Normally, the practice of re-gifting – taking a gift one has received but doesn’t like and gifting it to someone else – is generally frowned upon in polite circles. But when it comes to the Holiday Baking Championship, it’s an inventive way to challenge our final four bakers, who this week were given the task of re-purposing ingredients for both challenges, starting with a candied apple.
Adalberto picked an apple covered in white chocolate and dried cherries, and made a beautiful apple frangipane tart accompanied by a cherry and a glaze. It was a really pretty plate – not the prettiest in this round, but apparently the tastiest, as he won the advantage heading into the main heat challenge.
For the main heat, the bakers were given identical gift baskets containing traditional holiday items: pears, pretzels, and chocolate caramels. The bakers were then gifted a bottle of flavored liquor, which Adalberto assigned for his advantage.
Sweet, sweet Haley created a layered dessert using raspberry liquor. While her dessert seemed to tickle the judges' tongues, it was really plain and boring aesthetically speaking. It looked very homemade in the mason jars, which might have given it a “Southern charm” kind of vibe, but it didn’t.
Steve brought his creative edge to his pear and chocolate caramel cake with orange liquor. I really loved the way the toasted pear slice looked on top of his chocolate cake – which knocked Haley’s dessert out of the park on design alone. However, the judges weren’t too pleased with his accidentally hollow-on-the-inside cake.
Maeve, once again, outdid herself in both design and unique flavor pairings; she created a pear and pretzel bakewell tart with coffee liqeur, topped with a beautiful, artistic pear. The judges were in awe and so was I. Unfortunately, there was an unidentified goo between her crust and her pears, and the judges didn’t all care for it.
Adalberto “re-gifted” his flourless chocolate cake – the one he made in the first episode that the judges didn’t like – with brandy liquor. Sliced up, the cake looked amazing, but as it sat as whole, there was waaaaaaaaaay too much going on: he topped it with whipped cream surrounded by filo baskets filled with pears and goat cheese, which ended up looking like crumpled up paper towels. In general, the judges didn’t love the filo baskets but adored his cake this time around, causing him to win this round and sending him into the finale.
Unfortunately, the judges were looking more closely at design than taste this week, which worked against Haley and her minimal mason jar cake but sent Maeve and Steve into the finale, too.