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 for more about Cupcake Wars, plus dozens of our best cupcake recipes.

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Comments (23)

  1. That was my favorite episode, too….although I've never tasted anything vegan that I've liked, I'd sure give a cupcake a taste or two :)

    I thought some of the decorations were ingenious and so pretty…especially the spun sugar bird nests!

    • Teresa, I very suddenly became lactose intolerant at 35 (as you can imagine, a huge blow to a baker & huge fan of cupcakes!) "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule" is a wonderful, less than $10 cookbook i recommend to bakers who have special food needs or just want a really yum cupcake. One thing about cooking vegan is there's a lot more "room" for flavors, we use a lot of pure extracts with no additives so you are getting a wonderful coffee or chocolate or fruit flavor. Yummy! I appreciate that on Cupcake Wars, there's room for all of us at the table! :)

  2. Tina Nobles says:

    I agree with the spun sugar birds nest. Very ingenious and a little risky to add to the cupcakes considering the time limit. But, have to say absolutely gorgeous. Would love to sink my teeth into them… would be pure heaven! Have to say, out of all the desserts I make, which are quite a few, cupcakes (even the basic simple everyday ones) are my absolute favorites!

  3. Carol says:

    I like the show, but I find it very hard to believe that the FN producers don't make the cupcake bakers pull their hair back. In this episode, almost every one of the ladies who were baking had long hair that was hanging over the bowls, touching the utensils, etc. It's so unprofessional. As a Food Network show, it seems discordant that Anne Burrell is adamant about cleanliness in the kitchen on Worst Cooks in America and then it's a hairy mess over at Cupcake Wars. Yuck!

  4. I really like this show! I love cupcakes and how they can be both delicious and little pieces of art. Every episode makes me want to bake. Thanks Candace – both for Sprinkles and this fun show.

  5. Ric says:

    what happens to the "losers" 1000 cupcake display and cupcakes?
    haved never figured this out..lots of good displays and cupcakes going to waste

  6. Lisa says:

    Agree with the hair thing. In any professional food establishment, hair needs to be tied back and restrained in some way. Why not your show? Those cupcakes are going to patrons of some type of event. Would they want someone's hair in their cupcake?

    Did I happen to see a "baby bump" Candyce? Congrats if your with child.

    • Briana says:

      Ohhhh goodness, never tell a woman she looks pregnant unless she has announced it, owee!
      I am glad i'm not the only one who is bothered by the hair issue. Why in the world, when these cupcakes are going to be eaten, us hair not at the very least pulled back? Maybe Food Network will notice and do something? Or i'm a silly optimist? :)

  7. FromScratchSF says:

    I have been dying to get on this show, and this is literally the 1st episode I've watched and knew that if I was there, I would not have won. When Hollis started rattling off the components to her 1st cupcake I though, "Yeah, right. This is going to end horribly for her". And then she finished, and I was speechless. Followed up by her next 3? Yeah, total champ in my book.

    I also agree with the hair thing, it should be pulled back. Not only is it a sanitary thing, it's a safety thing, I've seen hair caught in mixers, ovens, bins, racks… with the way those gals run around I wonder how many accidents happen that are not shown on the broadcast?

  8. Stefani says:

    There is only one show a week my kids and I (and husband) watch religiously….and it's Cupcake Wars. We love the challenge the competitors have with regards to putting unusual ingredients into cupcakes; I can just imagine the challenge of making the odd ingredients shine. It can get so suspenseful, in a good way. I simply LOVE Candace. She is so spunky and well spoken, not to mention she is stunningly gorgeous!
    I really hope this show lasts forever. Again, it's our family's favorite!

  9. Semdog says:

    I think Lindsey should have won! Her display was stunning! And her cupcakes, the judges loved them! Hollis went all weird with birds nests and a hot air balloon to inspire dreams to take flight! The judges aren't looking for celebrating all the princesses of the world and all that stuff.

  10. Maria says:

    I think Lindsay and Chloe should have been the two to make the 1,00 cupcake display!!!!!!

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