Haunted Gingerbread Showdown review: The Mummy’s Ancient Curse


In the third episode of Haunted Gingerbread Showdown, three new teams must creatively depict a mummy’s revenge. Only one team will advance to next week’s finale and a shot at the grand prize.

After  Haunted Gingerbread Showdown host Clinton Kelly introduces the challenge, the teams will have just twelve hours to assemble their work. Luckily, they had time at home to work on their sculptures.

Kara Foster is a bubbly cake artist from Ohio. She is assisted by Brittany Berquist, her best friend and co-owner of Studio Bakery. Kara’s take on the mummy’s curse is the most unique. She plans to create a massive tree in an enchanted forest. Inside the tree, the mummy awakens inside his tomb. As he does, half of her tree is touched by the curse while the other half remains enchanted.

Meghan Morris is a twenty-two year old recent college graduate from North Carolina. Despite her young age, she has years of experience in gingerbread. She has competed in the National Gingerbread Competition for seven years and placed in the top ten for four of those years. Her mom, Esther, will assist her. Meghan’s mummy has been placed in a sideshow and has awakened to have his revenge.

Speaking of the national competition, Ryan Stipp is pastry sous chef at Omni Grove Park Inn where the competition is held. His assistant is his boss, executive pastry chef at the Inn. His idea is a volcano over a ruined temple full of mummies.

Right away, Ryan is at a disadvantage. He unpacks his volcano pieces to find them shattered. Out of sixty disks and rings of gingerbread, fifty-two of them are broken. Some of them are broken into ten or more pieces. He is looking at a jigsaw puzzle rather than the expected pieces of his structure. As they begin to put things back together and glue them with royal icing, “the duct tape of the pastry world,” Clinton appears.

Clinton announces their twist. They must create a tasting element that seamlessly integrates into their finished work. As the theme is mummies, they must include dried fruit in their treat.

Kara’s  dessert is biting beetles. These are dried apricots, chocolate, walnuts, and spiced rum, all blended up into a no-bake brownie texture. She then covers them with a multicolored mirror glaze and applies little fondant legs.

Our judges, Jamika Pessoa, Jason Smith, and Gessine Prado, love her beautiful, iridescent beetles. Jason wants more rum but they all love the flavor of her treat. Their only complaint is that the legs are a little rough and chunky compared to the beautiful bodies.

Ryan makes “lava rocks.” These are black forest cream puffs. He fills them with cherry compote made from rehydrated cherries, chocolate cremeux, and vanilla Chantilly cream. The judges love the textures in his dessert as well as the flavors. Jason wishes for a bit of salt and doesn’t love the presentation. To be fair, Ryan made black rocks which are hard to make interesting to look at. Maybe black sparkling sugar would have helped, or some representation of red lava for color.

Meghan is nervous as she is going against two pastry chefs. She makes “possessed pumpkins.” These are cake made with pumpkin, ginger, dried cranberries and pecans. After baking, she mushes the cake into balls, coats them in chocolate, and then adds a thin layer of orange modelling chocolate so she can decorate them as pumpkins.

She need not to have worried about her skill level as the judges enjoy her flavors and decoration. Gesine would like if she toasted the pecans and didn’t bake them in the batter. Jason would like more cranberry and is impressed that the cranberries have reconstituted in the cake. Jamika says it reminds her of her grandmother’s fruitcake, though she does find it too sweet.

In the end, Kara earns the advantage which allows her to work while the other two sit out for twenty minutes. She takes her advantage with about two hours left on the clock. She tells us, “I felt really bad pulling that kill switch, but not 25,000 dollars bad.”

One of the best parts of this episode is the banter between the contestants. For instance, while forced to sit out, Ryan calls or whispers Kara’s name, trying to get under her skin. She remains unphased. Another time, when Kara is molding chicken wire for the structure of her tree, Ryan asks her, “so when are the chickens showing up?” She replies, “it has arrived,” referring to him.

When time is called, everyone has an incredible piece to present. Ryan is up first. He presents “Sun God’s Revenge.” His story is that an ancient civilization is constructing a temple to their sun deity. Before they can finish, a volcano erupts and partially destroys the temple. In a fit of rage, the sun god curses the people to live eternally as mummies.

Ryan’s volcano is a huge tower made of gingerbread pieces covered in cereal treats, then coated in royal icing and modeling chocolate. He has shaped the chocolate to have lots of rocky outcroppings as well as faces in the rocks. Dry ice creates mist from the top of the volcano.

The volcano towers over a temple made of gingerbread into which are dremeled windows and doors. Each piece is then given a stucco-like finish with royal icing which he airbrushes. Inside the temple are mummies which he has made by creating modeling chocolate and gingerbread skeletons wrapped in fondant strips, then brushed with cocoa powder for a dirty look.

Everything in the scene is surrounded by an angry ocean made of three colors of poured isomalt. He has swirled the colors to make a multi-colored ocean, and then pinched the isomalt before cooling to create waves and peaks.


The judges love his details- skulls on the temple walls, carving on his columns, the realistic ocean. However, his little mummies are hidden in the temple. As this is a mummy story, the judges don’t want to have to hunt for the mummies. Also, his amazing attention to detail in putting skeletons inside his mummies is lost. Once wrapped, they look like pigs in a blanket according to Jason. Also, the judges feel his towering column doesn’t read as a volcano. He needed to have expanded the base for the more classic triangular shape.

Personally, I think he missed the mark a little in terms of the brief as this was supposed to represent the mummy’s curse but his was actually the Sun God’s curse.

Meghan is next to present her “Sideshow Gone Sideways.” I truly hope she studied art in college as she is incredibly talented. He piece features a huge circus tent. She struggled a little with her tent as the long, curved roof pieces warped. She had to fill in gaps with modeling chocolate to have a complete tent.

Outside her tent are beautiful, detailed posters for each sideshow act, and in front is a sign board featuring the mummy. She also has a ticket booth outside and a cemetery. Each tombstone includes a poem about the death of the occupant. One is about an elephant and out of the dirt rises an elephant trunk as if she didn’t quite fit in the hole.

Through a scary clown mouth opening in the tent, you can see the action inside. The mummy, who was unearthed and placed in this sideshow, has arisen and is taking revenge on the sideshow master. The master has a terrified look on his face. The mummy’s chest bears an enchanted amulet and his power is evident in the cotton candy spiral that goes up through the tent.

The judges love her details and expressive characters. They are impressed that she has used edible fabric for an extra realistic touch to her mummy wrappings. They love her sense of humor, such as the elephant trunk popping out of the grave.

Unfortunately, her cotton candy cursed magic has started to compress and fall off just a bit. Also, her patch of modeling chocolate on the tent is still visible and Jason wishes she had finished the edge of her board rather than leaving it as exposed wood.

Last but not least, we get to see Kara’s project. She presents a massive tree made of chicken wire covered with a gingerbread rice cereal treats. On top of the treats, she has laid individual gingerbread cookie-sized pieces of bark.

On the enchanted side of her tree she has placed a unicorn, gnomes, and a fairy warrior. This side of the tree also features individually painted and applied leaves. On the cursed side of the tree, we see mummies crawling out of the ground, beetles, and other creepy crawlies. Inside the tree lies the coffin of the mummy and his friends and their glowing eyes.

Jamika finds her story to be the most creative, never dreaming to put a mummy in the forest. Gesine loves her bark texture, her leaves, and the mummies’ lit up eyes. However, she doesn’t love the shape of the tree. The tree resembles a tent with small branches sticking out of the top. She made the trunk huge to accommodate the mummy scene inside, but it has thrown off the proportions of her scene. The characters all seem dwarfed by the tree trunk. Jason doesn’t like that she has strung lights through the branches of the tree and the white wires are glaringly visible.

In the end, the judges decide that the best story and presentation belongs to young Meghan. Truly, her piece is amazing and she has a real future in art. Meghan advances to the finale!

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Next week, the winners from our first three episodes meet for one final battle with a Nightmare on Elm Street theme. They all have very different styles and backgrounds. Who do you think can take the prize?