A Dessert Challenge and What Could Be Better?

An email popped into my inbox with a request for me to be a judge for a Capital One team building exercise. At first thought, I figured my calendar was way too full to help. But then I read further and discovered that the judges would be judging a DESSERT contest! Now, that changes things a lot!

A group of 17 Capital One employees converged on the Green Monkey kitchen to compete in their first-ever dessert challenge. And what a challenge it was! These were fierce competitors who took their jobs seriously.  A few jokes about the gluten-free recipe station were tossed about — but that was before Anna B (yep, THE Anna B of Anna B’s Gluten-Free!) stepped into the room. After a brief education by Anna on the value, taste, and importance of gluten-free food, everyone was on board.

The group divided into three separate teams and assigned a team leader. There were 3 different desserts to be prepared:

  1. Chocolate Lava Cake with Raspberry Topping
  2. Chocolate Chip Cookies
  3. Gluten-free Banana Cupcakes

Once instructions were provided by Lisa Granger, Green Monkey Chef, the teams were off and running.

It didn’t take long before flour was dusting the air and the floor, eggs were cracking, butter was melting, and recipes were on their way. But the real treat came as the teams became quite creative. Chocolate chip cookies soon turned into something chewy and delicious with dried cranberries, cherries, pecans, walnuts, cinnamon, and a few other ingredients.  Banana cupcakes were being transformed into Banana Nut and Banana Chocolate Chip cupcakes with a special addition of a light, fluffy cinnamon icing along with the traditional vanilla icing. And the Chocolate Lava Cake, which apparently was a volcano sleeping, was infused with a chocolate filling to create a moist, delicious center.

After all of the desserts were created, it was time to assemble and plate them. That’s when the fun really began. These Capital One employees were definitely creative as they displayed culinary skills we did not expect.  While the Chocolate Lava Cake did not have flowing lava, it certainly had pizzazz with the tangy, delicious raspberry topping. But the Chocolate Chip Cookie team was not to be outdone as they carefully created a snowman, complete with chocolate chip eyes and mouth, and a reindeer with chocolate covered pretzels for antlers. It was all complemented with a chocolate drizzle around the plate. But the Banana Cupcake team was not afraid! Their plating was spectacular as they created wedges of bananas and carefully placed them on the corners of the plates, accented with chocolate chips and a artful side-dip of cinnamon icing.

Okay, enough of the details. When all was said and done, all three teams did an incredible job of working together, creating something delicious, and having fun at the same time. It was intriguing to watch them all work together toward a common goal. When winners in various categories were announced, they were all applauding each other and they became one big team again.

Oh, and after all of the fuss — gluten-free won the Overall Grand Prize! Go Anna B – gluten-free ROCKS!

Thanks to Green Monkey for hosting this dessert challenge. We look forward to more in 2012!


Rhonda is the mother of two adult daughters and a grandmother to five wonderful grandchildren – and our only grandmother on staff. She spent 25 years in corporate healthcare managing prenatal and disease management programs. She is the Content Manager for Richmondmom and contributes her expertise as both a mom and grandmother – while sorting out the many opportunities for our valuable advertisers.