The bakers in the Great White Tent were given the challenge of making 24 éclairs — 12 each of two different flavors. I chose to make Key lime éclairs topped with toasted Swiss meringue and chocolate éclairs filled with a stracciatella cannoli filling.
Dobos torte is generally made with five to seven thin cake layers filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. My Coffee and Walnut Dobos Torte consists of two tiers of six layers each, one filled with coffee buttercream and one with praline buttercream. The cake is flavored with finely chopped walnuts and covered in chocolate ganache.
The inspiration for my three-tiered pie tower comes from the turducken, which is a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. Rather than debone and stuff three kinds of poultry, I made a separate pie for each bird, dubbing my creation “a poultry excuse for a pie tower,” otherwise known as a Fowlty Tower. While the turkey pie is the epitome of comfort-food-in-a-crust, the duck pie is a gourmet feast of flavors. The chicken curry pie offers a nice contrast to the other two — the warmth of the curry offset by the slightly sweet mango chutney.
Originally called Omelette Norwegge by the French, Baked Alaska was renamed this side of the Atlantic to mark the purchase of the Alaskan territory by William Seward. My Baked Alaska was inspired by the frozen Italian treat spumoni and features a pistachio joconde sponge, chocolate ganache and cherry almond ice cream. It takes cake and ice cream to a whole new level!
The brief for this showstopper challenge was a 3D biscuit scene, so I decided to make something reminiscent of my own childhood, The Sledding Hill. Using gingerbread for the base, I covered it with fondant and meringue "snow," then added gingerbread people and nut-shortbread trees.
Thanks to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, lemon and elderflower cake has become a modern classic. These mini cakes have lemon zest and elderflower cordial baked into the batter, but the flavor is enhanced by drizzling more cordial over the warm cakes and sandwiching the layers with fresh, bright lemon curd. Moist without being heavy, these cakes taste like spring and are definitely moreish!
With changing leaves and sweater weather come fall treats like caramel apples, chai tea and spicy hot chocolate! My 3-tiered cake is an homage to my favorite flavors, ranging from praline and coffee buttercream to spice cake with a salted caramel drip!
The inspiration for my opera cake came from the popular ‘70s dessert, the Watergate cake. My interpretation of the Watergate cake in operatic form was to make a pistachio joconde sponge brushed with a pistachio syrup and layer it with coconut Swiss meringue buttercream and pineapple filling studded with pecans. I finished it off with a thin chocolate glaze.
The brief for this challenge had three components. It had to be completely dairy-free, it had to be a vegetable-based cake (think carrot or zucchini) and it had to be in a 3D novelty shape. Mine is a red velvet beet cake in the shape of a coconut cocktail on a sandy beach.
Because the week I made these fell toward the end of Wisconsin strawberry season, I wanted to celebrate this short but oh-so-flavorful season with strawberry-themed pastries: strawberry mille-feuilles with basil-infused mascarpone cream, strawberry Nutella turnovers and chocolate pecan palmier "butterflies" with strawberry hearts.