Holiday Baking Championship recap: Ignite the holiday desserts


The winter chill has invaded the Holiday Baking Championship kitchen. In this Holiday Baking Championship recap, the bakers must ignite the holiday spirit, literally.

Now that the final five bakers have made it past the half-way point, the Food Network competition in the kitchen is quite heated. This Holiday Baking Championship recap seems to declare a couple of front runners. While Stephany seems to be on a competitive roll, she has another baker ready to take her spot. The certified master baker has impressed the judges several times. Still, Joshua and even Jennifer have produced some masterful desserts.

In this Holiday Baking Championship recap, the bakers started the episode by playing with fire, literally. Each baker had to create a flambé dessert. Who doesn’t love a dessert that’s been set on fire?

Flambé desserts really bring the holiday spirit to the kitchen. The key to a bold, big flame is high alcohol content. Bourbon, brandy and rums make for great flambés. Also, a really hot sauce can help to create a big flame. With a flambé, go big or go home.

Stephany added a little extra spark to her flambé. A great trick for anyone, throwing cinnamon into a flame can create some little sparks. It’s a great party trick for the holidays.

When a sauce is flambéed, the aromas are released. Think of the flame as a way to aerate the liquor. Just a whiff or two can fight off the winter chill.

The two best flambé desserts were from Stephany and Joshua. Stephany’s presentation was the best. She knows her way around a flame.

Joshua had a very pretty, creative presentation. His dessert was a winter wonderland forest. The devil’s food chocolate cake was light yet quite chocolatey. The cherry sauce played well off the chocolate. Joshua won the pre-heat challenge.

As the pre-heat winner, Joshua gained a sizeable advantage in the main heat. He was able to choose his main heat ingredient and assign the other ingredients to the bakers. It was a huge advantage.

The main heat brought an interesting twist to holiday baking, incorporating a savory ingredient. While adding herbs to desserts is quite popular, some people aren’t quite as confident with those savory flavors. Usually savory chefs and pastry chefs don’t cross into each other’s worlds.

In the main heat, the bakers had to create an innovative cheese cake featuring a savory cheese. Basically, the challenge was to turn the cheese board into a dessert. As the pre-heat winner, Joshua picked goat cheese as his cheese. This cheese was the most common, easiest cheese to use. Winning the pre-heat was a big deal.

The other remaining cheeses, brie, cheddar, blue cheese and feta, weren’t as easy. Some bakers could handle the funk, while others just turned out funky desserts.

Holiday Baking Championship recap, photo from Food Network

The two top bakers were quite clear. Stephany and Joshua were the top bakers. Joshua’s dessert was extremely creative. His goat cheese snowballs were visually stunning and absolutely delicious. The pure white plate was a beautiful winter wonderland. More importantly, his flavors were on point. This dessert was definitely worthy of the title of Holiday Baking Championship.

Stephany hands down had the hardest cheese, feta. Her dessert was amazing. Only a master baker could create a creamy, feta cheesecake that didn’t taste over-salty. Her dessert used the feta smartly. More importantly, her dessert incorporated other Greek ingredients, like phyllo dough. While the dessert wasn’t very colorful, her dessert was quite impressive.

Since both bakers couldn’t win, only one dessert would be crowned the best savory cheesecake. Joshua’s presentation, creativity and flavors earned him the win. He is the first baker this season to win both the pre-heat and the main heat challenge in a single episode.

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Unfortunately, two bakers were in the bottom. Amy and Jennifer were the bottom bakers. Both desserts suffered from the same flaw, lack of cheese flavor.

Jennifer’s cheesecake featured brie. Brie is a very mild cheese. While there was brie flavor, it wasn’t overwhelming. Also, her dessert wasn’t completely a cheese cake. Her dessert was a Paris Brest with a cheese cake filling. Plus, the dessert was huge. It was definitely a dessert for two.

Still, the flavor and presentation of her dessert was good. If this challenge was earlier in the season, she wouldn’t have been in the bottom. As the competition comes to the end, the judges are pickier. Unfortunately, no baker can hide anymore. Even small flaws could send a baker home.

Amy had cheddar cheese as her cheesecake cheese. The judges didn’t feel that Amy incorporated the cheddar cheese enough. No one could taste cheddar in the dessert. When the judges don’t taste the cheese, the baker is in trouble.

Also, Amy’s dessert had a mis-step with her cookie. While the almond flavor was strong, her cookie was a little overcooked. That situation combined with the awkward plate placement caused Amy to be in the bottom.

Looking at the plate as a whole, Amy was sent home. Her dessert wasn’t bad. As the competition comes to the end, the bakers needs to make perfect desserts. Small mistakes turn into big differences at the end of the competition.

Holiday Baking Championship recap, photo from Food Network

With only four bakers left, the Holiday Baking Championship title looks to be decided between Stephany and Joshua. In the past couple episodes, those two bakers have consistently been in the top. Both bakers have amazing baking skills and tons of creativity. But, nothing is ever that simple in a Holiday Baking Championship recap. Like any challenge, there always seems to be a twist.

Going into the final episode before the finale, the challenge will either create an upset or continue the pattern. The only clue to one of the challenges is reinventing the fruit cake. Based on that hint, the trend of Stephany and Joshua in the top should continue. Then again, no one is ever safe in a Food Network competition.

Do you have a favorite baker going into the season’s last two episodes? Who do you think will win the Holiday Baking Championship title this season? Like waiting for those delicious desserts to finish baking, we will have to hold out a little longer to learn the answer.