If getting paid to stuff your face with desserts is your idea of heaven, take a tip from Candace Nelson—it’s not all fun and games. The founder of Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake-only bakery, Nelson splits her time between running ten Sprinkles locations alongside her husband Charles, opening 15 more in coming months, judging other bad ass bakers on The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and raising a three year-old son and a five week-old baby. With the days stretched thin, we wondered if, for Nelson, there really is a sweet reward at the end.
Let’s be honest – you taste cupcakes for a living. How did you get that job and how can we get it too?
Nelson: [laughs] If someone had told me when I was growing up that I would have the job of cupcake judge wherein I would be made to sit for hours and taste people’s cupcakes, I would have said, “That’s impossible!” What’s funny is we have a lot of kids who watch the show and a lot of them say to me “I want to do that when I grow up.”
And what do you tell kids who say that they want to have your job?
Nelson: This generation of kids is growing up watching the Food Network, they have an interest in cooking and being in the kitchen and I say “Keep it up!”
So what is the sweets policy in your house?
Nelson: I try to do my recipe development when my 3 year old is at school or on a play date. My whole philosophy for kids and for everyone is moderation, so for him it’s still considered a treat which it should be, particularly at his age.
With a huge business and two kids, how are you staying sane during the holidays?
Nelson: Planning is key. I always have some sort of cookie dough in my freezer. That’s the wonderful thing about baking–you can freeze things and bake them off, not anything we do that at our store, but in my personal life I’ve found that it can be a life saver.
Do you have any nutrition rules for your kids?
Nelson: Broccoli is a staple in our household and there’s no desert unless the broccoli is eaten. Charles and myself, we lead very healthy lifestyles. I do believe in enjoyment in life too. That was part of the inspiration for Sprinkles, making this thing that someone might buy at the supermarket and eat really quickly and not think anything of because it wasn’t special, to make it special and make it with good ingredients and make it beautiful so that if you had one, it would satisfy you and you would take care eating it and you would eat less ultimately.
–Interview by Christina Couch
Cupcake Wars airs Tuesdays at 9pm on the Food Network.
Candace’s Peanut Butter Cupcake Recipe
* 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
* 1 tsp baking powder
* ¼ tsp salt
* 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
* ¾ cup smooth all natural peanut butter, at room temperature
* ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
* ½ cup sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* ½ cup whole milk
* 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine milk and vanilla in small bowl. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in bowl. Beat butter and sugars in mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and blend until smooth. Slowly mix in peanut butter. Add half the flour mixture and blend slowly. When fully incorporated, add milk mixture. Continue to blend slowly. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Add chocolate chips and fold in by hand. Scoop into 12 lined baking cups and bake for about 22 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched and the edges are golden brown.
* 6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup creamy peanut butter, natural (or if you want a smoother look, go not-natural)
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup whole milk
Combine sugar and salt in bowl. Combine milk and vanilla in bowl. Beat butter and peanut butter in mixer until smooth and creamy. Alternately add sugar and milk mixture until fully incorporated. Add additional milk for a softer consistency. Frost on top of cooled cupcakes.
To all things cupcakes!