BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND Twitter Backgrounds »

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Survival of the Fittest

The winner of tonight's war would have their cupcakes at a gala in L.A.'s Museum of Natural History.

The taste challenge revolved around two of the largest mammals the museum has to offer - the elephant and the giraffe. As always there were tables of ingredients to choose from that fit this challenge. Among the ingredients for the elephant diet were pumpkin, bamboo, and peanuts. And for the giraffe's diet there was wheat grass, alfalfa, and orange blossoms.

Jeff Martin (Smallcakes) chose the elephant diet and chose to make a pumpkin cupcake with white chocolate cardamom butter cream. This sounded like a cupcake I would love to see at (my personal favourite holiday) Thanksgiving. Sadly, some of last weeks bad mojo must have carried over because poor Jeff was so focused on his cardamom butter cream (which was met with rave reviews) that he forgot the pumpkin in the cupcake!

Lisa Cowden (Lulu’s Cupcakes) also chose the elephant diet and came up with the mouth watering idea of a kumquat cupcake with hibiscus puree center topped with kumquat peel infused pastry cream that was lightly caramelized. Did I mention it was also beautifully decorated with a hibiscus flower and just a bit more pastry cream? I didn't? Well I should have. At first I was worried that it sounded like she was planning to top it with a bit too much. My worries and apparently my trust was misplaced. It was as eye catching as it was (or sounded) mouth watering.

MaryAnne Tongko (Cupcakes & Co) chose the road less traveled and picked the giraffe diet. At her mothers insistence she chose to make a lemongrass cupcake topped with an orange blossom whipped cream and gold sanding sugar. Mama was against the sanding sugar and it seems this time she may have been right because the judges didn't seem to feel bling conveyed that earthy natural feel they were looking for this rapidly approaching event.

Wendy Jones (Whodidily Cupcakes) stayed the elephant diet course and made a chocolate cupcake filled with a peanut butter cream cheese center, topped with a peanut butter butter-cream sprinkled with sunflower seeds dipped in ganache.

Next the remaining bakers were supposed to "capture the wonder of the museum" in the taste & presentation challenge.

In case anyone was worried an episode of Cupcake Wars would go by without a red velvet cupcake Wendy Jones insured hers got their day. Her choices to bake red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting as well as yellow cake cupcakes with chocolate butter-cream were uninspired and a bit boring. However, she brought a little interest back when she chose to give her vanilla cupcakes with vanilla butter-cream a pumpkin cream cheese center.

Lisa won me over in the first round which is a rarity. That's right, I am still completely obsessing over Hollis Wilders salmon based cupcakes.

The two cupcake choices from "team Lisa" that won me over were the blackberry margarita cupcake and the apricot cake (complete with apricot seeds for crunch) with Swiss butter-cream topped with a white chocolate poppy. Sorry Lisa, when you're offering those two it's hard for me to notice their mousy friend with the sweet caramel center they've brought along.

MaryAnne chose to make a cream cheese filled black bottom cupcake with chocolate ganache, a blue velvet chocolate cupcake filled with marzipan that was topped with almond whipped cream, and strawberry cupcakes.

That bad mojo was back again and this time for MaryAnne, with only 40 minutes left her blue velvet cupcakes had yet to see the inside of an oven. They didn't come out until there was only 2 minutes left in the challenge to be decorated and plated alongside the others. Her choice to use a layer of marzipan as a buffer for the still rising heat was creative but sadly not enough - all toppers melted down by the wayside. It was no surprise that MaryAnne was next to bite the dusting sugar.

Presentation, the final and deciding challenge is next and I am feeling completely confident with "team Lisa."

When fellow baker and competitor, Wendy, planned to recreate the actual museum it felt very reminiscent of Hollis Wilders choice in the first episode to replicate a golf course. But when I saw her huge, glittery, eye-catchingly whimsical "Museum of Cupcakes" I was once nervous for my top pick.

Lisa chose to have a giant, "gnarly", "prehistoric" tree which once it arrived on scene Wendy likened to "the tree of life." My mind instead connected the choice a bit to the movie Avatar and its "home tree."

Congratulations to tonight's extremely deserving winner, Lisa Cowden.