Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” hasn’t just motivated viewers to indulge in the sweet treat. The TV show has inspired Mesa culinary instructor Amee Hoge to host a similar cupcake challenge of her own but with a twist — it’s just for kids.

The “Junior Cupcake Challenge” is in its third year, and it challenges 8-to-15-year-olds to come out to Desert Cross Lutheran Church in Tempe on Saturday, April 27, to bake and decorate their own cupcakes.

At the challenge, teams of four will follow a recipe to make either a yellow or chocolate cake with vanilla or chocolate frosting. The recipes, tools and ingredients are provided, and teams will be able to mix in flavors to differentiate their cakes from their competitors’ creations.

The teams are judged by chefs from Valley bakeries such as ABC Cake Company and Sassy’s Bakery and Cafe, along with Jenn McKinlay, the New York Times bestselling author of the Cupcake Bakery mysteries, on taste, presentation, creativity, teamwork, organization and cleanliness. The winning group will attend cooking classes with a pastry chef at the Arizona Biltmore resort and have a TV appearance on Channel 3.

Kids of all baking levels are encouraged to enter, but Hoge says they need to have some experience measuring out ingredients, and they need to know how to be safe in a kitchen environment. Hoge will assist each team during the challenge to help any bakers in need.

Hoge attended the French Culinary Institute in New York and has since put her talents to use teaching cooking and food styling classes. After hearing from kids how much they loved watching “Cupcake Wars,” Hoge created a version just for them.

She says her challenge is a popular event because cupcakes are such a kid-friendly food.

“I love the fact that … you can be so unique with each cupcake,” says Hoge. “Especially with kids, you have a higher success rate of it looking really good because (the cakes) are smaller … you can do so many different things with them, and they just look fun. They brighten people’s day.”

The challenge costs $32 per child, and participants can enter with their team of four, or they can register as a single challenger and be placed in a team. Space is limited.

• Ellen, a junior at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or

If You Go

What: The third annual Junior Cupcake Challenge, a competition for kids ages 8 to 15 to bake and decorate their own cupcakes in teams of four.

When: Challenge times are 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday April 27, with a final bake-off at 4 p.m. that day.

Where: Desert Cross Lutheran Church, 8600 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe

Cost: $32 per participant; pre-registration is required, and space is limited.

Information: (480) 678-4988 or

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.