut flakes and dry mango pieces

Simon LeRoux’s Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes: Vanilla and lavender-flavored, mushroom-shaped cake with a honey buttercream frosting and marzipan snails and spots

Annika Donlick’s Fall Harvest Double Chocolate Cupcakes: Chocolate cake with decadent chocolate frosting and homemade fondant hand-sculpted into pumpkins, apples, corn, and zucchini

6th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest Awards Ceremony

Join us Saturday October 23 @ 3 p.m. for the 6th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest Awards Ceremony! You can watch the online event by clicking on this Zoom Link:

The 2021 awards ceremony will celebrate all the amazing 24 contestants who entered the contest this year! They baked cupcakes and then shared photos, stories, and even some videos of their delicious creations!

The Mighty Mickie Quinn will present the awards and prizes to the winners. The ceremony will feature words from our community partners, and musical performances by Kenneth McLaurin & SingTrece, Nellia Mattson & Savannah Loiacono, and the Mozart Group Class at Ithaca Talent Education.

The contest finalists will be judged by our panel of VIP judges:

Yuko Jingu, Akemi Food

Racquel Riccardi, Sinfully Delicious Baking Co.

Melissa Kenny, Sweet Melissa’s Ice Cream Shop

Ashley Case, Case Sera Sera


Every October, The Sophie Fund along with students from Cornell University and Ithaca College organize a “Cupcake Button” fundraising campaign during the cupcake contest to support a local nonprofit focused on community wellbeing.

This year, the campaign is raising funds for The Learning Web, an organization that supports our local youth making the sometimes difficult transition to adulthood.

If you would like to help us support The Learning Web, please click here to donate to our GoFundMe campaign:

Holly Taylor’s Super Moist Chocolatey Cupcakes

The cupcake and frosting recipe are both favorites of mine from two different friends. Friends + chocolate = just what you need in the year 2021 (and let’s be honest—2020 and probably 2022). The frosting recipe is especially close to my heart, as my best friend’s mother used to make me chocolate cake with this frosting for my birthday each year. It’s a very old recipe from a Hershey’s chocolate baking book, and I was amazed at the specificity of the recipe. There is a direction within the recipe that requires you to simmer cream and sugar for exactly six minutes—I loved that! So combining food recipes I love from friends I love seems to me the perfect combination for baking and sharing.

—By Holly Taylor

Takoda Warner’s Vegan Orange Lemon Cupcakes

I thought that lemon orange and thyme would be a good flavor combination because the thyme adds a savoriness, the orange adds a sweeter flavor, and the lemon makes everything brighter. When I first made the buttercream the thyme was not strong enough, so I had to make a second batch. After making a second batch the balance between thyme and citrus was much better. I think that adding herbs to cupcakes gives them a slight savory taste, making them less sweet and also making the other flavors stand out more.

—By Takoda Warner