Cooking Channel Staff Chocolate Challenge: Pics from the Feast

By: Cooking Channel

No matter your relationship status, Valentine’s Day always means one thing: gorging on chocolate. That's why we at CookingChannelTV.com hosted an in-house Chocolate Cook-Off with our colleagues at FoodNetwork.com and Food.com. The parameters: Simply bring in your best homemade chocolate treat.

Dessert was not obligatory, but no one went the molé route — although post-sugar crash, we wished someone had gone savory.

Rich chocolate treats filled the table and we sampled them all, casting our votes after we'd made the rounds (and stopped back for seconds of favorites).

Plenty of contenders won raves. Kirsten’s gorgeous Dark Chocolate Tart, adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef Cookbook, took a close second place. The intensely rich filling got even more chocolatey depth from King Arthur Flour’s black cocoa powder, which Kirsten subbed in for half the cocoa called for in the recipe.

Despite a kitchen renovation that limited her to no-cook options, Kate G. scored third place with No-Bake Fudge from Food.com. She spiced up a crowd-pleasing combo — chocolate and peanut butter — with additions of cayenne and red pepper flakes.

The chocolate madness would have been remiss without an appearance by the all-American Brownie, and Michelle delivered with a family recipe that originally came from a circa-1987 Hershey's cookbook. Cocoa-rich frosting took the brownies to a new level of chocolatey goodness.

Kate A. impressed with Nigella’s super-moist Chocolate Stout Cake. The cream cheese frosting provided a nice departure from all that cocoa. Same for the marshmallow filling sandwiched inside Maria’s tasty Whoopie Pies.

Cameron went classic with Tyler Florence’s Flourless Chocolate Cake. This simple-yet-sinful recipe requires just six ingredients, so if you’re still looking for a last-minute treat to whip up tonight, you’re welcome.

In the end, we crowned a first-place winner that was certainly not the most camera-ready but perhaps the most decadent: Brownie Pudding, an Ina Garten recipe served warm (reheated in an office microwave) with chocolate-chip ice cream. “It’s essentially molten brownies,” explains cook-off winner Sara. “As Ina would say, how bad can that be?” Make it for your sweetie (or your friends) tonight and dig in with multiple spoons.

For more last-minute Valentine’s Day recipe ideas, look no further.

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