The sweetest Food Network present awaited the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 winner. After seven weeks and difficult challenges, one baker earned the ultimate prize. The train stopped at one station and delivered the big Food Network prize.
Going into the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 finale, the five remaining bakers have had ups and downs throughout the Food Network competition. While Kevin had never been in the bottom two, that fact did not guarantee a spot in the last Main Heat. Ashley had highs and lows, Justine has been on a roll, and Thoa has impressed with her creative flavors and designs. The only baker that has not had a win was Sharrod. Then, again, previous seasons have had a champion who never won a challenge.
Heading into the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 finale Pre-Heat, the bakers had to create macaron wreaths for Santa. While the bakers could choose any flavor, this challenge was technique driven. There is no hiding a bad, incorrect macaron with some sparkly décor.
The Pre-Heat results were clear from the beginning. Thoa, Ashley, and Kevin all moved into the Main Heat. Overall, each of their macarons were correct, although not necessarily perfect. From Kevin’s mango, white chocolate, macadamia nuts to Ashley’s peanut butter and jelly, they were Santa approved.
Winning the Pre-Heat was Thoa. Her peppermint bark macaron had Duff Goldman taking two bites. As Carla Hall said, it “eats big,” which is a huge flavor complement. In addition, her décor was pretty, even if Nancy Fuller thought the colors could be richer.
Unfortunately, Sharrod and Justine had major mistakes. Justine had to remake her macaron batter and her second batch was still incorrect. As Duff mentioned, it was more like a lady finger than a macaron. Even though the dessert was delicious, and could be a winner in a different situation, Justine was headed to the bake-off.
Sharrod had technical issues, too. His macaron was too flat. While the underbaked meringue added to a s’mores like texture, the mistakes were too many. He was headed to the bake-off, too.
In the bake-off, Justine and Sharrod had to create one dozen stocking shaped stuffed eclairs. The dessert had to contain two of the judges’ favorite holiday flavors. The flavors were cranberry (Duff), sweet potato (Carla), and bourbon (Nancy). Both Sharrod and Justine picked sweet potato and bourbon.
Sharrod chose to make a simple éclair with crackle décor. The judges appreciated his sweet potato with bourbon caramel. But, his pate a choux was flat, which was a technical error.
Justine took a more classic, rustic approach to her eclairs. Also choosing sweet potato and bourbon, her flavor profile was subtle. But, her pate a choux had a great rise.
That scenario combined with her pretty décor earned her the win. Justine moved into the Main Challenge, but could she become the Holiday Baking Champion Season 10 winner?
For the Main Heat, the bakers had to create a holiday cake with a train that actually ran through the bottom tier. Each cake was designed to look like a train stop. To earn the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 winner crown, this train better not get stuck at the station.
As the Pre-Heat winner, Thoa was able to choose her theme and assign the bakers themes. Thoa picked penguins for herself. She assigned gnomes to Kevin, elves to Justine, and teddy bears to Ashley.
Looking at the four cakes, the designs were all impressive. Kevin had the least amount of décor. Even though his gnomes were cute, he needed something more with his cake and display. It just seemed to be lacking.
Justine’s cake used a variety of sugar cookies as décor. It was a cute idea, but it was a little busy. She might have used the time to add more items to the center of her display versus all the components on the cake.
Thoa had a rustic and artistic approach to her cake. The hand painting was lovely, but it was the cute penguins with their vignettes that really captured the fun.
Ashley delivered on the cute factor. Her teddy bears were adorable. It felt like scene from a kids’ book. Plus, she covered both the cake and the scene around the train.
While the visual was part of the challenge, the cakes needed to deliver big flavor. Ashley impressed the judges with flavor and texture. Her lemon meringue pie cake earned praise with her graham cracker crust layer. That crunch combined with the zesty lemon was a good choice.
Thoa presented a spiced caramel apple cake. The judges appreciated the cake, but they wanted more apple pie and salted caramel filling. It just needed a little extra boost.
Kevin’s chocolate cake with rum and salted pecan ganache had the judges swooning. It might not have received a Carla “dude” but it was a huge hit. The judges appreciated the subtle rum flavor, the tender crumb, and the luscious ganache.
Justine captured holiday flavor unlike the other bakers. She presented a vanilla cake with an orange brand simple syrup, fig jam, and cookie butter butter cream. The flavor was a home run with the judges.
To be the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 winner, the winning baker needed to capture the whole challenge. It was not just the best tasting cake or the prettiest décor. Both elements had to come together to earn the win.
The Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 winner was Ashley. Her teddy bear design with the lemon meringue pie cake hit both aspects of the challenge.
Looking for more holiday baking inspiration? Be sure to catch up on all episodes on Food Network or stream on MAX.