Episode #3 “Burly Like a Bulldog”
During episode 3, I was really nervous because I knew it was going to be Thanksgiving themed and I am not a skilled pie baker. Oftentimes, people who are first introduced to my bakery assume I make pies. I do not blame them; my business name is Meringue Bakery, which makes most people think of lemon meringue pie. However, I picked the name because we use the meringue technique in our bakery every day, especially in our buttercream which has a meringue base. I would not call myself a confident pie baker.
For the first challenge, my job was to take canned mandarin oranges and turn it into a delicious dessert. In the end, I produced a mandarin orange and honey caramel nut tart for the preheat challenge. I made my first big mistake when I started cooking my tart filling without eggs! I was able to rebound quickly by pulling the tarts from the oven, scooping out the filling, and mixing in the eggs. I covered the tart in a homemade honey caramel and the judges loved it. Duff said my tart was “burly like a bulldog.” Lorraine, however, was not impressed with my frangipane, the almond nut filling. I have to say, in reflection, that she was right. It would have been better for me to keep the nuts out of it and stick with just the flavors of honey, caramel, and oranges. I had too many flavors in the tart and it would have been better to keep it simple.
I swear, the producers must have been drunk when they thought up the next challenge! We were responsible for making a holiday “mash up” by combining two desserts that do not normally go together. I received lemon bars and pecan pie. I instantly went to a dessert I felt comfortable making: an amazing lemon curd filling we make at Meringue Bakery. When I worked at The Waterfront Restaurant in La Crosse, Wisconsin, I used to make a chocolate hazelnut dessert that had a hazelnut nut cake called a daquoise. For this challenge, I planned on making a pecan daquoise filled with a lemon curd. Halfway through the challenge the host (and former Bachelor) Jesse Palmer came out to let us know that we needed to incorporate sweet potatoes. Think about it: I have to make a dessert that tastes good and has lemons, pecan pie, and sweet potatoes! I did not have the worst combination though. Andra had to figure out how to combine chocolate mousse, blueberry pie, and sweet potatoes! Things can always be worse! I baked off a sweet potato pecan pie filling and I spread it along with the lemon curd filling between the daquoise cake layers. I molded my cake to look like an acorn and I toasted marshmallow frosting on the outside of it to give it a rustic look.
As I stood in front of the judges, I knew I was really proud of my cake, but I also knew that the flavors were not strong enough to give me a win. Nancy, Duff and Lorraine all agreed that the sweet potato flavor was weak. However, they also collectively agreed that the sweet potato flavor would have ruined the flavor of the lemon / pecan dessert.
Aristo was sent home this week. It is hard to get to know each contestant by just watching the show on TV. In real life Aristo is a really great man. He is the guy who makes sure everyone in the room is happy. He loves telling horrible jokes. He is really proud of his family, and he loves his two dogs. His family has a cabin in Wisconsin and he travels up here occasionally. He knows I’m going to invite my family over to his cabin the next time he is able to make it up to the northwoods!