Some things I enjoyed on my recent trip to the Bahamas...

Fried conch:

Shrimp po' boy:
Bahamian lobster tail with garlic & ginger:

Scallops with asparagus & mushrooms:

Banana spring rolls with green tea ice cream:

Soy-glazed tuna sandwich:


homemade margherita pizza

I used this whole wheat pizza dough recipe, and kept it simple with just pizza sauce, fresh basil leaves, and chunks of fresh mozzarella.


the contest

Today, my office had a cookie/dessert bar bake-off. Part friendly competition, and part (perhaps the much larger part) excuse to eat sweets all day long. The rules were simple: Bring in your best homemade cookie or dessert square. Voting was cast by colleagues' blind taste test and anonymous ballots, and at the end of the day we tallied 'em up.

I promised to feature the winner here on food porn. But after seeing the fiercely delicious competition, I had to show them all (as always, you can click on the photos to view them large).

Who will it be? Who is truly master of their dough-main?

I am relieved (and surprised, given the high caliber of the other entries) to report that I tied for first place, with my toffee marshmallow chocolate chunk cookies:
I started with the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe, and made the following tweaks: use a 50/50 mix of salted and unsalted butter (1 stick of each), increase the brown sugar to a full cup, and decrease the white sugar to 1/2 cup. Then I added a generous amount of toffee bits, mini marshmallows, and semisweet chocolate chunks. The toffee and marshmallow completely melted during baking, which infused the cookie with a candy-like quality.

I am proud to share the winner's podium with Tracie, who wowed us with her sinfully rich triple chocolate espresso cookies:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 TBSP brewed espresso
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP unsalted butter
5 oz extra-bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

Whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In electric mixer, briefly whip eggs to break them up. Add sugar, espresso, vanilla and beat on high speed for 15 minutes or until thick.

While eggs are beating, place butter in a small metal bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Scatter the chocolate on top. Heat until butter and chocolate melt. Remove from water and stir until smooth.

Gently fold chocolate mixture into egg mixture until partially combined. (There should still be some streaks in the batter.) Add flour mixture to the batter and carefully fold in. Do this by hand, not with the mixer. Then mix in the chocolate chips. If the batter is runny, let stand 5 minutes to thicken.

Drop batter by heaping spoonful onto greased baking sheets. Bake until cookies are puffed and cracked, about 8-9 minutes. Cool before removing from baking sheets. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Second place was seized by Nicole's fabulous flan squares, which had a flawlessly silky texture:

Third place goes to Amanda, with her ooey-gooey S'mores bars:
Click here for the recipe, which Amanda modified to use 1/4 cup butter, and 2-4 minutes of additional bake time.

In a dead heat for 4th place, we have...

Stacey's "Li'l Fudgies" (perfectly chocolatey squares of happiness):
and Gretchen's "Organic Gut-bombs" (a healthier take on the chocolate chip cookie, using whole wheat flour):

And last, but certainly not least, we have Marisa's cranberry walnut chocolate chip cookies. Which were not only tasty, but I happen to think they were the most photogenic:

Well done, everyone!