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.
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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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- Oscar night picks for the young at heart: Dishes to "Like" or "Share" and recipes that are child's play.
Young at heart, or just too cool for school? The cool kids will be on the small screen at the Oscars this weekend. In a Best Picture field crowded with serious films and old-school subjects, two movies stand out for their youthful appeal: The Social Network and Toy Story 3.
All week The Dish is offering winning menus and recipes tailored to the nominees for Best Picture. Today, the tale of a brainy techno-whizkid’s creation of Facebook is food-fighting with the classic toys adventuring as their kid heads off to college.
So, WWMZE? What might Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg eat to celebrate (or not) if The Social Network wins best picture at this weekend’s awards? WWBLE? What might Buzz Lightyear sit down and enjoy if Toy Story 3 rockets to the winner’s podium (and if he weren’t an animated character)? Consider this a friendly foodie faceoff–which of their food picks wins?
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- 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.
- 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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- 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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- Chocolate-Stout Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, decorated with sanding sugar and gummy candy. Photo: Michael Buffardi
Just as important as the question, “What are you dressing up as for Halloween?” is “What are you dressing your cupcakes up as for Halloween?” Take a break from your last-minute Halloween prep and get inspired by some of the best-dressed Halloween cupcakes out there.
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- Competitor Andrea Gaskins's Apple Crisp Bread Pudding
After four weeks of savory showdowns, bakers finally took the spotlight on Ultimate Recipe Showdown last Sunday. The Cakes and Desserts competition was a sweet tooth’s fantasy: Layer cakes, cupcakes, crisps and cobblers, brownies (topped with cookie dough!) and more.
Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford, our in-house URS judge, is back this week to share some tips for baking perfection. And for those days when there’s barely enough time to preheat the oven, she gives her favorite quick and simple dessert ideas.
FN Dish: This round can be tough timing-wise, since most of the cakes have to bake and then cool down enough to be frosted. Any tips for speeding up this process when you’re in a time crunch and need to get the frosted cake to a party?
Katherine Alford: Cakes really do need time to ripen. Not just for icing, but also for flavor. Smaller is better obviously, like a cupcake—they cool down quicker. But always cool a cake on a rack out of the pan, and cool the layers separately. Pop it in the fridge first to cool it down and then move it to the freezer.
FN Dish: Cupcakes are huge right now. Can you make any cake recipe into cupcakes, or are there some that don’t work as well? What should you keep in mind when using a cake recipe to make cupcakes?
KA: Simple cakes often work as cupcakes, but not always. I think chocolate works better. Don’t over-fill the molds and bake for less time. Sarah Copeland, one of our recipe developers and a cupcake expert, suggests, too, that dense cakes (like carrot cake) make better cupcakes. The airy sponge cakes just get flat and tend to leak over the sides. Thick cake batters (dense cakes) hold their shape better and sometimes even dome a touch in muffin tins.
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