Sprinkles diva dishes on Cupcake Wars

Jun 25, 2010 at 5:05 p.m. ET

Candace Nelson, Sprinkles founder, knows her cupcakes. This season, she’s lending her Jedi baking skills as a judge of the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” baking competition. Candace shares the inside scoop with SheKnows about what she’ll be looking for in the ultimate cupcake showdown and what makes a cupcake good enough to win a war.

Cupcake wars

Cupcake Wars pits the nation's top cupcake bakers against each other as they bake for the sweet prize of $10,000 and the opportunity to showcase their cupcakes at a celeb-studded event.

Seaweed cupcakes?

The first round of competition asks the contestants to create a cupcake using 2 non-traditional ingredients – think salmon, seaweed, and bacon.

What I'm looking for here is whether or not the baker can escape their comfort zone of sugar and spice and really focus on bringing out the qualities of the eccentric ingredients they are given. Since there are so few ingredients that go into in a cupcake, the bakers will need to get creative while keeping it simple!

Devilish details

The second round spotlights taste and presentation. Here, the devil is in the details. Even though the contestants are under a time crunch, I'm checking to see if their bake times create a consistently moist, fresh-tasting cupcake. Do they fully blend their ingredients to create a smooth, creamy frosting? Do they cleverly incorporate the theme of the event for which they are competing? With cupcakes being such a small "canvas" there is a fine line between kitschy and brilliant!

Taste & presentation

The final round leaves one baker standing as the competition takes on new heights, literally. The bakers are tasked with baking 1000 cupcakes and creating a display for the big event. To arrange such a large number of cupcakes, our bakers must have a clear vision before they begin!

Whether they arrange their cupcakes on towering tiers or a bed of Astroturf, I'm looking for our contestants to showcase their cupcakes in a way that speaks to the event's guests.

Watch Candace Nelson judge Cupcake Wars on the Food Network Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

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