Cupcake Wars: Candace's Favorite Episode Ever

Show: Cupcake Wars

Cupcake Wars judge Candace Nelson is the founder and pastry chef of Sprinkles Cupcakes , the world's first cupcake bakery. She joins us on the FN Dish each week to recap all the sweet details of the competition from her seat at the judges' table. Here's what she had to say about last night's episode, Rose Parade.

Let me just start by saying, this was my favorite Cupcake Wars episode ever…and also the most gut-wrenching! These four contestants are incredibly talented bakers and every step of the way Florian and I were devastated to have to choose one to go home.

In round one, Florian and I were literally amazed. It was the best flavor round we’ve ever experienced. It was such a tough round that one simple mistake sent a former winner home: Jessica and her sister are heavy-handed with the orange zest in their frosting and it overpowered the flavor of their vegan carrot cake. Florian and I were sad to see Jessica and her sister go. They have great spirit and are full of surprises. We wonder what we missed.

In round two, Lindsay created a trio fit for a queen and I dubbed her the master of detail. Her fondant decorations were gorgeous and her flower pot cupcake was ingenious. Florian and I were also both impressed at how well the rosewater frosting paired with her red velvet cupcake.

Hollis gave us an amazing trio that included candied ginger, almond-lavender, and a gluten-free chocolate cardamon cake. All of her flavors were complex yet delicate. I felt like I was at a five-star restaurant dessert tasting!

Chloe gave us sweet and homey flavors in simple lace cupcake cups. We were all licking our lips at the pumpkin-cranberry, chocolate-raspberry and chocolate-almond-coffee cupcakes. We all described them as simplicity executed perfectly—they were cupcakes we will crave. Her decorations were lovely but not quite dressed up enough for a queen.

It was a long and heated debate and we pleaded with the producers to bend the rules. Florian and I were desperate to allow all three to stay, but the show must go on, and as mouth-watering as Chloe’s cupcakes were, Lindsay’s intricate fondant work and Hollis’s artful sophistication gave them the edge.

Again it was a close race in round three, as Lindsay and Hollis continued to amaze us with awe-inspiring displays. But, Hollis’s display captured the surprise and wonder of the Tournament of Roses in the same way her cupcakes had surprised us all day.

Bake up a batch of Hollis’s winning Mini Coconut Cupcakes and check out FoodNetwork.com for more about Cupcake Wars, plus dozens of our best cupcake recipes .

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