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Four pastry chefs must concoct desserts that are as decadent and as artful as they are delicious.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN

Host Ron Ben-Israel
Creators/EP Linda Lea
Jonathan McCletchie
Packager Jane Street Productions for Food Network
Origins Food Network Studios, New York City
Web foodnetwork.com/sweetgenius
Airs 10p ET Thurs, Food
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Dark Genius
September 13

Take one part "Chopped", one part "Top Chef Just Desserts", and then throw in the original Chairman from "Iron Chef", and you have... this. Four pastry chefs will play three rounds in this sweet cookoff - using all of their skills, inspiration, and creativity, they'll have to turn ingredients not just into delicious desserts, but edible art. Whoever passes Ron Ben Israel's tests of genius will earn $10,000 and the title of... Sweet Genius.

Today's four candy combatants...

Michael Mignano
Port Washington, NY
pastry chef/owner of Main Street Bakery
Alina Eisenhauer
Worcester, MA
executive pastry chef/owner, Sweet
Salvatore Settepani
Staten Island, NY
pastry chef/owner, Pasticceria Bruno
Michael Bowen
Chicago
pie baker, Baking with Bertha

There are three rounds: frozen, baked, and chocolate. Each one will have mandatory ingredients and one inspiration. These must be incorporated in order to be judge.

Round 1: FROZEN (40 minutes). Your dish must incorporate cinnamon hot candies. The theme... darkness. And that's not the only thing that Chef Ron may have in store for you.

Salvatore: Chocolate Gelato with Cinnamon Hot Topping
Michael M: Passion Fruit Sorbet with Cinnamon Hot Sauce
Michael B: Ice Cream Pie with Cinnamon Semifreddo
Alina: Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Michael M will also add a honey shooter with blackberry worms. Michael B decides to use lady fingers for crust. Alina... needs to turn on her ice cream maker when...

Chef Ron adds another requirement... Rambutan, a fruit native to southeast Asia. It is very delicate and has a high fruit content.

Alina has a rambutan sauce as well. Her dish is refreshing and hot, and the ice cream was deep and intriguing. Michael M. describes his dish as a trickery. His dish is not too sweet, but very fresh and colorful. Michael B's semifreddo is tender... and bland. Salvatore thought about Hell. It looks like a birthday dessert, but it's airy and exciting, with a rich chocolate bottom. But not as dark.

The first chef to fail Chef Ron's test... MICHAEL B.

Round 2: BAKED (50 minutes). Next test must feature champagne. The inspiration... a Faberge egg. The famous Russian bejeweled egg with a surprise in the center.

Alina: Custard Tart with Champagne Sorbet
Michael M: Rosemary Financier with Champagne Gold Leaf Gelee
Salvatore: Puff Pastry with Eggnog Custard

But hold on... there's another ingredient... Frozen waffles. Michael will use the waffle to make a pain perdu, while Salvatore makes breakfast with maple syrup champagne. Alina diamond cuts the waffle and toasts it.

Michael's dessert is a little rubbery, and the financier was disappointing. The French toast is citrusy, and the gelee is intoxicating. His champagne gelee pop is... childish. Alina's sorbet is bubbly, while her waffle is chewy. Salvatore's dish is a bit traditional. It's very attractive, but it doesn't say "luxury", it says "homey". The deviled egg with champagne gelee is genius.

The next chef to head to the door is... SALVATORE.

Round 3: CHOCOLATE (60 minutes). Other than chocolate, you must also have... marrow bones. Its flavor tends to be unctuous, fatty, and fruity. The inspiration... Sand.

We're one hour from a winner.

Michael M: Marrow Hot Dogs with Mint Butter Sauce and Chocolate Mousse inside a Chocolate Cylinder
Alina: Chocolate Sand... and Bone Marrow Sand

And we have another twist... with coffee beans.

Alina's going to make more sand, while Michael will go for a white chocolate mocha ice cream. Alina will add... Peanut butter sand. That's a lot of sand, lady.

Alina used her bone as chocolate driftwood. The chocolate coral is not successful. The bone marrow is meaty. The rest of the dish makes him happy, as he finds it ingenious. Michael's dish does bring back Coney Island... but where's the coffee?

Two different interpretations of sand, but only one of them is Sweet Genius.

Today's Sweet Genius is... ALINA! She wins the $10,000 on her take on chocolate and sand.

Let this be a lesson. Sometimes being a sweet genius is about creating a memory. Hopefully this episode will leave a sweet memory with you as well. Until next time...

To see extras from this episode, visit the official website at foodnetwork.com/sweetgenius