'Cupcake Wars': Justin Willman offers 'Comedy Cupcakes' cheer for the holidays
As a break from all the tension, Food Network's competitive reality series "Cupcake Wars" is offering up a sweet and funny treat on Saturday, Dec. 7, with an episode called "Comedy Cupcakes."
Four bakers compete to create the perfect confection for the celebrity-studded VIP party for Variety magazine's Power of Comedy event. The regular judges -- Sprinkles Cupcakes owner Candace Nelson and pastry chef Florian Bellanger -- are back, with celebrity publicist Jennifer Styles as guest judge.
As always, comedian/magician Justin Willman is host, and he reports that the bakers will be facing some challenges as the show tries to toss some jokes into the mix of ingredients.
"In Round One," Willman tells Zap2it, "just to give you a sense, we gave them foods that are inherently funny, like parsnips, seltzer water and kumquats. You can't say kumquat or parsnips without smiling."
He also gets a little bonus in each episode.
"Candace is at my end of the judges table," Willman says. "I'll take a huge bite out of whatever she has left on the table. I get a little taste of everything throughout the day. I don't have the refined palate the judges have, so I don't have the ability to speak in such a deep vocabulary about the cupcakes.
"I'm normally, 'I love it,' 'I don't love it.' So, in this episode, I was a fan. There are no crazy ingredients that aren't tasty, so it was all good."
As to his personal favorite sort of cupcake, Willman says, "I'm simple. I like chocolate and peanut butter. When I go into cupcake shops, that's normally what I do. Sprinkles makes a good chocolate/peanut butter that I love."
Interestingly, when asked what her best-selling cupcake to men is, Nelson says, "Peanut butter, and they like it better with peanut-butter frosting than chocolate."
"That means I'm a manly man," says Willman.
As for the worst ever, Willman says, "I can't remember which episode, but the baker chose to use the ingredients tuna and mayonnaise, so he made a smoked-tuna/mayonnaise cupcake, sort of like a tuna sandwich. And it was not good.
"He went out in the first round, but he does now have the dubious honor of, whenever somebody asks me what the worst cupcake was, his is always the one I describe."
Recipes featured in "Comedy Cupcakes" are: coconut rum and lime cupcakes; banana, chocolate, peanut butter cupcakes; cannoli cupcakes with ricotta and cream-cheese frosting; and parsnip and quince cupcakes. Bakers hail from the Velvet Bake Shop in Plano, Texas; Bliss Cupcake Cafe in Fayetteville, Ark.; Fat Bottomed Girl's Cupcake Shoppe in Hot Springs, Ark.; and CnC Cupcakes in San Jose, Calif.