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.
What a thrill it was to have world champion poker player Annie Duke as a guest judge this week. She is one smart lady — and a cupcake lover, to boot. In round one, the contestants were dealt the same hand of ingredients, but each team ended up with very different results. Tina’s black truffle “gamble” paid off for the most part, although the black truffle flavor was a bit lacking. Robin and Patric both used the same flavors of strawberry, balsamic and cheese. Robin’s cupcake lacked mascarpone flavor and though I loved Patric’s creation, Florian was not a fan of the watery strawberries, which he believed would quickly result in a soggy cupcake. Sandy ultimately had to go.
During round two, we really started to see the pressures of the Cupcake Wars kitchen getting to our bakers. At the end of Justin’s countdown, we saw Patric and Tina distraught at their lack of decorations. Tina called it an “epic disaster.” She introduced her cupcakes as full house, two-pair and belly buster, clever plays on poker terminology. It was clear that she had delicious, as well as well-conceptualized cupcakes, but we all commented on the lack of appropriate decorations. Patric missed his fondant toppers, but his cupcakes were also not texturally pleasing. Robin gave us a fantastic plate of cupcakes, including the clever “kicker” wrapped in mini cards to symbolize a full house. Both Tina and Robin progressed to round three, with us saying goodbye to Patric.
In round three, Tina and Robin gave us beautiful poker-appropriate displays. Robin created a poker table, but the money completely covered the table, leaving it to look like a banquet table instead of a poker table. Tina’s display was clean, bold and striking. In the end, Tina brought it all together in a Vegas-worthy evening of poker.
Bake the winning recipe: Coconut Cupcakes, Lemon Curd Filling, Coconut-Lemon Buttercream Frosting, Toasted Coconut