Cupcake Wars: Candace’s Favorite Episode Ever

by in Shows, January 19th, 2011
After sampling Hollis Wilder's cupcake trio, "I felt like I was at a five-star restaurant dessert tasting!" says Candace.

Cupcake Wars judge Candace Nelson is the founder and pastry chef of Sprinkles Cupcakes, the world’s first cupcake bakery. She joins us on the FN Dish each week to recap all the sweet details of the competition from her seat at the judges’ table. Here’s what she had to say about last night’s episode, Rose Parade.

Let me just start by saying, this was my favorite Cupcake Wars episode ever…and also the most gut-wrenching! These four contestants are incredibly talented bakers and every step of the way Florian and I were devastated to have to choose one to go home.

In round one, Florian and I were literally amazed. It was the best flavor round we’ve ever experienced. It was such a tough round that one simple mistake sent a former winner home: Jessica and her sister are heavy-handed with the orange zest in their frosting and it overpowered the flavor of their vegan carrot cake. Florian and I were sad to see Jessica and her sister go. They have great spirit and are full of surprises. We wonder what we missed.

In round two, Lindsay created a trio fit for a queen and I dubbed her the master of detail. Her fondant decorations were gorgeous and her flower pot cupcake was ingenious. Florian and I were also both impressed at how well the rosewater frosting paired with her red velvet cupcake.

Hollis gave us an amazing trio that included candied ginger, almond-lavender, and a gluten-free chocolate cardamon cake. All of her flavors were complex yet delicate. I felt like I was at a five-star restaurant dessert tasting!

Chloe gave us sweet and homey flavors in simple lace cupcake cups. We were all licking our lips at the pumpkin-cranberry, chocolate-raspberry and chocolate-almond-coffee cupcakes. We all described them as simplicity executed perfectly—they were cupcakes we will crave. Her decorations were lovely but not quite dressed up enough for a queen.

This week, the competition was fierce and the judges faced a long and heated debate.They even pleaded with producers to let three finalists advance to round three!

It was a long and heated debate and we pleaded with the producers to bend the rules. Florian and I were desperate to allow all three to stay, but the show must go on, and as mouth-watering as Chloe’s cupcakes were, Lindsay’s intricate fondant work and Hollis’s artful sophistication gave them the edge.

Again it was a close race in round three, as Lindsay and Hollis continued to amaze us with awe-inspiring displays. But, Hollis’s display captured the surprise and wonder of the Tournament of Roses in the same way her cupcakes had surprised us all day.

Bake up a batch of Hollis’s winning Mini Coconut Cupcakes and check out FoodNetwork.com for more about Cupcake Wars, plus dozens of our best cupcake recipes.

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Comments (21)

  1. Susie says:

    OMG!!! I love the show but seriously the judges have gotten just mean. These are people's dreams and can you guys not be a bit more… I don't know.. NICER. Even my 7 year old said, Mom why are they being so harsh on them!!!! I hop you guys can realize this is not live or death. Good grief. Thinking about not watching anymore. Ugh!!

  2. Vivienne says:

    Would someone from the Cupcake Wars show PLEASE tell us what happens to the loser's cupcakes and displays after each show?

    • ALB says:

      I googled it myself today – we were curious, too – and I found on the USA Today website that they donate them to nearby charities and let the cast and crew take what they want.

  3. Jenifer Diver says:

    My 10 year old daughter and I LOVE this show! She and I cook and bake together all the time. Cooking seems to be a dying art, and I am so happy there are shows like this one to inspire us. We make crazy cupcakes for other people whenever we can. We always figure out what we would make with the given ingredients and dofferent wsys we would decorate them

    If you ever have an amateur mother/daughter episode (with a child daughter of course) count us in!

    Thanks again for bringing me and my daughter closer, giving us inspiration, and making life more fun for us.

  4. Cantheus says:

    BIG YES on the hair thing!!!!
    PLEASE have the contestants tie up their hair or wear a hat or bandanna – ANYTHING – it's absolutely disgusting to watch the show and see long hair hanging down into food and equipment.
    I've been a professional cook for more than 20 years and I can't stand seeing long hair unrestrained in the kitchen – and I suspect many of these contestants KNOW this – but for some reason prefer to look 'cute' on television. This is the only FN show that I can say looks totally unprofessional due to the way they dress and the unrestrained hair. The contestants are all supposedly business owners, bakers, etc – and it really makes them all look like amateurs.
    C'mon Cupcake Wars, clean it up.

    • Risa says:

      Wow….you took the words right out of my mouth! I can't stand to see the contestants baking food for the public with long hair hanging everywhere. It is disgusting and not professional at all….yuk!

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