Dessert Challenge from TV--What Would You Do?


SPOILER ALLERT--this pertains to this week's episode of Halloween Baking Championship

The challenge was to make a dessert using an unusual ingredient assigned at random. (The desserts were supposed to look like the devil and have a representation of flames, but that's immaterial to this discussion, unless you find it inspiring.)

The mystery ingredients were intriguing and I wasn't sure how I would have used them. I thought it would be a fun quiz for the group. (I'll add my own answer later.)

Each dessert had to have one of these:

  • Tamarind Paste
  • Canned Tomato Soup (condensed)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Beets (red)
  • Spinach (fresh)
  • Parmesan Cheese (IIRC, pre-grated)

As a twist, each dessert had to add:

  • Fresno chilis (have to be able to taste them).


The contestants made: Pie, deep dish, with a tamarind & passion fruit custard filling topped with peaches sautéed with tamarind and Fresno chili and a sculpted top crust, molded chocolate tomato soup mousse with Fresno chili (and seeds) sablé cookie, sauerkraut toasted with sugar to become mock coconut inside a giant, chocolate and sweet chili marmalade filled macaron, beet microwave sponge cake with a tangerine (? IIRC) and chili glaze over a mousse layer (IIRC) with candied beets on the plate with other items, tart with a fried and sugared nut and chili crust with spinach gelée in the bottom and layers of a fruit cream and goat cheese cream topped with berries on top, pie with parm crisp flames and parm scattered over chili infused chocolate ganache filling (unsuccessfully). I hope I've reported these correctly, and apologize in advance for any errors.

How would you use these ingredients?

Comments (7)
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Gee, plllog, I hope some of the more seasoned cooks on here come play. For me, I’d have thrown my hands in the air, tucked tail, and run.

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Me too! I hope people will play along. Sorry that's driven you to duck. :) You do bake! Surely you can think of something! It's not like you're committing to making it.

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Islay Corbel

Why? It sounds like a revolting mess!

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The judges liked the flavors the contestants came up with.

I don't make a lot of fancy desserts. Simple ones, yes, but not fancy. I still found the challenge intriguing.

We're home cooks, here, not pros, so I'm only asking about the flavors--no time limit, open book (don't need to only use memorized proportions, but no fair finding an existing recipe for the special ingredients). Also, The visual design is a separate kind of trouble, which requires non-cooking skills which we can skip. ;)

For me, the odd one out was the sauerkraut. I don't like it, which makes it harder, and it's the only one that isn't naturally sweet. My only thought was to rinse and brown sugar it, then taste. Probably, blend it up into a cake batter and choose some fruit to go with it, like I do for popsicles. Thinking some more, I'd bet pineapple would go well and the acid might pair well with the brininess, offset by the sugar, with a pineapple chili sticky glaze. The beets and chilis are obvious for red velvet cupcakes. (I'm good at improvisational cakes so I guess that's my first thought for anything.)

Perhaps the long popular chocolate tomato soup cake is too obvious. On the show, what they had sounded like what I remember--acidic and metallic tasting. I don't have enough knowledge to turn it into a pleasant wobbly along the lines of a panna cotta, so I'm thinking more like a a granita, or maybe even an ice cream. The chilis can only improve it and help with the metallic taste.

Tamarinds--one of my all time favorite flavors-- are jammy sweet. The paste they were using was very dark. Usually, tamarind paste is just the goo boiled off the fibers then reduce back to its original texture. I think I'd like to make a bonbon with a pistachio in a dried cherry in a shell of white chocolate, covered by tamarind, enrobed in a chili infused chocolate. Dang. I want to taste that!

But spinach? It's sweet, for greens, but it tastes green. I haven't done it, so I don't know if it would work, but I'm thinking I'd like to soak them in simple syrup then dry them at low temperature, hoping for something crisp and sweet. Maybe infuse the syrup with the chili. Stand them in bases of gingersnaps. It depends on how the leaves came out. Crumpling them into the gingersnaps might work well. The main thing is that they have to be dry enough so that when they get wet they won't be chewy. Another approach might be to make a dessert take on stuffed grape leaves, with dried fruit and nuts, and chilis chopped for the filling, maybe with some spinach stems--perhaps go full on charoset with sweet wine--and wrapped in the larger leaves. Maybe with a fruit reduction dipping sauce.

Parmesan. The obvious, given the salt level, is caramel, but I didn't think of it until they said it on the show. This is the only flavor that wasn't successful. I'm toast it, perhaps as tuilles, to get the nuttiness and sweetness to come out. They;d go well with chili jam. Maybe crushed and rolled into a nut ball. Or perhaps better a parm and chocolate cookie crusted cheesecake with a chili glaze. That might be a good way to manage the funk.

It might be fun to try making all these things and see if they come out well, but I'm not going to. Given the continuing heat, I'm not baking at all, and cooking minimally. This can't continue. I must start cooking some proper meals...

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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I typically don't watch the baking shows but love Chopped. After they open the basket, I pause with the list of ingredients and come up with what I would make. Sometimes I'm right on, often no clue!

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I make sauerkraut chocolate cake all the time. The trick is to thoroughly rinse the sauerkraut. It adds moistness like carrots in carrot cake. I don't like hot spicy peppers in my desserts like Fresno chilis. I separate savory from sweet.

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Thanks, CAFlowerluver! I didn't know sauerkraut in cake was a thing. That explains it. I wonder if spinach is too. Chilis in chocolate is a classic, I wonder if the baseline for all was chocolate cake! I'll have to see if parmesan chocolate cake is a thing. ;)

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