She's the "Godmother of the Cupcake Revolution" - a judge on Cupcake Wars (where she called my friend Kyra from Crave Bake Shop & her team "magical Gluten Free elves") and the developer of the world's first Cupcake ATM. I had to know what was in her fridge and in her head - and if she had any baking tips for the rest of us! Turns out, we both obsess about kitchen timers and dark chocolate. You know what they say about great minds -
Hook Up Alert: You can make Candace's Dark Chocolate Frosting at home!
Here's our 10 question interview with Candace Nelson:
Can you tell me a little about Sprinkles, how did it get started?
I left my job in investment banking to pursue my passion for baking. I attended Tante Marie’s Professional Pastry Program in San Francisco and began a custom cake business out of my house. Soon I came to realize that special occasion cakes are, by definition, reserved for special occasions. Raised in the tradition that dessert should be a daily indulgence, I conceived the idea of Sprinkles Cupcakes. My husband and I opened the world’s first cupcake bakery in Beverly Hills in April, 2005.
Can you tell us a little about the relationship you had with your great-grandmother and how she has inspired you?
My great grandmother owned several successful restaurants in San Francisco for more than 20 years starting in the 1920’s. Her passion for baking and cooking was passed down to my mother who always dazzled her friends with her dinner parties and show-stopping desserts. I grew up baking with my mother and after a few years in finance decided to go to pastry school to pursue my passion. While my great grandmother was the inspiration for the cupcakes, I spent over a year developing the recipes we use at the bakery.
I couldn't do an interview with you without asking about "Cupcake Wars". What is your favorite part about being a host?
It is a blast to be a judge on “Cupcake Wars!” We have so much fun on and off camera, plus I get to try 13 cupcakes every episode we film!
Sprinkles has been mentioned in almost every magazine, newspaper and television show. What has been the most interesting or exciting part about your success?
Katie Holmes spoke about us on TV within several months of opening, and about 9 months after opening we received a call from the Oprah Winfrey show asking if we could provide cupcakes for the studio audience the following morning. Oprah had received our cupcakes from Barbra Streisand and wanted to feature them! Needless to say, we said YES! And hopped a red eye to Chicago with 300 cupcakes in tow.
I know you offer Gluten-Free options at Sprinkles. How about Dairy, Nuts, & Eggs?
We offer vegan cupcakes (dairy free) and hopefully will have more options for people with dietary restrictions soon!
What tips & tricks do you have for Gluten Free bakers?
Use a gluten-free flour blend to subdue some of the strong flavors that may come from using just one kind of gluten free flour.
Are there any products you’re particularly excited about right now?
Joseph Joseph kitchen timer. In gray or pink. Nice loud alarm/ring. I can take it into another room while something is baking because my oven alarm isn't loud enough. Plus, no batteries required.
Cuisipro stainless steel oval measuring cups and spoons (1 full set $52). They nest, are durable and the oval shape makes it easier to get into tall or narrow containers. Dishwasher safe too.
Rossle cherry pitter $60. Pits quickly and easily without splattering and staining. Easy and neat enough for my 4 year old to use and robust enough for me to use when baking cherry pies
If we opened your refrigerator, what would we find?
Since I’m always developing new cupcake recipes (and lately have been working hard on our ice cream and cookie concept), I try to eat healthy at home. You would see lots of fruits and vegetables!
Pick one: Chocolate, Lemon or Pumpkin?
Try these Gluten-Free Sprinkles Cupcakes recipes:
Your new favorite sweet treat is this Gluten-free Recipe For Strawberry Cupcakes with a Strawberry Buttercream Icing, which is overflowing with rich strawberry flavor from strawberries in the cake and the frosting.
If you are a chocolate lover, you will love this Dark Chocolate Frosting Buttercream recipe direct from Sprinkles Cupcakes. For sobbing out loud, who doesn't love chocolate frosting?