Coccadotts on Cupcake Wars

rachel dott coccadotts cupcakewarsThe Colonie bakery Coccadotts competed on the episode of the Food Network show Cupcake Wars that aired Tuesday night.

Coccadott's owner Rachel Dott opened the show with some fighting words -- not for the other contestants, but for the hometown competition. From the meet-the-competitors opening montage:

Coccadott's is booming. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a lot. ...
We were the first cupcakery in Albany, New York. Now they're popping up on every corner.
Make your own. Don't send spies in and buy mine and copy them. ...
If we were to win Cupcake Wars, I think Coccadott's will be the last standing in Albany, absolutely. We have what it takes.

Cries of espionage and a fight to the finish! This really is (cupcake) war.

So, how'd Coccadott's do on the show?

Dott was competing with Matthew O'Connor, her business partner. They were facing bakeries from Woodlands, Texas; Riverside, California; and Rockville, Maryland.

The theme of the episode was the ESPYs, the ESPN awards show. The winner would be making cupcakes for the event. (And get $10,000.)

Because of the sports theme, the opening challenge was to make an "MVP of a cupcake" using three "high octane ingredients favored by athletes." Among those ingredients: spinach, whey, green tea, energy drink, blueberries, oranges, almonds, and garbanzo beans.

The Coccadotts team chose to use oranges, almonds, and blueberries as part of an almond cupcake, with fresh blueberries, cream cheese icing with orange zest and orange juice, and "fondant flags with words of encouragement."

The plan was to drop the fresh blueberries into the cupcakes halfway through baking. When they pulled the cupcakes at the halfway point, the blueberries wouldn't sink into the cupcakes, and the cake itself was "a salty mess." So they started over on the cake.

They pulled the cupcakes with just three minutes to go in the round, and popped them in the freezer without checking the cake (warm cupcakes melt icing). Said Dott: "I just was happy that I had something that appeared to be a cupcake." They finished decorating the cupcakes right at the last second.


Judges were regulars Candace Nelson (the founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes in LA), Florian Bellanger (a French pastry chef, sort of the Simon Cowell of the show), and guest judge Gretchen Bleiler -- a pro snowboarder.

The judges said the Texas team's cupcake was overwhelmed with orange flavor. They said the California team's tasted too much like almond. And the Maryland team's cupcakes -- orange-scented cannoli cupcakes -- were "a slam dunk."

Of the Coccadott's cupcake:

Bellanger: "I had the word courage on top of my cupcake, and I appreciate that, because I needed some. It's hard to explain, but the texture of your cupcake was between a rice pudding and a wet energy bar. It was really not enjoyable. Even though you packed the flavor in and I could taste it -- this cupcake was totally wrong."

Nelson: "I was mystified by the texture of this cupcake. It was very wet. I'm not sure how you got this texture, but I don't think it was supposed to be there, so was very off-putting for me."

Bleiler: "I agree. I was kind of tasting egg or something in there. So, it wasn't my favorite."


Host guy: "One of you is getting ejected from the game for a cupcake that was, as the judges put it: soggy, off-putting, and totally wrong. Rachel, I'm sorry, you're done in the cupcake war"

Said Dott: "I was crushed. I didn't come here to lose."

The episode re-airs this coming Sunday at 5 pm.

Support for the bakery poured into its Facebook page after the episode. The bakery posted Wednesday morning:

WOW!! Many thanks to all our family, friends, and customers for all of your support. We love and appreciate you all!! We had over 1000 people show up last evening for our viewing party! Today we have our almond blueberry cupcakes in the store for you:) Again thank you all for your love and support! Xo

screengrab: Food Network


Hope she didn't cry about it. There is a war going on.

@aavp77: It's my understanding that, as in baseball, there's no crying in cupcakes.

@Greg: Just repeating Ms. Dott's response when my mother told her how upset I was after Coccadott's dumped my wedding cake during delivery.

I felt the same way after Dott's towed my car...

@aavp77: Seriously?! That's just... wow.

(I hope you were able to get an alternate cake. Or a refund. Or both.)

Rachel Dott came off as arrogant and rude to me. I was completely turned off by her statements in the opening about being the first in Albany and everyone else was a copycat. What year did she open? Never mind all those other cupcake places in NYC that came before her, she is a true original (/sarcasm).

FYI, it should be "Make your own" not "Make you're own."

Editors: Fixed. Thanks.

@aavp77 - they did the same thing to my wedding cake...

I commented similarly at Tablehopping. I really don't get how they allowed the show to be edited to have her spending her face time talking about her local competition; the other contestants on the show really didn't say anything like what she said when they had the chance to describe their businesses.

I think even making it to national television could have been a very positive thing for her business and other businesses in the area, but I can't help but feeling like her comments on TV and the whole viewing party will have a net negative impact.

I doubt Food Network will be back to feature capital region cupcakes any time soon...

I didn't want to say it, but I also found her comments and attitude off-putting. However, I also have to understand that shows like that have a way of editing things a certain way. I'm sure they played up the trash talking as a result of her embarrassing elimination, to smear even more egg on her face.

@Greg: We were able to get a refund of half the cost of the cake, but it wasn't easy.

@cw: Sorry to hear that! Did they blame your choice of venue?

Sorry, her cupcakes may be pretty, but they are nowhere NEAR as delicious as Betty's! There's also something to be said for that vintage double-decker bus!

that's the behavior of a child, and seemingly, a worried business owner.

Really? They're open 24/7? They're always closed whenever i drive by after work....

@aavp77 - no - they blamed another driver for "cutting them off" in traffic..You should feel lucky to have been reimbursed for half your cake - we were given $50. I have not done business with them since..Did they really blame your venue?

I have mixed feelings about coccadott's. My gf got me a birthday cake from there last year and it came out amazing, and the red velvet was awesome. But why would a bakery whine and complain about having to spend more to make something that is better for your consumers?? (the ban on trans fats) Oh no! You can't cut corners and put a terribly unhealthy ingredient into your food! Boohoo.
And I had a friend who had a "meh" experience there with a custom cake.

At least the competitors produced cupcakes that held together and could be judged for their flavors. How - as the first cupcake bakery in Albany - did she manage to not even properly bake a cupcake?! Isn't that a fundamental?

The vitriol in the comments at the Table Hopping blog is shocking. I was not impressed with Rachel's portrayal on the show either, but JEEZ.

On another note, here is a response from Coccadotts themselves, in the form of a press release.

We chose not to get our wedding cake from there because of aavp77's experience...

I thought she came off as incredibly tacky. I was turned off before she even started trying to bake... (how could she not make a cupcake that was at least palatable?)

Also, I agree with the commenter who said they're always closed. I was confused by that comment too.

I've watched that show a few times. It never fails that one team in the first round has cupcakes that don't bake properly. I have no evidence to back this theory, but I truly believe that they tamper with the ovens to guarantee that one contestant is knocked out in the first round due to undercooked cupcakes. Watch a few episodes and see for yourselves.

I went with cupcakes for my wedding and did a taste test of all the cupcakeries in the area. By far, Pricechopper had the best tasting cupcakes and frosting. And luckily, the least expensive. Coccadotts was the worst tasting out of five different cupcake shops. And I had three blind judges.

I love Coccadotts, get there cupcakes and real cakes whenever the occasion arrives (even if that means just being up on Central that far!). But I was really disappointed in the attitude of the owner portrayed in the show. We will never know what was cut and what wasn't, but that negativity was really off-putting.

We are lucky enough that so many people in the area love cupcakes that we can support so many cupcake makers. I prefer some over others, but when I am driving and suddenly see a cupcake truck, I usually stop and pick some up. Another reason why Albany rules!

I bought my husbands 40th birthday cake from coccadott's. I went in there one afternoon to get advise/suggestions from them for the cake (I ended up choosing a lemon cake with lemon custard filling, buttercream frosting airbrushed light blue w/ dark blue, light blue and white fondant dots]. The girl was rude, stand-offish and acted like I was wasting her time. I almost walked out, but didn't. I paid half then and was to pay the other half a week before I picked up the cake. A week before, they tried to charge me full price. When I picked up the cake, it was missing the white fondant dots. I told the girl, whe checked my slip, then said "oh, you're right, so do you want us to add them" UMMMM YEAH I DO -- I PAID FOR IT DIDN'T I??? What the heck!!! When I said yes, she seemed annoyed and so did the girls in the kitchen. When I got home I noticed that the cake had a slight downward slope on one side and that same corner was not airbrushed like the others. The cake tasted amazing, but I will NEVER buy another cake from coccadots again. It I'm going to pay over 100.00 for a cake, it better be as ordered and it better be perfect in every sense. And, I expect professionalism. They just seem a little too rough around the edges for this line of business!!

I'm really not sure why they're such a big name around Albany, I've personally experienced 4 events that used their cakes or cupcakes and while pretty, they either weren't what the person ordered (decorations), dry and tasteless or extremely salty. Thankfully I've never spent my own dime there nor will I.

I'm really not sure why they're such a big name around Albany, I've personally experienced 4 events that used their cakes or cupcakes and while pretty, they either weren't what the person ordered (decorations), dry and tasteless or extremely salty. Thankfully I've never spent my own dime there nor will I.

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