Arts & Entertainment

12-Year-Old Livingston Resident Secures Spot in Top Nine on "Kids Baking Championship"

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Credits: Food Network
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NEW YORK, NY — Coming off a week where she was nearly sent home for presenting a runny ganache to the judges, Livingston’s own “Kids Baking Championship” contestant, Soleil Thomas, landed in the middle of the pack on Monday and earned a spot in the top nine on the Food Network competition.

This week, the 10 remaining bakers had two hours to marry lemon with a flavor they chose at random to create a lemon bar in a specific shape that the contestants also chose at random. Since lemon is host and mentor Valerie Bertinelli’s all-time favorite flavor, the pressure was on for week three.

“One of my favorite things about lemon is that it goes with so many other flavors,” said Bertinelli. “I like to call them BFFs: Best Flavor Friends.”

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A lemon bar, as explained by Abby Martin, one of Thomas’ best friends on the show, is a shortbread crust (a butter cookie made with butter, sugar and flour) with a lemon-curd filling.

Flavor-and-shape combinations for this challenge included ginger/triangle; blackberry/circle; strawberry/rectangle; almond/parallelogram (diamond); raspberry/rectangle; blueberry/circle; cherry/square; coconut/diamond; walnut/square; and pecan/triangle.

“Lemon bars look like they’re pretty easy to make, but actually they are not,” said Alex Czajka, Kids Baking Championship’s first Canadian contestant. “So many things can go wrong.”

Thomas received coconut and diamond as her flavor-shape combination and was excited because her mother is from the Caribbean and she is familiar with the flavor. However, she said she was a little worried because she knows coconut is not a very strong flavor.

In order to make the coconut shine, Thomas made her lemon curd with coconut cream and added shredded coconut to her shortbread crust. She also combined powdered sugar with some coconut cream and coconut milk to make a coconut drizzle for the top of her lemon bar.

To satisfy the mid-challenge twist of creating an edible lemon decoration, Thomas whipped up a quick butter cream, molded it into a lemon shape and froze it. She was excited to see that she was the only baker that had this idea.

Ultimately, however, the judges said the lemon flavor was spot on and that they could feel the coconut texture, but that they could not taste any coconut. They also felt that the butter cream was an odd choice.

Overall, they said her cookie was perfectly chewy and not under-baked, and that her lemon curd was delicious. Thomas landed once again in the middle of the pack.

Kids Baking Championship said goodbye to Grady Holloway, 11, Chesterfield, MO, for using too much butter in his lemon bar. 

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