Top Moments from the Premiere of Holiday Baking Championship

Browse photos from the Holiday Cookie Madness episode and find out which competitors won the challenges, and who ultimately went home.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Jessica Brooks ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

The Chance to Show What They're Made Of

For their pre-heat in this $50,000 competition, eight bakers must create their best cookie for a chance to win an advantage in the upcoming main heat. Each has chosen a gift containing either a cookie press, scoop, rolling pin or spatula — the tool will determine the cookie they must bake.

Pressing Concerns

Bill opens his gift to find a cookie press inside. "I really don't know how to use any of these," he says, looking at the design discs. Luckily he's able to make the press work, turning out ginger and spice wreath shapes he decorates with nonpareils. But the judges find the cookies are lacking in spice.

Hitting Them Over the Head with Flavor

"Mrs. Claus ain't got nothing on me," says David, who's decorating his rolled snowflake lemon shortbread cookies with lemon royal icing. "I want it to be like 'pow' right in the mouth," he says of the lemon flavor, but all three judges agree he went overboard. "Lemon. Definitely lemon," Lorraine says ironically.

Strolling Down Memory Lane

Naylet also found a cookie press in her package. She drizzles her almond butter spritz cookies with a cappuccino glaze, which reminds her of "memories with my mom over a great cup of coffee," she says. The story helps sell the cookies to the judges, who find it wonderful.

Starting Out Sauntering, Ending Up Sprinting

Gifted a spatula, Terra must make sandwich cookies. As a bourbon dessert specialist, she spikes her recipe with the Southern spirit. Unfortunately leaving the baking to the final 20 minutes puts her in a rush: "There's bourbon cream melting everywhere," she says, assembling the cookies down to the wire.

There's Nowhere to Hide When Facing the Experts

"I'm just trying to will them to love my cookie," says Terra upon presenting to the judges. "I didn't taste enough bourbon," says Nancy. And the other judges agree: "I think it could have done with more inside," adds Lorraine, who also found their appearance "not the best," proving Terra was hurried.

The Perfect Cookie in Every Way

Bobby reveals "there was one cookie that was not only beautiful to look at, but had unexpected texture and simply amazing taste." He announces Erin has won the pre-heat with her toffee sugar cookies, which means she will have the advantage going into the main heat. "It feels so amazing," she says.

More Surprises Than They Bargained For

Bobby wheels out a surprise ingredient the bakers must incorporate into their main heat challenge. Now not only must they use orange, bittersweet chocolate chips and toffee bits in their cookies, but they must also incorporate raspberry jam. "Does that come with a gift receipt?" asks David jokingly.

Representing the Old-School Classics

Punky explains to Bobby the first of her trio of creations, her raspberry-filled pinch cookies. "Luckily, I can put raspberry jam as a filling in my pinch cookies," she says gleefully of the last-minute addition. She also will make triple chocolate cookies and toffee icebox cookies, which is her personal holiday favorite.

Putting On the Holiday Spirit

With the advantage, Erin swaps out the fresh orange with peppermint candies to use in her hot chocolate cookies. "It just reminds you of caroling out with your friends," she says of her signature creation. She ends up incorporating the raspberry jam into her chocolate chip cookies, which turn pink as a result.

Knowing How to Deliver on Demand

"Mandelbrot is similar to a biscotti, but it is not a biscotti," Dante points out as he dips each in white chocolate. Taking a cue from the kosher bakery he and his father operated, Dante also makes rugelach and drop cookies. "We made thousands of every kind of cookie," so three isn't a problem for him.

Producing Cookies Off the Cuff

"I'm nervous because cookies are not my strongpoint," says Stephanie. "I'm winging it." She decides to take inspiration from her cake business in coming up with her three cookies: Black Forest cookies, orange and ginger cookies, and toffee pecan cookies.

Standing Up to the Professionals

"I know I'm the underdog," says Naylet about the fact that she's the only home baker in the group, but she's determined to forge ahead. She finishes glazing her orange-rosemary cookies and will also be serving the judges chocolate thumbprints and toffee-cherry rugelach, but a burn sets her back.

From Mixed Reactions to Noteworthy Praise

The judges bite into David's orange-hazelnut thumbprints, which remind Duff of a "breakfast cereal." David's decision to serve a beverage with his cookies pays off, as Nancy finds it "very creative." Lorraine is very impressed with the gingersnaps, saying, "I'd like a box delivered to my room as soon as possible."

Bringing Rustic Charm to the Competition

The judges find the cookies that Erin, Bill and Naylet made the standouts of the bunch, with Duff calling one of Naylet's creations "the best meal of a cookie that we've had all day." Ultimately she impresses them the most. "Winning the first main heat makes me feel like I totally belong here," says Naylet.

Get the Recipe: Orange-Rosemary Cookies with Orange Glaze

"Just How the Cookie Crumbled"

David, Dante and Punky are safe this week, leaving Terra and Stephanie in the bottom two. The judges found Terra's madeleines were too cake-like, and although Stephanie's baking without recipes was impressive, she is sent home. "Unfortunately, I'm a baker of cakes, not so much cookies," she says.

Watch a Highlight: Holiday Baking Previews and Highlights

Go Inside the Holiday Baking Championship

Get more from the competition, get to know the host and judges, and go behind the scenes.

Holiday Baking Championship