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Cupcake Challenge 2009: Photo gallery

March 30, 2009 | 11:30 am

4 entrants in the 2009 L. A. Cupcake Challenge

It was sweet, semisweet and occasionally bittersweet at yesterday's sold-out Nesquik Cupcake Challenge. Nearly 450 cupcake lovers — mostly women — descended on the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel to devour dozens of delectable, brightly colored mini-cupcakes.

Instead of trying to taste all 34 cupcakes in one sitting, the smarter among us (or the weaker, depending on your perception) came armed with bakery boxes and left with dozens of uneaten cupcakes. The sugar rush proved too much for some. Fortunately, the Quik Bunny was on hand for moral support and photo ops.

Ultimately, it was all about riotous flavor pairings and unexpected finds, though many a cupcake was undone by frosting that was too sweet and overpowered the cake. But the white chocolate macadamia cupcake from Two Parts Sugar managed to melt the arteries of this die-hard white chocolate hater. The chocolate bread pudding cupcake from Boho was moist and not too sweet with a dense consistency closer to … well, bread pudding than a cupcake. Other standouts included Delilah's chocolate cupcake with orange and Jack Daniel's frosting; Melli Belli's herbaceous lavender cupcake; Polkatots' dulce de leche cupcake; Layer's blood orange mango creamsicle cupcake; Southern Girl's sweet potato pie cupcake; Sugar Jones' gelato-inspired Casanova's Kiss cupcake (a combo of chocolate, hazelnut and pistachio); Oinkster's peanut butter and jelly cupcake; and Miss Priss' Pineapple Goes Coconut cupcake.

Winners will be announced Tuesday. For many of the small bakeries and caterers who participated, the opportunity to show off their skills to potential clients is just as important. The two titans of the cupcake scene, Crumbs and Sprinkles, were nowhere to be seen — and that was mostly by design. "I've never invited Sprinkles, and Crumbs never wants to compete," says organizer Dan Silberstein. "It'd be like Anheuser-Busch in a beer competition. They have nothing to gain because if they win, then it's like, of course, they're supposed to win. If not, then they lost to some no-name competitor."

[Dozens of gorgeous cupcake pictures after the jump.]

Melli Belli Desserts: Lavender cupcakes

Two Parts Sugar: Raspberry Red Velvet & White Chocolate Macadamia

Blue Cupcake: Chocolate cupcakes

Susie Cakes Pineapple Upside Down cupcakes

Buttercake Bakery: Chocolate cupcakes

Charmed Cupcakes: Chocolate Dipped Strawberry cupcakes

Delilah: Chocolate with Orange Jack Daniel's Frosting cupcakes

Charmed Cupcakes: Red Velvet cupcakes

Cupcake Chicks: Carrot Cake cupcakes

Cuppacakes: Chocolate with Chocolate Ganache cupcakes

Miss Priss Cupcakes: Monkey Bites

Sugar Jones: Casanova's Kiss & Blackberries & Cream cupcakes

Cuppielove: Red Velvet cupcakes

Delilah: Chocolate Malted Milkshake cupcakes

Fairy Cakes: Think Pink & Pina Colada cupcakes

Hotcakes Bakes: Red Velvet & Strawberry cupcakes

Layers: Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes

Delilah: Chocolate with Orange Jack Daniel's Frosting & Chocolate Malted Milkshake cupcakes

Layers: Blood Orange Mango Creamsicle cupcakes

Susie Cakes: Red Velvet cupcakes

Miss Priss Cupcakes: Pineapple Goes Coconut

Boho: Chocolate Bread Pudding cupcakes

Polktatots: Dulce De Leche & Wild Berries cupcakes

Polktatots: Dulce De Leche cupcakes

Renaissance Hotel Hollywood: Lemon Blueberry Mascarpone cupcakes

Southern Girl: Sweet Potato cupcakes

Sugar Jones: Casanova's Kiss cupcakes

Oinkster: Peanut Butter & Jelly cupcakes

Susie Cakes: Red Velvet cupcakes

Cupcake Challenge 2009 ballot

An array of cupcakes at the 2009 L.A. Cupcake Challenge

-- Elina Shatkin

Photos: Rob Takata / For The Times