Monday, November 17, 2014

SalleeShares-Holiday Baking Championship

2013 Mini Snowman Cake by Sallee Bonham 

Anticipation! (sing song voice) I have been anticipating the first episode of Holiday Baking Championship with host Bobby Deen since I saw the first preview and set the DVR to record the series.

Baking is my thing! You know that because you have seen the pics of my holiday cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. 

The Prize Holiday Baking Championship's grand prize is $50,000 and the title, "Holiday Baking Champion."

The Judges
The eight competing bakers met the judges Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes, Nancy Fuller of Farmhouse Rules, and Lorraine Pascal, fashion model and TV cook.

Heat One
Bobby Deen introduced the first sixty minute heat of "Holiday Cookie Madness."
First, each baker unwrapped a Christmas present containing a cooking tool that determined what type of cookie they had to bake:

  • a spatula for layered cookies
  • a French rolling pin for rolled cookies 
  • a cookie press for spritz cookies
  • a scoop for drop cookies

Then, the holiday bakers began creating Christmas cookies, or as Bobby Deen said,"The cookie beast has been awakened!"

Struggling to Bake
At the end of the sixty minute heat, two of the bakers, Stephanie Hart and Terra Nelson, were obviously behind the other six contestants. 

Stephanie stated that she was a cake girl and only baked one cookie. 

Terra struggled with timing. Even using the blast chiller, her HOT layered cookies were difficult to put together with bourbon cream. Yes, bourbon cream! 

Organized and Talented
Even before the judging began, I could tell who was going to be in the lead. Some people just have a knack for being organized and quick, not one wasted movement in the kitchen. I am NOT one of those people and admire the skill.

Erin, Bill, Dante, Punky, David, and Naylet were a joy to watch in the kitchen as they created their version of layered, rolled, spritz, or drop cookies.

First Heat Results
Erin Campbell won the first heat. Her advantage in the main heat was free range of the pantry to pick a substitute ingredient of her choice.

Main Heat Challenge
Contestants must bake 3 different cookies, one dozen of each, within ninety minutes AND use three ingredients. Sounds a bit like the dessert version of Chopped!

And the Ingredients Are...

  1. Bittersweet Chocolate
  2. Fresh Oranges
  3. Toffee Bits
Smart girl Erin used her first heat advantage to substitute peppermint candy for the fresh oranges. The contestants instantly began planning the three cookies they wanted to prepare. 

Host Bobby Deen had a surprise ingredient for all of the bakers to use, raspberry jam. Seriously, this reminded me of the Chairman's Culinary Surprise on ICA. 
However, not one contestant seemed to be thrown off by this addition. All of them knew where and how they would use the raspberry jam. 

Flavor Combos
I loved the flavor combinations chosen by the contestants. 

  • orange ginger - Bill, Stephanie
  • bittersweet chocolate and coffee - Bill
  • orange hazelnut with raspberry- David
  • coffee toffee- David
  • orange rosemary- Naylet
  • pumpkin toffee creme brulee - Erin
  • chocolate raspberry - Dante, Naylet, Erin, Stephanie
  • orange nut - Dante
  • pistachio orange - Terra
  • toffee cinnamon - Terra
  • raspberry orange - Punky
  • toffee cherry - Naylet
  • peppermint hot chocolate - Erin
Mmmmm....makes my mouth water just reading through those flavor combos.

And the Judges Said...
The top bakers were:

  • Erin
  • Bill
  • Naylet - Home baker Naylet won the first holiday bake off! Woohoo Naylet! 
Struggling Bakers

  • Stephanie - cake like cookies. Great taste. Duff admired the fact she didn't have a recipe and baked three tasty cookie. However, they were too spongy. Stephanie was chosen to go home.
  • Terra - She was slammed by the judges for her madeleine cookie. All three judges agreed that it was the texture of sponge cake. 
Safe Bakers
David, Dante, and Punky

I cannot wait to watch the seven bakers on the next episode,"Classic Holiday Flavors."

Cookies I Am Not Familiar With
According to Tori Avey, "Mandelbrot cookies are an Ashkenazi Jewish dessert dating back to the early nineteenth century. Mandelbrot are closely related to the Italian cookies known as biscotti, which were first made in the Middle Ages. The word mandelbrot means almond (mandel) and bread (brot) in both German and Yiddish."

The wiseGeek shares this information,"Rugelach is a Jewish pastry originating in Ashkenazy, or European Jewish, culture. It has many alternative spellings, including rugelakh, rugulach, rugalach, ruggalach, and rogelach in the plural, and rugalah and rugala in the singular. The pastry is also sometimes referred to as a butter horn, nut horn, or cream cheese cookie in the United States."