Decatur girl on new Food Network cooking show 

Carrie Crespino of Decatur will prepare merry sweet treats and compete for a $10,000 cash prize on a new Food Network show, “Kids Sweets Showdown,” starting Wednesday. 

Carrie, who is 12 and a 7th grader at Renfroe Middle School, said she enjoyed competing on the show and made some new friends who share her affinity for baking. And as far as the baking in a competitive environment, she didn’t find it very different from cooking at home. 

“It was not that different. It was just with people with cameras being silent,” she said. 

"Kids Sweets Showdown" is a think-on-your-feet baking competition headed by Ali Sweeney and alternating co-hosts Sharone Hakman and Harley Morenstein. In each one-hour episode, which starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday, competing teams of two kids bake their way through a main showdown challenge and two frantic spur-of-the-moment "sugar rushes," where one member of each baking team must make something in an insanely short amount of time that will ultimately be judged as part of their team's overall showdown.It has three episodes.

Carrie, daughter of local folk singer Caroline Herring and Emory University history professor Joe Crespino, said she is a self-taught baker and first got interested in baking desserts a few years ago while channel surfing and stumbled upon the TV show, "Cupcake Wars." 

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“I was like, ‘I can do this and I got into it,” she said. “It was cupcakes for a year and then pastries and cakes, eclairs, macaroons. 

She said the key to a good dessert is using making it from scratch and using nothing artificial. She often sticks to recipes but will add slight twists such as adding cinnamon to vanilla cupcakes. She said she loves to bake especially during recent months. 

“It kind of takes me away from what’s happening around me,” she said. “This election was very troubling to me and when I am baking, I can focus on one batch of yumminess.” 

Carrie said in the first episode she must make a treat that looks like holiday-themed trains. She said her red velvet cake stuck to the pan but, quick on her feet, she salvaged the sweetness and turned it into cake pops and arranged them into a train-like shape. (She is not allowed to discuss the results of the show). 

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The show was taped back in September, well before the holidays. 

These days, Carrie is making holiday treats for family and friends. She recently made a pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust for Thanksgiving and she is making a “gargantuan” pan of peppermint bark to give to friends and neighbors.

The show has three episodes. Here's a look at each one: 

Wednesday, November 30th. 

“Santa Express” 

Hosts Alison Sweeney and Harley Morenstein ask the kids to bake and decorate Holiday Train Cakes. For the first round, the kids turn cookie stacks into decorative holiday trees. Then, they continue the reforestation with sugar cone trees. 


Wednesday, December 7th at 8pm 

“Snow Day Doughnuts” 

Hosts Sharone Hakman and Alison Sweeney make the baking teams go nuts with snow creatures made out of doughnuts! In the first challenge, the kids must create Cereal Treat Homes for their creatures; then in the second round, they have to create an "odd snowman out" to join their snow creature clans.


Wednesday, December 14th at 8pm - the finale

“Extreme Cake Adventures” 

Hosts Sharone Hakman and Alison Sweeney task the baking teams with creating a cupcake cake to illustrate an adventure theme: wild jungle, undersea adventures or space odyssey. First, the kids must turn cupcakes into Mini Layer Cakes. Then the teams must use their sculpting skills to make a Fondant Friend to add to their cupcake cake.

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