Holiday Battle Sugar
Editor's Note: What follows is a
televised-move-by-televised-move recap. Because a
sixty-minute battle, intro, and judgment has to be
edited into 45 minutes of airtime, not every move will
Kitchen Stadium's walls are
decked with holly, and 'tis the season for the Chairman to be jolly, as
he commissions a special Holiday themed battle.
The Challengers: Food Network's own Tyler Florence ("Tyler's Ultimate")
and Robert Irvine ("Dinner Impossible"). They think it's going to be
fun. Well, Tyler thinks it's going to be fun. Robert is a little
nervous. Tonight, these two are challenged by another Food Network
all-star, a dynamo from Down South, Paula Deen ("Paula's Home Cooking").
But she will not be battling by herself, as she enlists the aid of a
fellow Southern Girl, Iron Chef Cat Cora. These Iron Magnolias don't
like to lose.
Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Lorilynn Bauer, sous-chef
Anthony Hoy Fong, sous-chef
First battle as a team
Ingredient: Confectioner's sugar, table sugar, light
and dark brown sugar, turbinado sugar, sanding sugar. The Theme Ingredient:
Thanksgiving... Potatoes, turkeys, cranberries,
various gourds, and a whole slew of fall harvest items.
The Rules: Each chef
must create a five-course meal, with each course
utilizing the theme ingredient, within 60 minutes. The
judges will score the dishes on a 20-point scale: 10
points taste, 5 points plating and presentation, 5
points creativity and use of ingredient. The chef that
best articulates the theme ingredient through his dishes
clock is set at 60 minutes, which will start when the
Chairman, with full heart and empty stomach, utters the words of
his dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"
And Battle Sugar is on! And
Paula's already starting with the junk.
About the ingredient: sugar has been made in crystalline form
since about 500 BC, originally concocted by Indian subcontinentals who
figured out how to crystallize solid sugar out of sugar cane.
Opening gambits include a lemon chiffon for a buche de Noel on the guys'
side, while the girls are working chocolate. In between, Paula and
Robert are busy talking the smack. And while Kevin is down giving us the
five-minute report, Robert decides, you know what? I cook better without
the chef's jacket. By the way, they're working on a pate-a-choux.
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." The ladies are working on a cookie
batter and a cupcake concoction. Paula's making fudge with processed
cheese. The guys are working on a lemon chiffon cake, fruit pudding, and
Cooking author Katie Lee Joel ("Extra")
Food and wine expert Ted Allen ("Top Chef")
Actress and comedienne Tina Fey ("30 Rock")
Lorilynn is making marshmallows, while Iron Cora is making a pastry
cream. Florence is making a spiced ginger cake, while Irvine is making
something with figs and eggs. The girls are working on a vanilla
anglaise in the dreaded ice cream maker. They're working on that AND
egg-nog. The pate-a-choux is out on the guy's side. Spice cake batter is
heading to the oven. Lorilynn's star cookies are out of the oven and her
marshmallow concoction is setting in the blast chiller as did a
pastry-cream. The guys are cooking espresso and a custard.
Cora added ground peppermint starlights into a white chocolate mousse.
Partner in crime Paula is spiking some cookies with some liquor, while
Irvine is cooking her custard.
Alton has scientific proof that crystals rendered from sugarcane are the
official holiday staple. Sugar is made up of two monosaccharides, the
hexamer glucose and the pentamer fructose, joined by one oxygen bond to
make sucrose. The hydrogen-oxygen bonds come together to spell ho-ho-ho,
ho-ho-ho, ho-ho-ho... you get it by now, right?
Anthony has some definite not-ice-cream on his side. Cora breaks out the
challah, or Jewish egg bread, while Paula has some truffles. "Fifteen
minutes to go." Plating has begun with a chocolate budino on the IC
side, and a toasted-almond buttercream on their buche du Noel. Paula has
speared cheese fudge balls, and Cora has spread her pastry cream over a
piece of challah. Paula has rolled magnolia lace cookies into trumpet
The guys have filled profiteroles with chocolate mousse, and their
spiced ginger cake is done. Paula has dipped her balls into a caramel
sauce while Cora is making a tarte tropezienne. Tyler is rolling his
buche du Noel... asking for some divine advice... Sorry, buddy. That
doesn't look like a Yule Log to me.
The ladies are done with three, the Tarte Tropezienne, the Red Hot
marshmallows, and the Chocolate Budinos... which is three more dishes
than the guys have right now. "Five minutes to go." Cora is getting her
liquor on while Lorilynn is making drunken milk and cookies. The guys
have their first dish, their profiterole croquembouche. The eggnog ice
cream... didn't set. So we have to improvise. Lorilynn's eggnog ice
cream. Done. Spiced ginger cake for the guys. Done. The clafouti...
done. Paula's fudge balls... dipped again. Buche du Noel, or whatever it
is... is done. That's four for the guys.
"One minute to go." Eggnog anglaise on figgy pudding is dish #5. Cora's
finishing off with a candy cane cocktail. The ladies will lead out with
seven: magnolia lace trumpets, candy cane cocktail, chocolate budino,
eggnog ice cream, Red Hot marshmallows, chocolate cheese fudge balls,
Tarte Tropezienne, and chocolate toffee cherry cookies with spiked milk.
The guys... working up to the very last...
"Five seconds... three... two... one..." Put it down, walk away, Holiday
Battle Sugar is history.
Judgment (Deen/Cora): Strategy? "To get through it. To win."
- Candy Cane Cocktail with Magnolia Lace Trumpets
- Chocolate Budino
- Eggnog Ice Cream
- Cinnamon Marshmallows
- Chocolate Cheese Fudge
- Tarte Tropezienne
- Spiked Milk and Cookies
Judgment (Irvine/Florence): "I thought it was very important to
stick with the theme of the battle."
- Croquembouche with Chocolate
- Pomegranate Spice Cake
- Cranberry Clafouti
- Figgy Pudding
- Buche de Noel (Ted: "It's not so much a log as it is a plank.")
We have festive cocktails versus masculine desserts. Lots of reminiscing
on both sides, and in the end, isn't that what the holidays are all
about? But still, this is Kitchen Stadium, and even on the Holy Night,
there has to be a winner. Whose cuisine reigns supreme?
... 49-47 in
favor of Iron Chef Cat Cora and Paula Deen. Both brought
out the flavor of the holidays, but the ladies one-upped
the gents in the conveyance of the festive time,
notching another win for the Iron Chef. Proof positive
that when it comes to the holidays... NO ONE can outcook
And as the combatants revel in the theme ingredient and
the good times of the day, we leave you until the next
time that battle is on. Until then, we bid you a very
happy season's eatings.