Tag: Cupcake Wars

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.

Cupcake Wars: Tree Tripping

by in Shows, January 5th, 2011
Candace and her fellow judges are ready to taste some cupcakes. After lots of hiccups this week, one baker hit his stride.

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, Tree People.

Wow, this week’s Tree People episode tripped a lot of people up! From Sara’s broken batter to Stephen’s mixed up frostings, there was upset after upset.

Let’s start with Tonnie. He was the first to go in round one, but felt very confident that he had the best tasting cupcake. And guess what? He was right! Tonnie’s carrot cupcake was delicious, but we couldn’t find a single one of the challenge ingredients! And he wasn’t alone…no one was immune to the missing flavors. All three of the remaining contestants’ cupcakes had no maple flavor!

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Cupcake Wars: Elvis Takes the Cake

by in Shows, December 29th, 2010
Dorothy Tong's cupcakes rocked it out, especially the Elvis, made with bananas and peanut butter frosting.

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, Hard Rock.

There’s nothing more rewarding to me than cupcakes to support a great cause. This week, Hard Rock’s Pinktober event for breast cancer research inspired plates of rosy-hued cupcakes by our equally colorful bakers. In one kitchen, we had burly Bruce in camo, prepared for battle. In another, the demurely aproned Dorothy. It was a reminder that, just like the cupcakes we see on the show, cupcake bakers these days come in all varieties.

Bruce’s cupcakes packed a punch…his Pink Velvet from round one was gutsy with the beet mousse and salmon roe, and the flavors really sang. But his muscle proved his undoing in round two. He showed no restraint with his edible glitter and really doused the plate, making it unappetizing. Dorothy’s cupcakes were diminutive but they each revealed a surprise with their miniature cookie interiors, a cupcake style I have never seen before. The cookie added another textural element but sometimes fell to the bottom of the cupcake and got lost.

Needless to say, with two such different styles, Florian and I were on the edge of our seats awaiting their 1000 cupcake display. With a theme like Hard Rock, maybe Bruce’s irreverent style would have the edge. But our eyes popped when we saw Dorothy’s pink Cadillac roll into the kitchen. Guest judge Romy revealed to us that the pink Cadillac is a major theme at Hard Rock restaurants and particularly at the Universal City Walk – which Dorothy explains was her inspiration. Dorothy was right on the mark and zoomed away with the night’s win. But why do I have a feeling that Bruce will be back…?

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

Cupcake Wars: Gluten-Free Goodies vs. Christmas Cannoli

by in Shows, December 9th, 2010
For the premiere of Cupcake Wars Season Two, Candace loved judging alongside Lash Ferry: "Gift-giver to the stars AND an avid home baker!"

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 the Season Two premiere, Tree Lighting.

If someone had told me that a gluten-free baker would come within inches of winning a Cupcake Wars this season, I wouldn’t have believed it. Having worked with wheat-free flours myself, I know how tricky it is to avoid the gummy, leaden pitfalls of gluten-free baking. But tasting is believing, and Kyra from Crave Bakeshop served up some seriously good cupcakes—gluten-free or not!

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