If you saw last week’s episode, you know that for me, they call it a main heat for a reason. The heat was certainly on when I landed in the bottom two. But if you remember my mantra, from the first episode, I only had to outperform one person. That became my saving grace last week.
The dessert that landed me on the chopping block last week was a Brie Cheesecake Paris Brest. A Paris Brest is a French dessert that has choux pastry (the type of dough a cream puff is made from) and praline cream in a round shape made to resemble a bicycle tire. It is named after a bicycle race called the Paris Brest, an event that still happens today.
When I was planning this dessert for the competition I was really inspired by the idea of cheese platter. I think of a cheese platter as an appetizer best shared with friends. I had an idea to make a cheesecake into an appetizer. I wanted to make it larger than a single serving because I thought it would be cool to have a dessert multiple people would eat from.
Baking perfect choux dough is not for the faint of heart, and mine last week was text book dough. It baked off beautifully. I then made a cheesecake two different ways: a baked brie cheesecake filling and a brie cheesecake mousse. I also made a pinenut praline and elderflower fig compote.
The feedback I received was all over the place: “I like the texture of the brie cheesecake but the flavor is mild.” “The pinenuts are overshadowing the brie.” “It looks beautiful, but it is too big.” “I am not sure if you met the challenge.”
For this particular dish I wish I would have done so many things differently. Perhaps I should have done away with the choux dough. It might have read better as a dessert appetizer if it actually looked like a typical dessert cheese platter and not as a Paris Brest. I should have separated the pinenuts from the brie cheesecake (not inside the Paris Brest) so it would not compete with the brie flavor. At the very minimum, I should have eliminated at least one component—I simply had just too many different pieces going on.
At this point in the competition small missteps make a difference. Lorraine was particularly critical of the dessert, but I still don’t think my dessert’s large size should have been such a turn off. There was nothing in rules that said an individually plated dessert had to be a certain portion size. Lesson learned – apparently my idea of shared appetizer did not translate at all. I will be humble enough to say that I did not love my dessert enough to want it on a restaurant menu. I will also like to say I thought Stephany and Josh deserved to get high praise from the judges.
After I survived the chopping block on Episode #5 I had a heightened sense of how important it is for me to up my dessert game. My odds of winning $50,000 at that point were at 25 percent, as were my odds of going home. That’s when I realized I really, really wanted to make it to the finale.
You may recall my goals when I began the competition:
#1 Do not be the first one to be voted off. CHECK.
#2 Make it more than half way of the competition. CHECK.
#3 Make it to the finale.
#4 Win $50,000 and the title of Holiday Baking Champion.
I’m just one step away now from Goal #3.