Holiday Baking Championship review: Igloo your way to the final four?


As the Holiday Baking Championship nears the finale, which bakers will make the final four? Between Santa boot-camp and igloos, one baker makes an unfortunate mistake.

Holiday Baking Championship can sometimes require some heavy lifting. While those stand mixers do require some strength to lift, Santa needs to be stacked to deliver all those presents. Will these bakers survive the Food Network’s version of Santa boot-camp?

Of course, Holiday Baking Championship isn’t going to transform into a version of the Biggest Loser for an episode. The little quips were done to set the stage for the pre-heat challenge. After all, these Food Network baking competitions always need a touch of humor.

For the pre-heat challenge, the bakers had to create a dessert that looked like Santa. With each baker randomly assigned a dessert, some of the options were easier than others. Then again, creativity (and quick thinking) could convince the judges that one dessert is sweeter than the others.

It was surprising that the bakers really struggled with this pre-heat challenge. Usually, these quicker challenges see the bakers push the flavors levels and the creativity. Could a Holiday Baking Championship baker really not know how to make a cake pop?

Can anyone really grasp that Geoffrey, a culinary instructor, really doesn’t know how to make a cake pop? Yes, cake pops are cheesy, but it is just one of those desserts that is common. Even the best French pastry chef should know how to make some simple desserts. This competition isn’t Best Baker in America.

Candid of Jesse Palmer with art backdrop, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 6. photo provided by Food Network

Overall, these desserts were more holiday nice than Santa jolly. From Jennifer’s wonky Santa Cream Puffs to Geoffrey’s cake pops, there were more misses that hits.

Granted, the limited time can make these bakers a little frazzled. This time, Melissa presented a half-naked Santa stacked cake. It was just a little bit of a strange challenge.

The outcome actually sealed the deal for the oddness of this pre-heat. Dwight was assigned macarons. In a baking error, only half of his macarons were baked. Instead of presenting a full macaron, he presented a stack-aron. It was half a macaron.

The oddest part was that the judges bought the explanation and awarded Dwight the win. Sure, his flavors could have been amazing, but can anyone really believe that the judges didn’t know that this dessert was a mistake?

For winning the pre-heat, Dwight’s advantage was a set of special tools to use in the main challenge. Given the theme of the main challenge, everyone would have wanted this advantage. Still, would Dwight capitalize on his advantage?

In the main heat, the bakers had to create an igloo cake with meringue frosting. Given that Dwight had the exclusive use of certain tools (like a mold and meringue powder, that advantage was a really big one. Still, all the tricks and tools doesn’t necessarily guarantee a spot in the final four.

Also, there twist really gave the bakers a chill on this week’s Holiday Baking Championship. Everyone had to make an ice cream from scratch.

Candid of bakers Jennifer, Geoffrey, Melissa, Dwight, and Sarah, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 6. photo provided by Food Network

This twist turned out better than most. Since the bakers didn’t have to force a flavor into an already started dessert, the bakers found ways to complement the flavors of their igloo. The best flavor combinations definitely earned the judges’ praise.

The biggest takeaway from the igloo challenge was that everyone had penguins on the mind. In some cases, the igloo was the backdrop for the cute penguins at play.

Still, flavor is king of the igloo on Holiday Baking Championship. The best dessert and ice cream flavor combination was clearly Jennifer.

Her chocolate cake, with chocolate and peanut butter mousse, and raspberry ice cream was like an elevated version of a peanut butter and jelly. It had the right flavor balance that played off food memories.

Although her meringue was a little grainy, the numerous, playful penguins offers a festive holiday scene. Overall, she had a well-executed igloo and definitely earned the win.

Given her many wins through the Holiday Baking Championship season, Jennifer should make the finale. Still, she cannot have a bad day in the kitchen.

Host Jesse Palmer with Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman, and Lorraine Pascale, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 6. photo provided by Food Network

In a close second, Sarah impressed the judges. While her buttercream was a touch sweet, her meringue was perfection. Overall, her dessert was a top choice.

The biggest takeaway from Sarah’s dessert was her penguins. The idea of using a mini-marshmallow and gumdrops to create a penguin is adorable. Everyone should remember this decorating tip.

Stuck in the middle was Melissa. Her biggest problem is time management. She never seems to be able to finish a challenge completely. While she always has created, well executed flavors, the decoration is usually missing elements. If she cannot finish a challenge, her place in the finale could be doubtful.

Unfortunately, Geoffrey and Dwight were in the bottom. The judges liked elements of Geoffrey’s igloo. The combination of textures was a huge hit. But, his igloo was a little flat and his decoration was a little wonky.

The most concern element was his gelato. It was definitely over-spun and it was a bad ice cream. This element definitely put him in the bottom.

Dwight, even with his special tools, fell to the bottom. In a way, those extra tools were his downfall. Just like accessories, you don’t have to put on everything at once. Sometimes, less is more.

There were several concerning elements to Dwight’s igloo. From no entrance to a soft meringue, it was mistake prone.

Most concerning was his use of Meyer lemon with his chocolate. That flavor combination was too overpowering and ruined the whole dessert.

Even though he won the pre-heat, Dwight was sent home. It goes to show that each baker is only as good as his last dessert.

With just four bakers remaining in this Holiday Baking Championship season, which bakers could make the finale? The finale spot could come down to a battle between Melissa and Geoffrey. Then again, any mistake could send a baker home.

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What did you think of this Holiday Baking Championship episode? Is your favorite baker still in the competition?