DAVENPORT — Tiphanie Cannon did not take home the grand prize from the Food Network's “Christmas Cookie Challenge,” but her experience still was pretty sweet.
The Bettendorf baker, who owns Oh So Sweet by Tiphanie in downtown Davenport, competed with four other contestants earlier this year on the show for the chance to win $10,000. The episode recently dropped on DirecTV and the Food Network's app, but it aired at 9 p.m. Monday night on cable.
“I didn't win, but I had such a nice time and made a ton of friends, and I did make it to the top three,” Cannon said.
And if anyone ever needs 500 cookies made in two hours, she said, “I'm your girl.”
Cannon said the first challenge was a slice-and-bake cookie. Participants had to create a Christmassy design inside a tube of dough, much like those you will find in the dairy section of area supermarkets. Then, they sliced and baked the cookies. Cannon said she made a red and green state of Iowa inside her tube of cookies, with a little heart where the Quad-Cities area is.
“And then I wrote 'home' on it,” she said. “That got me to the second round.”
For round two, participants were asked to make a centerpiece with cookies, featuring a savory ingredient that usually would not belong in any cookie recipe, Cannon said, adding that she chose sage. For this, she modified a graham cracker recipe, she said, and swapped its called for cinnamon with sage and added lemon zest.
All told, those cookies were made from brown sugar, honey, lemon zest and sage, she said. “And they loved it.”
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For the actual centerpiece portion of the task, “My family is German, so I made a German Advent wreath out of a (sugar) cookie,” Cannon said. She then decorated it with snowflake cookies and such made from the sage recipe.
Cannon said that not only were the challenges themselves “not for the faint of heart,” she had to face working in an unfamiliar kitchen against a ticking click, TV cameras six inches from her face, and the Food Network's Ree Drummond right in front of her.
"All of that was kind of stressful,” she said.
But it was worth it.
As a self-taught baker, Cannon said the entire experience was very affirming for her. It helped her see that “I am an OK baker; I am pretty good. I can hold my own out there,” she said.
She left the show with a newfound sense of confidence, she said. “To be chosen for one of these shows, the vet you,” she said, adding that not only do you have to have baking skills, you have to have people skills, too.
She might not have won the grand prize, but she said she thinks she did a pretty good job.
“It was such a privilege, and I am forever grateful,” she said. “The outpouring of support and cheering me on from the community has just been amazing and priceless, and I've never felt so much love and support in my life.”