Holiday Baking Championship: Holiday desserts get a little nutty twist

Host Jesse with judges Nancy, Duff and Carla announcing winner, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 7. Photo provided by Food Network
Host Jesse with judges Nancy, Duff and Carla announcing winner, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 7. Photo provided by Food Network /

In this Holiday Baking Championship episode, nuts and spices were the star of the plate.

To kick off this Holiday Baking Championship episode, the bakers learned that they couldn’t crack under pressure. While there were plenty of nutty puns, the real challenge was using nuts in a creative holiday dessert. After all, even a festive nutcracker could fall to the bottom of Santa’s naughty list.

For the pre-heat, the bakers had to create a holiday dessert featuring a particular nut. Given all the various nuts, these bakers really had an opportunity to showcase their creativity. While many of the bakers are excelling in flavor, the appearance of those holiday desserts might deserve a lump of coal.

Over and over, the judges seem to make a similar comment on all the recent Holiday Baking Championship challenges. The flavors are superb, but they would rather eat with closed eyes. It seems that the old saying, you eat with your eyes, has been forgotten by these bakers.

While the visuals have been an issue, some of the bakers are going too simple. Yes, a great cupcake is a tasty treat, but this competition is a Food Network show. The bakers need to do more than what everyone has been doing in quarantine.

Winning the pre-heat was Jamaal. While his cinnamon rolls were definitely not visually pretty, they earned a high praise for the judges. Since he did a yeast cinnamon roll (which had to proof twice), the judges appreciated his risk. For that big risk, he reaped big rewards.

Although Jamaal earned the coveted, pre-heat win. Everyone had to wait to learn about his advantage during the main heat.

Holiday Baking Championship main heat
Jesse Palmer with wheel of desserts and naughty or nice board, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 7. Photo provided by Food Network /

For the main heat challenge, the bakers had to “holiday up” non-traditional holiday desserts. From Lemon Meringue pie to a fruit tart, these desserts generally do not have a holiday twist.

As the baker spun the wheel of desserts, those required flavors or ingredients seemed to pair reasonably well with the desserts. The bigger problem was some of the desserts. Asking the bakers to create an ice cream cake in such a limited time was like receiving an orange in your Christmas stocking. Sure, it’s a gift, but you would rather have some chocolate, instead.

Of course, there was a twist to the challenge. As the winner of the pre-heat, Jamaal was able to choose a fruit that all the bakers had to use. While he could have been nice and used an easier fruit, he picked mango. Although that fruit worked well in his fruit tart, it was incredibly cruel to some bakers.

After all the bakers presented their desserts, the biggest takeaway was a similar statement from the pre-heat. These bakers know how to cook, but their decoration is lacking. From Nancy saying that she missed the holiday feel to Carla commenting about the dessert better from a distance, it is concerning.

Holiday Baking Championship
Kess process, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 7. Photo provided by Food Network /

Unlike other seasons, the Holiday Baking Championship bakers seem to be missing the visual. From simple to just rushed, these bakers need to get their act together. There are only so many times that judges can overlook another “rustic” dessert.

With the addition of the naughty or nice list, it is curious that the majority of the bakers tend to go from top to bottom and back again. Sure, Juliana has been in the middle over and over, but the other bakers keep moving around.

Looking at this week’s top bakers, the two successful desserts really found a connection between the dessert and their holiday memories. Jeff, aka Santa from Atlanta, transformed his lemon meringue pie with a beautiful meringue but the angel decoration had a personal connection.

For Lorenzo, he was able to transform that key lime pie both visually and flavor wise. The Christmas ornament was picture perfect but the flavors were on point.

In the end, Lorenzo won this week’s Holiday Baking Championship episode.

Holiday Baking Championship Season 7 episode 2
Bakers Eva, Lorenzo, Megan, Kess, LaShonda, Jon, Julianna, Aubrey, Jamaal and Jeffrey learning preheat topic, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 7. Photo provided by Food Network /

Unfortunately, the bottom two bakers were Jon and Aubrey. Last week, Jon was a top baker. But, Jon doesn’t step away from his familiar. He might be a great cake maker, but this Food Network competition is more than just cakes.

Still, looking at his tart, it was pretty. Unfortunately, he had technical issues. A baker at this level should not present under cooked dough.

Aubrey had issues in both challenges this week. In the main heat, her holiday ice cream cake looked unfinished. Yes, it was a hard challenge, but it was the hand that she was dealt. In the end, Aubrey was eliminated.

Looking ahead to next week, it will be interesting to see if the bakers can produce visually interesting desserts. Of course, they still need to execute those holiday desserts, but the judges are tired of wearing blindfolds while eating these desserts.

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What do you think of this season of Holiday Baking Championship?