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.
This week’s Cupcake Wars was a heated competition as our bakers fought to have their cupcakes showcased at the US Open of Surfing. Round one transported us to the birthplace of surfing, Hawaii, complete with unique tastes of the islands. All contestants worked with either canned ham or tuna — a risky proposition and difficult to master. Shannon’s slider cupcake was interesting, but missed the mark with its mushy, taro-root frosting. Stephanie’s coconut lime cupcake was soggy with infused pineapple juice — I needed a wetsuit just to handle it.
Kirby whipped out skills she learned as a classically trained French pastry chef with her delicate meringue buttercream frosting and light-brown sugar pineapple cake. Her cupcake took the gold medal. Then came our friend Angelo who baked with precarious ingredients like tuna, avocado and ginger. With such difficult components, I was at a loss as to why he would add large dollops of mayonnaise to the cupcake. Angelo wiped out and was sent home.
In round two, Shannon’s plate incorporated a brilliant combination of coconut, pineapple and macadamia nuts. My one complaint was that her energy-drink cupcake lacked a lift. Stephanie shined with her beautifully decorated oceanic-treasure cupcake. I dived right into her lemon-infused cake with blueberry compote and citrus frosting — it was divine and made me feel like it was summertime on the beach. Kirby’s plate of tropical cupcakes was a beach bummer. After sweeping us away in round one, I had higher expectations for her. She was ultimately sent home.
Both Stephanie and Shannon created displays that would incite a shark-like feeding frenzy at the US Open of Surfing during round three. It was a close call between Shannon’s literal interpretation of surfboards misted by dry-ice effects and Stephanie’s abstract and dynamic wave of cupcakes. I loved seeing the cupcakes hang ten on both displays, but the judges agreed that Stephanie’s gravity-defying display was the gnarliest.