Tag: Candace Nelson

Cupcake Wars: Off to the Races

by in Shows, June 16th, 2011

cupcake wars episode 1
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.

Cupcake Wars Season 3 opened with an exciting Kentucky Derby-themed challenge that was all about the booze: mint juleps and hurricanes.  Three contestants played it safe with mint-julep inspired cupcakes, but Carla concocted a whirl-wind of flavor in her Hurricane Cupcake, which really impressed us. James and Annette went too easy on the booze, while Tara’s cupcake packed so much it sent her packing. We would have loved to enjoy her fun, spunky personality much longer!

Get the winning recipe after the jump »

5 Questions With Candace Nelson: Cupcake Wars Judge and Sprinkles Queen

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 11th, 2011

Candace Nelson

Candace Nelson, judge and blogger extraordinaire from Cupcake Wars, is about to open her 10th Sprinkles store, finally bringing the “original cupcake bakery” to New York City. We caught up with Candace and got a sneak peek at the new store while she was in town from Los Angeles with the whole family – husband Charles is her business partner at Sprinkles, and they have two young sons.

It’s been a busy week for the Nelsons, who celebrated their first Big Apple store by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and have been riding around town in their Sprinklesmobile, handing out free cupcakes. Sprinkles New York opens its doors this Friday, May 13: “We’re not superstitious here!” Candace says with a laugh.

Read on for the inside scoop on the new location, Candace’s favorite cupcake flavors and her take on the future of cupcakes.

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Cupcake Wars: 170 Cupcakes and Counting

by in Shows, March 16th, 2011
Candace and her cupcake wars colleagues, fellow judge Florian Bellanger and host Justin Willman.

Whew! What a season! Let’s see… 13 episodes, 13 cupcakes per episode. Then throw in a few more tastings after giving comments…that’s over 170 cupcakes tasted in Season Two of Cupcake Wars. By the way, did anyone notice I was pregnant? Seven-and-a-half months pregnant, to be exact. You’d better believe my little baby is going to have a passion for cupcakes!

And what a range of cupcakes I tasted. Everything from the standard red velvet to an exotic oxtail cupcake. We had pros like Hollis and Chloe return, and they baked cupcakes that made Florian and I swoon. And then there were first-timers who got spooked by the clock (remember the unfrosted vanilla cupcake?). Don’t forget the cupcake that never even showed up on the table… our first disqualification ever.

Season Two of Cupcake Wars was full of drama, surprises and wonderful creations. As we gear up for Season Three, I can only expect our contestants to be more prepared and more driven to win. But…how many more times are we going to see bakers get tripped up by kiwi? My best advice for the next batch of contestants: Do your homework and learn what we judges do and don’t like!

I can’t wait to see everyone for new episodes this summer. Until then… stay sweet….keep baking… and keep eating cupcakes. XO, Candace

Craving more Cupcake Wars? Check out behind-the-scenes videos and try your hand at winning cupcake recipes from Season Two.

Cupcake Wars: Bringing Down the (Ice) House

by in Shows, March 9th, 2011
Doron's winning cupcakes, like her "cracked-up strawberry" (center), were delicious AND funny.

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 Season Two’s final episode, Ice House.

I can’t imagine anything harder than being asked to make a cupcake funny! But, our cupcake bakers this week were up to the challenge and I was absolutely tickled by the results. Starting with Round One, Doron used seltzer water in her chocolate cupcake, which led to a fabulously fluffy texture. Mona brought in an entirely new flavor, saffron, which, in Persian culture, is said to make you laugh. Alina created a fun take on a jello shot in cupcake form. And Kim made us a yummy coconut and kiwi cupcake, but the kiwi tripped her up—beware of the kiwi, bakers!—and she was asked to go.

In Round Two, our bakers threw themselves into the task. Doron was gutsy by working with kiwi after it had just sent Kim home. But she pulled it off beautifully and her decorations, which included a word bloop and a “cracking up” strawberry were funny! Most importantly, I couldn’t even tell her cupcakes were vegan! Mona worked with rich, European flavors and the overall theme “they’re all a little nuts” was lots of fun. Alina also did a good job, but her decorations were not on par with the competition.

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Cupcake Wars: Hollywood Glam

by in Shows, February 23rd, 2011
Casey's cupcakes captured the "glitz and glamour" of Hollywood.

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, Walk of Fame.

With Hollywood Walk of Fame as this week’s Cupcake Wars theme, I expected to be dazzled by exciting flavors and glamorous displays. And, certainly, Joanne from Lucky Cupcake delivered some excitement in round one with her martini cupcake complete with olive-mascarpone filling! But, in spite of her gutsy choice and dazzling star toppings, she was tripped up by a baking issue that left her cupcake basically inedible. I was sad that I didn’t get to really try what she could do.

Moving on to round two, I was certainly dazzled by Casey’s glitzy plate of cupcakes, including the rice paper “boa,” and Chrissy’s incredibly delicious cupcake trio. Her Elvis “sandwich,” in particular, is one of the best of this variety I have tasted on the show. Celeste disappointed us, though, with her decorations that felt too plain for the occasion.

In the third round, Casey went HUGE with her display and it was the most spectacular I have seen yet on the show. Although the height of the steps on her display meant guests had to bend over to retrieve a cupcake, there was no denying that she captured the “glitz and glamour” of Hollywood. Casey from Casey’s Cupcakes waltzed away with the prize.

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

Cupcake Wars: Sweet Cirque du Soleil

by in Shows, February 16th, 2011
This week, the win went to Ron for his "cupcake-rockin', lights-a-blazing, show-stopping, gravity-defying Vegas-style display," 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, Cirque du Soleil.

It is only fitting that the Cirque du Soleil Cupcake Wars would be a spectacular ride. This was truly a show of “firsts,” starting with the oxtail cupcake in round one. When people ask me about the most unusual cupcake I have come across in Season Two, it’s this one. Not only does Shaunda claim this distinction, but also the additional distinction of being the first contestant to use every ingredient on the challenge table. This round required two ingredients and she used seven. Wow.

Stephanie, who blew us away with a truly artful vanilla bean-ginger, caramelized pear and Thai basil cupcake in round one, got even more ambitious in round two and didn’t finish in time. It was another Cupcake Wars first. The judges weren’t even allowed to try her beautiful cupcakes. She was disqualified for not completing the challenge.

And, finally, in round three, Ron went all out, giving us the first levitating cupcakes we’ve seen on Cupcake Wars. The win goes to him for his all out, cupcake-rockin’, lights-a-blazing, show-stopping, gravity-defying Vegas-style display!

Bake up a batch of Ron’s winning Oatmeal-Raisin Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting and check out FoodNetwork.com for more about Cupcake Wars, plus dozens of our best cupcake recipes.

Cupcake Wars: Love, Wine, Flowers, Chocolate!

by in Shows, February 9th, 2011
Marilyn's winning cupcakes

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, Valentine’s Day.

I love Valentine’s Day. A holiday devoted to love, wine, flowers and CHOCOLATE seems just too good to be true. And what could be sweeter than a Valentine’s Day episode of Cupcake Wars devoted to just those themes, plus a little cheese? Add Fabio as guest judge and you’ve got the perfect, romantic setting for our contestants to bake their hearts out!

Fabio joined Candace and Florian as guest judge for this episode.

And so they did. Both Marilyn and Bill impressed me from the start. Marilyn with her complex yet delicate cupcake of white wine, pineapple, ginger, goat cheese and sugared almonds… and Bill with his simple and yummy chocolate-Pinot Noir with goat cheese buttercream. But Krista ran into trouble in round one. She had trepidation about her cupcake because she doesn’t drink and was unfamiliar with the challenge ingredients, but what sent her home was a technical baking issue: The cake was missing body and literally sunk under the weight of the frosting.

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Cupcake Wars: A Sweet Ride

by in Shows, January 26th, 2011
Kim managed to make her delicious auto-themed cupcakes look cool and sleek. "Quite a feat!" 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, LA Auto Show.

Cupcakes and cars are an unexpected pairing, and this week’s Cupcake Wars produced anything but expected results!

Kory stalled in the first round, producing a plain vanilla cupcake without any frosting. It was hard for me to believe that with a table overflowing with gas station goodies like nachos, cola and licorice, there wasn’t a single challenge ingredient incorporated into his cupcake! It’s a shame, but it was clear Kory had to go.

In round two, each contestant gave a very different spin on the car theme – Kim went futuristic with silver foil liners and a personalized fondant license plate. Evelyn went cheeky with fuzzy dice and whitewalls, though Brendan thought they were too kitschy for true car enthusiasts. Glenn went classic with an orange cupcake, a woody with surfboard and a whitewall tire cupcake cleverly positioned on its side. We were all a little confused about the orange theme but we hoped he planned to tie it all together in round three. We said goodbye to Evelyn.

Kim and Glenn's auto show displays were both impressive, but Kim's nailed just the right look.

In the third challenge, Glenn’s vintage filling station certainly told a beautiful story, but we find it too quaint for the gearheads at the Auto Show. Kim’s display was a striking mix of lights and chrome, which tied in perfectly to the look of her cupcakes and the theme of the day. She managed to make cupcakes look cool and sleek…quite a feat! Kim drives off with the win!

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

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.

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Cupcake Wars: Wedding Woes

by in Shows, January 12th, 2011
A-list wedding planner Mindy Weiss (second from left) joined the Cupcake Wars judges' panel this week.

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, Wedding Planner.

If I had a fledgling bakery, I would kill to get in front of someone like Mindy Weiss. She’s planned every A-list wedding in Hollywood. On last night’s episode, Mindy came to help crown the next Cupcake Wars winner, so the stakes for these bakers were high.

In fact, the pressure for Melissa proved too much, and my heart went out to her when her caramel bottle exploded in round one and she was unable to complete the challenge. Florian and I applauded her for having the instinct to take a risk and work with an exotic and memorable ingredient like saffron, but when we received our cupcakes without frosting, we had no choice but to send her home.

Round two was similarly clear-cut. Sheila did not put her best foot forward, with decorations better suited for a casual shower than an elegant wedding. However, in round three, our jobs weren’t so easy. Both Jean and Andrea’s displays were beautiful. Andrea’s screamed outdoor wedding and rustic wine country elegance whereas Jean’s possessed a contemporary zen, perfect for a high-end hotel ballroom.

Florian, Mindy and I had to deliberate for longer than normal, but in the end, the lush colors and personalized cupcakes as well as her consistent theme throughout the day meant Andrea was the winner!

Andrea's Raspberry Cupcake with Champagne Buttercream wowed Candace, Florian and wedding guru Mindy Weiss.

Bake up a batch of Andrea’s winning Raspberry Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream Frosting and check out FoodNetwork.com for more about Cupcake Wars, plus dozens of our best cupcake recipes.