The actual cooking part of the competition was fun. When the clock began, the competition became real. We were decked out in our Nik Snacks shirts, we'd organized our work station, high-fived and were ready to win!
I set my cell phone's timer to keep us on track.
Our plan: I was to the make the brownie batter while Jil made the cream cheese mixture and then go wash dishes while I panned up the brownies.
What happened: I forgot the expensive bottle of Nielsen-Massey vanilla in our hotel room. Jil forgot the sugar in the cream cheese mixture. And I almost got disqualified.
I had a couple of bottles of Jim Beam Honey in my pocket (for a little liquid courage) and I added a shot of it to the brownie batter.
I was happy with the plating, but I had a dream later that night where I cut each brownie square into triangles and placed them to give the dish height. Oh well.
After turning in the completed tray of dishes (or what I THOUGHT was complete), I realized I left off one of the judge's plates. I never knew the meaning of the word 'crestfallen' until this moment. My hopes of winning really did go down the dish drain at that time.
Every time I look at this pic, I die a little on the inside.
|Blissfully ignorant. Clearly, there are only 5 plates on the tray.|
Now THIS cookie made all of the bad things during the first 50 minutes disappear. This cookie was money. Money in the bank.
I present to you my Dark Chocolate Orange Cardamom Sandwich Cookie with Whipped Earl Grey Ganache.
Less than one minute to go, I only had five plates, no plate decor and one more cookie to fill with ganache AND take the tray over to the judging table without spilling.
With FIVE seconds left, I put down the tray with all SIX plates. And then I was able to walk away. Actually, I ran away screaming because of the intense pressure and the feeling of elation at that moment. I'm not a runner. I hope they didn't catch that on TV.
Almost two hours later, they began to announce the top 10 for each of the categories that competed that day. Bacon, Sandwich and then Dessert. The waiting was the worst part. It was only 9 pm, but I'm an East Coast girl. It was midnight back home. I was tired.
When the results were announced, I feigned excitement for everyone that I'd met that day. There was nothing more to do except go back to the hotel room and a) drink b) get dressed up and have dinner in the hotel OR go out c) gamble.
We did all three.