Many of us here at ADEC are still riding the sugar high brought on by Cupcake Wars.

ADEC’s five day service locations and After-School Club really rose to the occasion by whipping up dozens of sweet treats in hopes of taking home the top trophies.

Who knew lime peels, bacon and popcorn could make such delicious cupcake toppings (not together, obviously)?

Day services started testing recipes before Thanksgiving, spending months tweaking the ingredients and ratios.

On Wednesday, each competitor showed up at ADEC’s new Gaining Grounds Center with hundreds of mini and full-sized versions of their hopefully winning recipe. Each location picked a theme song and built a display for their cupcakes, which they rolled out in front of a panel of five celebrity judges:

  • Brittney Baily, B100 DJ
  • Tom Coomes, chief meteorologist for ABC57
  • Marshall King, food critic and writer
  • Jeff Siegel, Elkhart County Sheriff
  • Emily Stump, Sweet-Em’s Cake Shoppe

The judges rated each location for cupcake taste, overall display and presentation.

The winners were:

  • Best Display: Day Service at Middlebury. With a “Space Jam” theme, Middlebury’s display featured a basketball hoop and the starting line-up of bakers was introduced to kick off the presentation.
  • Best Presentation: Day Service at Bristol. With an “Alice in Wonderland” theme, Bristol’s bakers dressed up using costumes borrowed from the Elkhart Civic Theatre.
  • Best Cupcake: Day Service at Goshen. The team of Goshen bakers put the lime in the coconut cupcake and won the judges over. The judges thought Goshen’s key lime cupcake was delightfully tart and refreshing.
  • Best of Show: Day Service at Goshen won the grand prize.

Although there was no trophy to present for the category, judges and audience members agreed that there should be one more award: The perseverance award. Days before Cupcake Wars, an employee who led baking at Day Service at Mishawaka was injured in a car crash. Still, the team at Mishawaka put together a tasty cookies and cream cupcake featuring crushed Oreo cookies. When judge Tom Coomes asked how many Oreos were sampled in the baking process, client Aaron Anders responded with a number somewhere more than one million.

Following the Cupcake Wars program, the audience was invited to sample mini cupcakes baked by each location and purchase full-sized treats for $1 each. The cupcakes — more than 300 of them! — were sold out in less than 30 minutes. Money raised from cupcake sales went back to each location so they can continue experimenting in the kitchen or with other vocations.

Cupcake Wars was more than a friendly competition. Baking is a popular vocation at ADEC, where the individuals we serve spend time in the kitchen baking Bow Wow Pet Biscuits as well as human treats. Not only is it a fun activity, but it is one that teaches important skills for independence — from shopping for ingredients to reading a recipe and using fine-motor skills to make it all come together.

Marshall King, one of our celebrity judges and a local food writer, really captured the essence of the event in his Dining a la King column:

“As I sampled these great cupcakes, I was simply astounded to see and taste the results of a daily process where people are empowered and given not just skills and tools, but companionship and community as they cheerfully live. That’s a winning recipe for everyone.”

Day Service at Goshen

Best Cupcake, Best of Show

Put the Lime in the Coconut

Ingredients: cake mix, milk, key lime juice, eggs, butter extract, lemon pudding, lime zest, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, powered sugar, vanilla pudding, gelatin

Day Service at Elkhart

Hawaiian Roller Coaster

Ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, buttermilk, chocolate chips, cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, Airheads Xtremes

Day Service at Bristol

Best Presentation

Unbirthday Song

Ingredients: butter pecan cake mix, cinnamon, vanilla, bacon, maple syrup extract, milk, oil eggs, powdered sugar

After-School Club

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse


flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, butter,

eggs, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, sour cream, Andi’s mints, milk

Day Service at Mishawaka

Perseverance Award

Level Up

Ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, milk, vanilla, flour, salt, baking soda, oreos, cream cheese, powered sugar

Day Service at Middlebury

Best Display

Space Jam

Ingredients: Sugar, butter, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, butter milk, salt, milk, food coloring, vanilla, vinegar, heavy cream, brown sugar, vanilla beans, chocolate chips, popcorn

Each ADEC location poured lots of time, energy and sugar into crafting the perfect cupcake. Take a look at the videos below to see the baking process at each location and why each team thought they deserved the cupcake trophy.