Holiday Baking Championship review: Brie is definitely their jam


Can a touch of savory make Holiday Baking Championship a little brighter this week? A few bakers definitely got their jam on this week.

Holiday Baking Championship gave foodies a special treat in this week’s episode. While everyone might be thinking about cookies and cakes, these holiday pies have a little savory twist. Which bakers got their jam on in this holiday appetizer inspired challenge?

As the episode opens, the bakers get introduced the pre-heat challenge. Inspired by a classic baked brie with jam, the bakers must make brie and jam mini pies. In a way, this idea could be the hit of the holiday season.

Since it is Food Network competition, the bakers must make their own jam. Looking at the jam flavors, these flavor combinations are quite lovely. Who wouldn’t want some spiced pear or apple cardamom with their brie this holiday season?

One of the interesting aspects to the pre-heat challenge was that the bakers had very different takes on the concept of a mini pie. Some pies needed more brie, some needed more jam and one may not have been a mini pie.

This idea of reimaging a holiday appetizer is perfect for the home cook. Instead of the traditional baked brie, why not make a little mini pie. The key is to ensure that the balance of brie to jam to pie crust is right.

Additionally, the home baker doesn’t have to make jam from scratch. She can even boost some store-bought jam. From a splash of liquor to a few herbs, there are many ways to elevate that traditional jar.

Overall, the majority desserts in the Holiday Baking Championship pre-heat were quite good. A couple of bakers infused the pie crust with additional flavors. Anyone adding some cured meat to their pie crust this holiday season?

The judges seemed to appreciate the mini pies that balanced the flavor with decoration. Geoffery received praise for his jam. Dwight had good flavors, but he didn’t really serve a mini pie. Melissa received kudos for her unique approach, but it needed more brie.

Winning the pre-heat was Sarah. The judges not only appreciated her decoration, but they loved her blood orange jam. Given that this jam was probably the most difficult, she executed the dish well.

For her advantage in the Holiday Baking Championship main heat, Sarah was able to choose her required ingredient in the main heat. Given the main heat challenge, this advantage was a good one.

With elimination on the line, the bakers had to transform prepared ingredients onto a novel dessert idea. Since many professional bakers prefer to make ingredients from scratch, this dessert challenge could be a little taxing. Which baker found some creative inspiration?

Hopefully, many home bakers were watching and taking notes. Several of these desserts could easily be recreated at home. Or, the ideas could be incorporated into other homemade desserts. It goes to show that baking creativity and inspiration can come from any type of ingredient.

In many ways, the majority of prepared ingredients were not overly taxing. Chocolate hazelnut, Sarah’s choice, or even pumpkin butter are common dessert ingredients, The key was for the bakers to create something a little non-traditional.

Of course, every Holiday Baking Championship main heat has a twist. This challenge’s twist was that the bakers had to incorporate canned cranberry into the dessert.

Again, this prepared ingredient is quite controversial. Some people love that canned cranberry and others wish that it would go away forever. Still, with a little creativity, that canned cranberry can be made just as tasty as many other prepared foods.

Looking at all the desserts, the bakers who pushed themselves received the judges’ praise. Geoffery create an outstanding pumpkin butter tart with bourbon anglaise. While Nancy wanted more bourbon, the pumpkin butter really came through in each bite.

Also, the addition of the cranberry added a nice contrasting flavor. Lastly, Geoffery created some beautiful decoration for his dessert. He really understands that these holiday desserts require the whole picture.

Jennifer created a holiday dessert that any home cook should definitely try. Using the crescent roll dough, she created a cheesecake napoleon. The fried crescent roll dough was almost like a cinnamon sugar doughnut layer. This idea could become the new quick and easy holiday dessert.

Her dessert found the right balance between elevated and approachable. All the flavors were on point, but more importantly she was very creative. This dessert shows that prepared ingredients can be transformed into a tasty dessert.

For the second week, Jennifer won the main heat. Geoffery was also a top baker. These two bakers, along with Melissa, Sarah and Dwight, are starting to set themselves up for the later challenges. It will be interesting to see which bakers can continue the creativity in the kitchen.

Unfortunately two bakers didn’t impress the judges in this week’s Holiday Baking Championship. Janet made a good dessert, but her dessert was simple. There were no glaring errors, but the judges wanted more.

In some ways, this “more” is a good and bad part of the Holiday Baking Championship challenge. Sometimes a simple, well-execute dessert deserves praise.

Granted, Janet’s cookie butter coffee cake could have benefits from streusel or a little something extra. Still, her flavors were lovely and the texture of the cake was delicious. Why can’t a simple dessert be celebrated?

Cedrick struggled in this challenge. He had several execution issues. While his cake mix tart crust was a good idea, the crust was burnt on the outside. That error was a big downfall.

Additionally, his meringue was too loose. There was a technique issue in that element. From the bland, burnt crust to the soupy meringue, the subtle sweet potato flavor was just lost.

In the end, the judges had to pick the dessert that they wanted to eat again. That dessert was Janet’s cookie butter coffee cake.

Cedrick was sent home in this week’s Holiday Baking Championship episode. From too many errors in the main heat to the mis-steps in the pre-heat, there were too many issues to overlook.

This week’s Holiday Baking Championship episode is a great resource for home baking inspiration. From brie and jam mini pies to transforming prepared foods into delicious desserts, many home cooks could be inspired to get into the kitchen.

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Were you inspired by this week’s Holiday Baking Championship episode? Which dessert would you want to see on your holiday table?