Zach Young reveals the spooky secret of the Halloween Baking Tournament

It’s officially spooky season, which means it’s spooky food time. There are plenty of ways to get creative this season, from classic apple pie to meat-wrapped desserts that look like guts. If you love Halloween and want to take a break from the cult series Halloween Town, Halloween Baking Tournament might be your new favorite show. The collection features top bakers struggling to create gruesome yet mouth-watering desserts. The show is now in its eighth season and Judge Zach Young will be here to tell everyone.

In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Young talked about his favorite show costumes to date, his insufferable baking strategy, and his best Halloween party tricks. The Pastry Chef goes into detail about his chocolate cauldron pudding recipe and how to alter store-bought brownies to make them spooky. The Food Channel star arrived just in time, the holidays were just around the corner, and he even laid out his trick (or treat) for Thanksgiving dessert. This pumpkin pie is already calling us.
The fans are halfway to the “Halloween Baking Championship”. How is your relationship with judges Carla Hall and Stephanie Boswell?
We call it the “Halloween Baking Championship” summer camp. Kara, John and I are our favorite time of the year to be together. Carla and I have been friends for 10 years, Stephanie and John Henson have joined us. The four of us are a quartet. Not only did we sit there [and] spent the whole day together, [but] Carla, Steph and I did our hair and makeup together, not in our rooms. Doing it together is more fun. Then, as if shooting for the day wasn’t enough, we finished our lunch. Depending on the day, this can be a very light dinner. It really is the best few weeks of the year.
In many ways, it is similar to community theater. Let’s do a show. This is the heart of the judges, costumes and makeup. If we had a huge budget and several months, I don’t think it would be so much fun. One of the reasons is the evolution of clothing, hair and makeup, all of which happened on the fly.
I love Bob Ross. It was a collaborative approach to clothing ideas, and the producers actually came up with Bob Ross. As a child, of course, I looked at Bob Ross. I watched Julia Child. It’s all PBS because that’s the station that’s coming. It was a lot of fun and then my makeup artist Lucy took it to the next level. I looked in the mirror when she finished. I was wearing a blue shirt and I thought, “Oh my gosh.” I introduced myself and Bob Ross side by side on the phone and it was really exciting.
We, yes. While the baker is baking, we are cooking. But in fact, time flies very quickly. At other baking shows, you really have nothing to do when the baker is baking. I usually sit in the locker room and eat chips. At the Halloween Baking Championship, we got straight to the hair and makeup from the first round. By the second round, we had three to four hours to prepare, and then we moved on. The days may be long, but they pass quickly.
I feel like season after season… this is my sixth season. Once you think you’ve seen it all, how many bats can I see? Bakers come up with new ideas, new items, new decoration styles. Every season I see something I’ve never seen before. The same goes for the bakers this season, they are very strong. They each have their own personality and individuality, and I love, I love how they approach tasks from their point of view.
Do you tend to enjoy bloodier things when it comes to cake? Or do you prefer classic Halloween with pumpkins, ghosts, witches, etc.?
It comes down to perspective and creativity. I like to see things that I haven’t seen before. I think Gore, if done well, is great, but Gore can also be messy. It’s a simple cover: “Let’s cover it in blood. Let’s cover our mistakes in blood.” , three hours. This is very impressive.
I’m very glad that Stephanie was there because I feel like Simon Cowell for many seasons. Now I feel like I can be Paula Abdul and who I am. As a referee, I know what it’s like to sit on the other side of the table. I participated. I got into competition long before I started judging. Not only am I a working confectioner, [but] I’ve been there too. I was under this stress, nerves, etc. in an unfamiliar kitchen. I can empathize with their experience and tell them how to navigate this very different competitive competition. Usually we, confectioners, are accustomed to our own cuisine. We know our ovens. We have all the tools and all the ingredients we need, we have all the time we need.

Covered in chocolate. I think everyone knows how I feel about being covered in chocolate, which is good at home. It’s fun to play. It’s a great way to create characters, make cake pops, and more. But in a baking kitchen, [for] these pastry chefs, tempering chocolate is as fast as melting coated chocolate.
It’s one of those picky things I talk about every season. But it’s also like you can microwave regular chocolate. It won’t be as perfect as if you tempered it properly, but for our purposes it tastes better and fits better with what you’re trying to come up with as a pastry chef.
Are there any behind-the-scenes incidents that may not be on the show that you could share?
[For] my pruning outfit, hedge trimming outfit, I was in a giant flower pot and the leaves wrapped around me and covered my face. I didn’t think about it, nobody thought about it, [but] I had to go out and sit down. No one thought about it until I got out and looked at my chair and realized, “I can’t sit down.” I could lean on a stool throughout the review, which could take two and a half hours.
Don’t forget delicious. When you think of Halloween, you think of candy. I love pharmacy favorites. That’s all our childhood. I have absolutely no problem saving it for dessert and doing fun things with delicious food. So, pizza rolls. A delicacy board can do a lot. You do have meat. I personally think it’s fun to play with a yummy Halloween party.
Then throw away the candy. Give people what they are looking for. They want Twix. They want Reese. You can buy it… at craft stores, there are skeletons everywhere, so why not wrap it in meat?
I see you’ve created a recipe for chocolate pudding in a cauldron. Can you tell me how to do it?
[It's] a fun balloon technique. You’ll see this in baking competitions where you dip balls in chocolate. This forms the well of the boiler. I actually use Tootsie Rolls. If you knead Tootsie Rolls, you will get styling chocolate. It becomes almost clay-like so you can shape things like the rim of a cauldron, little handles. This is actually a very easy way to play around with sugar dough. Then fill it with your favorite pudding. There’s nothing wrong with store-bought products, whether they’re boxed cake mixes or boxed pudding mixes, because you can also add flavor to them. A little salt, a little orange peel, a little spice will do the trick. [This] will save you a lot of time. So fill your little chocolate cups with whatever pudding you like. If you want to do it, fine. If not, buy store-bought pudding.
There are so many wonderful decorative candies, whether they are small sugar balls, colorful sugar balls, or malt chocolate balls. If you go to a party store or craft supply store that has bake aisles now, you can get any color and glitter. It’s amazing because these things have to either be ordered online or go to a dedicated patisserie, which is ubiquitous these days. There are even supermarkets.
Yes. You can also buy mini plastic pots and fill them with pudding. It doesn’t have to be eaten completely.
I know that you also have an idea to turn store-bought cakes into spider web cakes. How would you recommend doing this?
If you are going to decorate a cake, why not buy a nice piece of chocolate cake from a bakery or supermarket? I think chocolate cake is usually better than vanilla. Chocolate mask. I love store bought cakes.

You can take it. You can take off any finish you don’t like [and] get to the bottom of it. You can then gently melt the marshmallow either in a double boiler or in the microwave with a little effort so it doesn’t explode and you are effectively melting the gooey marshmallow. You can tear it apart with your hands and wrap it around the cake. I chill the cake first. Chill it in the refrigerator so that when you put the marshmallow on it, it won’t stick together.
Mini American brownies…my family is obsessed with them. We only get them occasionally.
I feel the same way about sweet corn as I do about Peeps. You should have some of these at the start of the Halloween season and then I’ll have a good year. Actually, I don’t feel that way about Peeps. I eat pips all year round. But I think candy corn is a necessary evil. You have to have a handful and it’s like, “Yes, I did. I’m fine”.
I switch to Thanksgiving. I see you’re the “piecaken” mastermind. Can you tell me what inspired this idea?
It actually started as a joke [or] a competition with an amazing chef to roll up all our favorite Thanksgiving pies into one because we wanted to make a turkey for dessert. Then the internet did [their thing]. Everyone says, “I want it,” and it becomes a thing. So it’s unexpected.
Also, Thanksgiving and Halloween are two of my favorite holidays. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, walnut pie, all those grandma recipes, family, home, hot spices, I feel so loved by everyone. Put them all in one place. Another problem I had at Thanksgiving was that when I got to the dessert table, there wasn’t a plate big enough. I want them all. [With] piecaken you can literally chop up an entire table.
Do you have any tips on how to take Thanksgiving pie to the next level? Maybe apple pie, because it’s a classic.
Think crust. Don’t throw away the peel. There are many flavors that can be added to the crust. This is a blank canvas. When you think of an apple pie, [imagine] something as simple as a little lemon or orange zest that brings out the brightness of the apple, [or] a seasoning like thyme or rosemary, or even shredded spicy cheddar cheese. inside. This is one of my favorites. Think of the crust as a flavor element, not just a container.
Speaking of some spices, pumpkin spice is very hot this season. Are there any underrated fall baking spices that you think deserve more attention?
Black pepper. I think the black pepper adds a bit of spiciness, more spiciness and those warm spice nuances. It’s like the sharp cousin of falling spice. It is very important to keep the spice mixture very finely ground. You don’t want to end up with a piece of coarse black pepper. It brings to perfection the warmth of classic baking spices.
The pumpkin pie has some [instead of] cloves in it. I think cloves can get a little aggressive around Thanksgiving, so I usually add some black pepper to my pumpkin pie – it’s not enough, you’ll cough or say, “That’s so hot.” Gradually grind very finely. It’s nothing.
Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Tournament” airs Monday at 9:00 pm ET. Check out Zach Young’s Instagram page for his latest projects.

Post time: Oct-12-2022