It’s OK to call her Cupcake |

It’s OK to call her Cupcake

April E. Clark
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
April in Glenwood

I live with a reality television star. No, I don’t reside in L.A. or New York City, where actors are about as easy to spot as a Kardashian on a tabloid cover. Carbondale might be a close third for recognizing famous people, though.

Especially now that “Cupcake Wars” has aired.

Professionally, my roommate Cassie Harrelson is not an actor. She has never been on a reality TV show until this year. We are known to succumb to the temptation of watching the “Bachelor” on Monday nights, though. By day, Cassie teaches math in Aspen. By night, she makes one mean cupcake.

I’m not just saying that to score more cupcakes.

Now that Cassie has been on the Food Network, she can add “TV personality” to her resume. I’m sure I’m making her blush with all this talk of being a TV star, but she was on a national television series airing on a network that’s seen in 90 million households. No small potatoes.

I couldn’t help but go with a food pun there.

For those who haven’t seen “Cupcake Wars,” it’s a reality TV baking competition that pits cupcake against cupcake. I know cupcakes don’t seem to be the type of food to go to battle. They are so sweet, after all.

Make cupcakes, not war.

In this fun Food Network show, which celebrates its one-year anniversary in June – with cupcakes, I presume – four teams have a bake-off with unusual ingredients.

Cassie appeared on this month’s “Year of the Cupcake” episode, assisting her friend Liz Rackoff who runs a custom cupcake bakery called Batter Cupcakes in Vail.

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, the “Cupcake Wars” teams were challenged to create baked masterpieces with themed ingredients such as tofu, lychee, soy sauce, green tea, ginger and other Asian spices.

Not all in the same cupcake, of course.

The goal of the show is to get down to one victorious team that wins $10,000. Liz and Cassie didn’t win the whole shebang, but they did come back from L.A. with an experience of a lifetime. The lights. The cameras. The action. These Colorado ladies were on national television, for goodness’ sake. Not all of us can say that.

See, Charlie Sheen, winning isn’t always everything.

Competing on the show has sparked quite a bit of creativity in Cassie’s cupcake baking passion. She loves to bake cupcakes like I love to watch NFL football on Sunday. This scenario works out well because food and football go together like chocolate stout cupcakes with Irish creme frosting.

I’m speaking from firsthand experience here.

My waistline could become a casualty, but I really have no problem taste-testing Cassie’s delicious cupcake creations. She bakes them for friends as gifts, and basically just for the fun of it. Because she really loves baking – meaning my co-workers and I are often in luck because she has extras from her experimentation to go around for the tasting.

Cassie is like a cupcake angel from heaven.

Each time I try one of Cassie’s cupcakes, I literally say, “This is the best cupcake I’ve ever had in my life.” Seriously. Every time.

Just last night, my neighbors Luke and Andrea and I enjoyed Cassie’s new recipe for banana pudding cupcakes that featured a banana curd center, whipped cream frosting, and little mini vanilla wafers on top. I am not kidding, it had to be the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve enjoyed many cupcakes in my time.

Especially in the last year.

We all know anything baked with love tastes better. Cassie definitely makes her cupcakes with good old-fashioned southern love.

That’s why my mom’s key lime is the best in the world – literally, there is no pie better. My aunt Patty’s fruit pie comes in a close second, but don’t tell her I said that. And my dad makes a fantastic cherry-covered cheesecake that’s amazing, even if sometimes he cheats and uses a box. Don’t tell him I said that either. His is really my favorite cheesecake of all time because he has always loved baking it for us.

Maybe there’s a Food Network star in all of us.

– April E. Clark thinks the lychee fruit is underrated as a cupcake ingredient. She can be reached at

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