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 this week’s episode.
Pageantry was mixed with Middle Eastern tastes in this week’s Miss USA-themed Cupcake Wars episode. Paying homage to the Lebanese heritage of the reigning Miss USA, our contestants were faced with the challenge of incorporating Middle Eastern flavors into their cupcakes. Three of the four contestants chose pistachios as an ingredient, which at first seems like a great choice, but due to a time crunch, it’s not. Baking with pistachios is extremely difficult as their flavor is very delicate and tricky to emphasize. Both Autumn’s pistachio and orange marmalade cupcake and Teresa’s carrot cupcake blended with spiced pistachios had difficulty accenting the exotic flavors. Brady’s creation had all the makings of a great cupcake with a moist cake and creamy frosting, but he fell short bringing out the flavor of the most delicate ingredient, rosewater. Seda clearly had an advantage being familiar baking with rosewater and pistachios — her cupcake was perfect.
In round two, I was expecting to see a little more glitz and glamour in keeping with the Miss USA theme. Autumn went with very basic, yet classic American flavors like lemonade and apple pie. I could have envisioned her cupcakes at a picnic or barbecue, but they unfortunately did not work for this event. Brady really stepped it up in the creativity department. I had never seen a cupcake baked in an orange peel before and I love when contestants bring new tricks to the table — I will definitely be using that technique on my next camping adventure. Seda’s cupcakes screamed Miss USA with her sparkling decorations.
When it came down to the final two, our display by the runners up was beautiful, but too literal an interpretation. Brady’s modern and distinct display really put a spotlight on his cupcakes and captured the elegance that comes to mind with the pageant. We crowned Brady the winner — perhaps the first man to win a Miss USA competition of any kind.
Bake the winning recipe: Peach-Berry Shortcake Cupcakes