Top Moments from Holiday Baking Championship, Season 2

Browse highlights from Season 2 of the show and find out which bakers won challenges and who was sent home.
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Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Episode 1: Going Nuts for the Holidays

"What would a holiday party be without a bowl of nuts and one of these guys?" host Bobby Deen says to the 10 bakers who've entered the competition, motioning toward a table of nutcrackers, each one labeled with a type of nut. In the Pre Heat challenge, the bakers must incorporate chocolate and a nut into their baked goods. On the line is an advantage in the Main Heat.

Deadly But Seriously Determined

"All I can think to myself is, 'Do not touch these nuts.' I do not need to die on my first challenge in this kitchen," says Steve, who is allergic. While cracking all the pecans for his spiced chocolate chiboust, he cuts himself through his gloves. "Are you still alive over there?" Maeve asks. "Y'all can't get rid of me this quickly," he retorts, but unfortunately, he doesn't finish all his plates.

Layers and Layers of Surprises

"Every Christmastime when I was small, my best friend's grandmother would always have leftover challah," says Padua, describing the inspiration for his bread pudding. "This is quite a multifaceted dessert," says Lorraine Pascale after finding white chocolate in the bottom of the ramekin. "You have to go spelunking," Duff Goldman jokes. The judges agree Padua's is the best dessert, and he earns the advantage in the Main Heat.

Facing Her Pie Problems

"Pie crust has always been my nemesis," says Susan when she finds out the bakers must make a decorated pie in the Main Heat. Luckily, Susan's cherry pie filling comes out fine, but when it comes to her "sawdust" dough, it's a different story. "It's going to be the monster crust that ate the judges," she worries. "It's a refreshing pie to eat," Duff tells her, and Nancy Fuller calls the crust "perfect." Bobby reveals that Susan's pie "really brought home the holiday spirit," and she wins.

It's Really What's on the Inside That Matters

"Now the only problem is it's got to be a decorated pie," says Joe, looking for something to make his apple rum pie unique, since Padua got all the cutters as part of his advantage. "The way the pie looks really sets up the anticipation of taking a bite," says Duff. But as soon as Joe cuts in, he realizes it's underbaked. Lorraine calls him out for spending too much time focusing on the outside rather than on the inside. Joe is the first to be sent home.

Episode 2: Plating a Peppermint Bomb

"You don't want to add too much peppermint," Melody tells Adalberto when he comes to borrow the peppermint oil for the Pre Heat challenge, which has the bakers using peppermint flavors. He adds the extract to his pots de creme, but when the judges take a taste, their faces say it all. "If that was a cartoon, like, I'd have heat coming out of my ears," says Lorraine. "Stay away from peppermint," Nancy warns him.

When Plan B Isn't Any Better

"This is an ambitious dessert," Melody says, describing her peppermint creme brulee to Bobby, but unfortunately it's not baking fast enough, so Melody starts on plan B. She decides to make chocolate lava cupcakes, but her buttercream doesn't set up. "It's not a looker," Lorraine points out, and Duff calls it "busted." Lorraine tells Melody, "Thank God this isn't an elimination challenge."

The Value of Impressing an Expert

"I'm a little leery about putting a scone in front of Lorraine," says Susan of her peppermint scones, but she's taking the chance. After some silence, Lorraine says she loves it. "I definitely want to eat that whole thing," says Duff. The judges all agree the peppermint flavor really came through. Susan goes on to win the Pre Heat. "I better keep my eye on her," says Steve enviously.

Setting the New Baking Trend

Making three different types of cookies, Steve wants to create a monochromatic design that he feels is on trend. "This is going to scream holiday wreath extravaganza," he says. "I dig it," says Duff. "I can imagine it on a door in a lifestyle magazine," Lorraine says. Bobby names Steve, Susan and Adalberto to the top three, with Steve winning the Main Heat. "I feel like twinkling my mistletoes," he says.

Bad Wreaths Get the Judges' Wrath

"I have no idea how to make a holiday wreath," John says of the Main Heat challenge, and he's not happy that Susan won all the decorations as her advantage. "It's O-V-E-R for me," says Maeve after she finds out she has 10 minutes left to finish her trifle after spending so much time decorating. Duff calls out both bakers for their unsuccessful decorations, and both are in the bottom two. John is eliminated; Maeve thanks her lucky stars. "[It's a] Christmas miracle," she says.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

Episode 3: Thinking the Grass Is Greener

"Are you serious?" asks Melody, who gets turkey as her theme in the whoopie pie Pre Heat. But she soon feels more confident: "I'm the first one in the oven." However her decorating skills are a different story, but Susan's aren't any better. Susan cuts out cake rounds and fills them with pumpkin mousse, then decorates them with faces. "I feel like I still have a chance," says Melody after seeing Susan's dessert.

Pushing the Boundaries of Whoopie Pies

"I'm deliberately going outside of the normal shape," says Steve, making his devil's food whoopie pies in doughnut molds. And because his theme is Pilgrim, he decorates them to look like belts with buckles. "I'm not sure that it looks like a whoopie pie," says Nancy. "To me this is just a whoopie pie with a hole in it," Lorraine says, disagreeing. In the end Steve and Melody are in the top two, but Steve wins.

It's Not What's on the Outside That Counts

With his advantage Steve gets first pick of candies in the candy-stuffed cakes Main Heat. Choosing peanut butter candy pieces, he's inspired by PB&J sandwiches to create a vanilla cake with raspberry jam and peanut butter mousse. "I haven't even started working on my decoration," says Steve as the clock counts down. "It's not looking very good," Lorraine tells him. Luckily the judges find it delicious despite its looks.

A Secret Ingredient for the Win

"I am making a chocolate beet cake," Melody tells Bobby, assuring him the beets will add moisture. Lorraine says, "You don't get the beet flavor, but you get the richness of the color." The judges also enjoy Adalberto's sour cream pound cake, decorated as a turkey. "This cake is the best thing that you've baked on the show so far," Duff tells him. Both bakers are in the top two, but Melody wins the challenge.

A Christmas Cake with a Funny Story

Susan decides to bake a strawberry white cake in the shape of an ornament using dome pans. "This looks like clam chowder in a bread bowl," she says, attempting to scoop out the centers, which are still raw, so that she can fill the cake with candy. But as Susan frosts the cake, it cracks. "This is a Christmas ornament that looks like Santa sat on it," she tells the judges. "I don't think it's your best work," Nancy tells her. In the end Susan finds herself in the bottom two along with Briana, and Susan is sent home.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

Episode 4: Great Minds Bake Alike

"Are we making the same thing?" Melody asks Padua, who keeps coming over to Melody's station to borrow the spices. "I'm thinking mine's going to be better," Melody says, realizing they're both making some version of a pear and cranberry crumble or crisp with creme anglaise for the Pre Heat. Although the judges like Melody's crumble, they can't get over Padua's crisp and he wins the challenge.

Everything's Bigger in America

"I actually make mine a little bigger," Haley says, describing her petit four to Bobby. She covers the cakes with poured fondant, but she accidentally adds too much almond extract. "I hope the judges won't notice," she says. "This is an American Thanksgiving petit four," Duff says, laughing about the size. "I would call this a petit 40," Lorraine tells her. "I'm just getting almond and nothing else," Nancy says disappointedly.

Squashing the Competition

As part of his advantage, Padua gets to assign his fellow bakers the harvest fruit or vegetable in the Main Heat. "Padua doesn't know it, but he gave me a holiday gift," says Adalberto, who's turning his assigned butternut squash into a pudding filling for his sponge cakes. Unfortunately he cuts himself while peeling the squash. But it's all worth it when he hears the judges' comments. "You've done something risky and you've executed it very well," Lorraine tells him. Adalberto wins the challenge.

Sweet Potatoes, Sour Comments

"I'm really excited," says Melody, working with sweet potatoes, which she wants to swirl into a cheesecake. Once she starts cooking her assigned ingredient in the pressure cooker, she realizes it's slow going. "It's 'go time,'" she yells, once the sweet potatoes finish cooking. But she's worried about her dish and decides to whip up a custard out of the leftover potatoes. The judges really don't like the custard or the sauce, but luckily they like the cheesecake.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

Baking It and Eating It Are Two Different Things

"I've never made a carrot cake, but I have eaten it several times," says Briana of her assigned vegetable. "I've caught onto the game," she tells Bobby when he asks her about being in the bottom last week. "This is almost savory," Duff tells her upon tasting the sandwiched cake, saying all that's missing is smoked salmon, likening it to bagels and lox. "Padua did not do you a favor," Nancy jokingly tells her. Briana ends up in the bottom with Haley, whose fig pinwheels were too simple. Briana is sent home.

Episode 5: Trying to Bake Up to the Challenge

"I feel like I drank a whole bottle of cologne," says Haley upon tasting the candied ginger the bakers must use in the Pre Heat. While making gingerbread cupcakes she realizes she's left out the baking soda and has to start all over. "I already know what Nancy is going to say," says Haley, worried the judge will point out the flaws. Lorraine and Nancy both feel Haley's cupcakes don't have enough ginger, but Duff disagrees.

The Ginger Was Lost, Now It's Found

Steve starts on gingersnap cookies for ice cream sandwiches. He uses dried ginger, fresh ginger and the candied ginger to ensure the flavor is there. After the judges find most bakers didn't use enough ginger, he starts worrying, but luckily the feedback is positive: "You've really done a good job of balancing ginger in the cookie," says Lorraine. Steve wins the Pre Heat and with it a 10-minute head start in the Main Heat.

Delivering on Her Promise

"I am an awesome cookie baker," says Melody after hearing the Main Heat requires three different cookies. She decides to bake each one dedicated to one of her sons. Unfortunately her cinnamon cookies get too dark, and she makes another batch. Luckily it works and receives some great comments: "I got the wonderful smells of the holiday," says Lorraine. "This is a $50,000 cookie," Nancy tells Melody.

Redemption, Worth a Second Taste

"It's coming back," says Maeve, remaking her ginger chew recipe, this time not holding back on the molasses. "This ginger chew better be like God himself had made it," she says. "I like your moxie," says Duff. "Why didn't you make this in the first round?" he asks her after finding the cookie delicious. "I have not won anything," says Maeve, hoping the challenge is hers. Although Maeve makes it to the top two, Melody takes the win.

An Accident Leads to an Elimination

"Time is ticking away, so I'm rushing," says Padua, tapping his mixer blade against the side of the glass bowl. But in doing so he chips the bowl. "I'm officially screwed," he says as he discards the dough. Instead of starting over, he uses an extra batch of shortbread dough to make his snickerdoodles. "Which is it?" Bobby asks Padua to point out the cookie. "You really do only have two cookies on this plate," says Lorraine, and Padua ends up in the bottom two with Adalberto; Padua is sent home.

Episode 6: "Mazel Tov, Y'all"

Duff stops by to help announce the bakers' Pre Heat, which will have them modernizing the traditional Hanukkah cookies of rugelach and macaroons. "I've gone too long being safe," says Haley, aiming to impress the judges with her treats. "If the macaroons that I got when I was a kid tasted like this, I might have had more macaroons," says Duff about her orange-and-pistachio rendition. Haley ends up winning an advantage in the Main Heat.

Creamy Miscalculations

"They did not have a lot of croquembouche in Beaverdam, Ky.," says Haley, learning what the Main Heat will be. Luckily she gets 10 minutes of help from last season's winner, Erin. When it comes time for filling the cream puffs, Haley tells Erin to pipe them half full. But the decision comes back to bite her: "Where's my cream?" Nancy asks her, holding up a teaspoon of the filling she's scooped out of her cream puff.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

Delivering on the Crack

"I've only made a croquembouche once," says Steve. "It usually takes two days to make," he adds. Taking inspiration from The Nutcracker, he plans on creating a snow-blown tree of pumpkin-filled cream puffs. He makes a classic hard caramel to help him glue the pastries into a towering shape. "Could you hear mine?" Duff asks his fellow judges as he's crunching on a bite. He not only compliments the pastries but also the stylish look of Steve's croquembouche.

Pushing the Envelope of Flavor

"I am pulling out every flavor combination in the darkest secrets of my soul," says Maeve, on a mission to finally win a challenge. She fills her cream puffs with vanilla cream and a paste of quince and prickly pear. "You think about flavor and it's really evident," Duff says, complimenting her unique combination. "I like that you stayed true to your Irish roots," Lorraine tells Maeve about her use of treacle instead of the typical caramel. The judges place both her and Steve in the top two, but Maeve wins the challenge.

Caramel Conundrums

"I make cream puffs every day in my bakery," says Melody, feeling confident about the challenge. Unfortunately she burns herself reaching for her pot of caramel. "Part of me just wants to throw in the towel," she says, but she hustles to build her croquembouche as best she can. "I'm like, 'Please don't break the judges' teeth,'" Melody tells Nancy of her caramel. "No, it didn't; it glued them together," Nancy responds. Melody and Haley end up in the bottom, but Melody is sent home.

Episode 7: Changing Their Minds About White Chocolate

"This is not good," says Adalberto, who must repurpose a white chocolate candy apple in the regifting-themed Pre Heat. Knowing Lorraine and Duff are not fans of white chocolate, he'll have to work some magic, as will Maeve, who gets a similar candy apple. She's making an apple cheddar tart, and Adalberto is making an apple frangipane tart. Lorraine calls Adalberto's flavors "flawless," and she loves Maeve's tart, saying it's "a whole new experience."

A Constantly Shifting Game Plan

Making a cinnamon apple tart, Haley plans to roll it up to look like a rose, but it's not turning out as she imagined. "I have to completely change my idea," she says, eventually layering a chocolate and apple filling into her tart shells. "This is more like plan D," Haley admits to the judges. "This is drier than a burned boot," Nancy tells her, despite liking Haley's flavors.

Unpleasant Baking Surprises

"The gauntlet has been thrown," says Maeve, losing the Pre Heat to Adalberto. For the gift-basket-themed Main Heat, she makes a Bakewell tart topped with poached pears. Unfortunately after her assembly the tart starts to seep, and Duff calls her out on the "goo" that's developed under the pear layer. Steve also doesn't get the best comments on his pear cake. "My cake is gone," whines Nancy, finding it hollow.

Giving a Gift Back Again

"I want to regift to the judges the first cake I ever made for them," says Adalberto, baking a newer version of his flourless chocolate cake, topped with phyllo pear parcels. With the advantage he assigns differently flavored liqueurs to his opponents, keeping brandy for himself. Nancy finds the faintest brandy flavor and is reminded of her grandmother's chocolate cream. But Duff and Lorraine think Adalberto didn't need the parcels, or "wontons" as Lorraine calls them.

Playing It Too Safe

"I really need to just get my momentum and confidence back," says Haley, hoping to succeed in the Main Heat. She decides to layer a dessert in Mason jars starting with a pretzel crust, then pastry cream, cooked pears and chocolate-caramel ganache. The judges find Haley's dessert delicious, but Lorraine points out it's too simple. Despite mixed reviews, Adalberto wins the challenge, leaving the other bakers up for elimination; in the end Haley is sent home.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

One Last Chance for an Advantage

"I have been praying for a challenge in my wheelhouse," says Maeve, using her mom's recipe for the Pre Heat, which has each of the final three bakers making sugar cookies to decorate a tree. "I would have liked to have seen a little bit more sparkle," Lorraine tells Maeve, who reveals she got more glitter on herself than on the tree. Maeve wins her first advantage in the competition.

Risking It All for a Sleigh

"Nothing could be more perfect for the finale than picking sleigh ride," says Maeve, choosing the winter activity as inspiration for her cake in the Main Heat. She decides to pipe a sleigh out of isomalt to top her hot cocoa cake. "Everything depends on this sleigh," she says. "I've come so far that no amount of pain will make me stop piping," she says, handling the molten sugary liquid.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

Expressing the Holiday

"This cake has to be perfect," says Adalberto, trimming the layers to create a huge cone shape to mimic an evergreen for his tree-trimming theme. "My inspiration is my beginnings," he tells the judges, humbly. "You brought me holiday," Nancy tells him. "Your sponge is very, very dense," Lorraine points out, and Duff feels the buttercream coats his palate "and you can't taste anything else."

Capturing the Spirit of Summer?

"The first day I thought I was going home, but instead of giving up I pushed through and here I am in the finale," says Steve, who presents the judges his mascarpone-and-berry filled cake decorated with music lyrics, taking inspiration from carol singing. "This makes me think of sitting by the pool in July," says Duff, not sure about its summery feel, but Steve claims it's "more refreshing" than the typical offering.

Riding Into the Win

Maeve cites a sleigh ride with her husband through Central Park as the inspiration for her cake's design. "I haven't seen you do sugar at all, and it's really, really nice," Duff says, impressed by her sleigh. "There isn't enough filling in the cake," Nancy says, but the judges agree it's delicious. Bobby announces that Maeve is the Holiday Baking Champion. "I'm so honored," says Maeve, almost passing out at the news.

More Holiday Baking Championship

Get more from the competition by going behind the scenes of the baking battles, meet the competitors, learn more about the host and judges, and get inspired to bake this holiday season.

Holiday Baking Championship