MasterChef Junior: Pancakes & Pie

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The three champions from last week– Oona, Sean, and Samuel– are called out to compete in a pancake stacking challenge.  Oona, champion of my heart, asks, “Pancakes?  I’m more of an eggs Benedict gal.”  She just gets me.

A line of pans but just one plate await each of these three, while buckets of syrup wait precariously over the heads of our judges.  Oona is stacking to save Gordon from a syrup shower.  Sean is stacking to keep Joe safe and not sticky.  Samuel is flipping for Graham’s well being.  The biggest stack wins!

Oona's facial expressions are everything.

Oona’s facial expressions are everything.

Oona knows she is not off to a greta start, claiming that she is not the “maestro of pancake flippery.”  Fair enough.  When she brings her short stack up next to Sean and Samuel’s tall and near even ones, she proclaims: “I’m screwed!”  And so is Gordon, doused in syrup.  Samuel’s stack for Graham is counted at double Oona’s, but Sean’s stack for Joe beats his too. Graham gets syrup-drenched next, and he eggs on Sean to get Joe too.  Gordon and the kids cheer to do it, and I do too at home.  It’s a great moment when these three are all sticky and chucked pancakes at each other.  Joe eats throughout.  Great sports!  There’s a magic quick change and everyone is less sticky.

As the winner, Sean is exempt from cooking and gets to pick the cream pie that the kids must make.  Joe brings up a chocolate cream pie that I want to eat immediately.  Graham brings up a cherry cream pie under the guise of fruit cream pie and my mouth waters at the thought of banana.  Gordon brings up the last, the citrus creme pie.  Sean selects this for his competitors, as the flavor balance will be hardest to achieve.  He also gets to pick a buddy to join him up in the balcony and skip cooking.  Strategically, Sean selects Mitchell, who is very confident in his citrus cream pie abilities.

The remaining 10 get baking with various levels of enthusiasm.  Natalie, a stand-out from last week, has no sweet tooth and isn’t a fan of making desserts.  Adaiah, who at 12 is one of the most mature and composed cooks in the kitchen, tells, “I come from a long line of Southern bakers,” and clearly has no qualms about the challenge.

Here’s what the kids make:

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  • Samuel’s grapefruit cream pie with rosewater and nutmeg, pistachio and mint dust is altogether too many flavors.  The spice is too strong and Graham calls it “very perfumed.”
  • Logan, future president of some young Republicans club, might be my new favorite.  He knows the crust of his “raspberry twisted lime” pie is ugly, but he sells his ugly crust with amazing flavor.
  • Sam’s crust on his blood orange cream pie is sloppy, but the flavor is good.
  • Oona’s blood orange cream pie with passion fruit whipped cream impressed.  Gordon asks her where the flavor idea came from to which she responds, mostly from my brain.
  • Josh’s crust on his key lime pie is not baked all the way through, but his pie comes out pretty and tastes, I guess, better than expected.
  • Natalie was trying to go for an orange cream pie, but she mistakenly grabbed grapefruits instead.  Her grapefruit cream pie with coconut cream frosting does not have a strong enough flavor.
  • Abby’s blood orange cream pie comes complete with apple butter whipped cream and jelly bean garnish.  Her creativity is backed by excellent flavor.
  • Jessica makes a “citrus Texas pecan pie” with key lime, lemon, and orange.  Her nut risk isn’t the problem as much as the many inconsistencies in her pie from the baking of the crust to the ratio of cream to filling.

And the big winners:

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  • Adaiah’s blood orange lemon pie with raspberries!  This actually sounds amazing.
  • Levi’s key lime pie with coconut whipped cream!  It brings the acidity missing from many of the sweet desserts.

But of course, the sad part comes when announcing the bottom ranked pies.  Sam, Josh, Jessica, and Natalie are called out for the bottom.  Sam and Josh end up being safe, and Jessica and Natalie go home.

Looking at Natalie’s little face, I teared up.  All of these kids are talented, but I feel like it’s a real shame that Natalie went out so early.  Dessert has defeated many a Top Chef contestant, so I hope she keeps her head held high.

Oona is still my favorite, but I’m so excited to see these kids cook more!  What did you think of the results this week?

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