After observing a swarm of people gather in Union Pool's backyard last night for Brooklyn Kitchen's Cupcake Cookoff, this is what I learned:
1. The cupcake trend isn't over, apparently. Or in Brooklyn, liking them is so ironic that the obsession is contrarian and has come full circle (so it becomes popular again?). Last night saw 45 entries, as opposed to the 30-ish last year.
2. Winning a cupcake contest is like winning a junior high student council race. The cool girl won! And won last year too! Kate Brown took home 235 votes last night. Were there even 235 people there? How did she do that? It's like she cheated or something. Actually, she did! But in a good-for-the-world way. This year's rules allowed people to buy their victory since the buck-per-vote went to the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen.
3. Elvis cupcakes are a meta-trend. Within the mystically invincible trend that is cupcakes, there lives a flavor trend. Cupcakes that incorporate peanut butter, bananas, and sometimes bacon to honor the King of Rock-and-Roll's favorite combo. Last night, there were three Elvis entries (shove it, red velvet!) including Brown's winning one. Brownie of Blondie and Brownie made a batch back in November, but is a little bit over them. "They were kinda three months ago." (Snap!)
4. Do not use root vegetables. This is a sad one. An ambitious parsnip cupcake contestant got no love. Supporter of the underdog Zach Brooks even went up to the creator: "You're not gonna win, dude. But this is really good." The people just aren't ready for a carrot cake recipe replaced with parsnips. Sigh.
5. There are a lot of cooking contests in Brooklyn. The Chili Takedown, which spawned the recent first annual Tofu Takedown, the upcoming Curry Takedown (June 14), the ever-classic Bacon Takedown, Brooklyn Kitchen's Ramen-off, Enid's Apple Pie Bake-off, Emily Farris’ Casserole Contest. It usually involves a lot of beautiful liberal art school grads in dark denim drinking microbrews, or alcohol in some form. They may look ambivalent and too cool for school, but trust me, they all want to win this. The KitchenAid mixer or Le Creuset casserole dish prizes are great and all, as are the bite-sized samples (some people have not eaten all day in preparation!) but winning is like becoming royalty in Brooklyn's young artisanal food scene.