Tag Archives: Flourless

Food Photography at Home

It’s a shame I don’t do more photography. My bachelor’s degree is in art, and photography was one of my main forms of expression. I’d have to same time has passed and made it too easy for me to forget my camera. As a result, I’m underpracticed. So I’ve decided that’s going to change!

I spent some of my birthday money on this book I’ve been lusting for a while now. Plate to Pixel. It’s a book on very basic food photography—a concept that was barely even mentioned in my advanced photography class.

I’ve also decided to transform our guest room into my personal photography studio. I fell in love with the window in there the moment we toured the house, and Ed mentioned that he was disappointed that we hardly used the room at all. I still have all the guest room furniture in there, but I’ve moved stuff around so I have room for my photography equipment by the window. Before now, any time I wanted to take food photos, I had to drag furniture around my dining room, pull out a mess of stuff, and have to clean up afterwards (or leave unsightly clutter in my most minimalist-designed room in the house). Now that I have a separate space, I can just leave my stuff and close the door!

(Forgive blurry iPhone photos. As you can see, my SLR was otherwise occupied in what is now my new favorite thing—shooting tethered!)

 

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Finally my AWANA trophies come out of the closet and serve some purpose!

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I normally think that any bed larger than a twin looks tacky when shoved into a corner, but considering function was priority over fashion in this case, I made the move. I’m glad I did though! Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s a full-sized bed, so not huge, but I think it looks better this way! When the bed is made, of course…

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One of the first things I experimented my new skills on was a flourless mocha cake I took to a church function the other day. Check out the results of that shoot!

 

And my favorite…!

 

I think it would be cruel to leave you without the recipe to this beauty, so enjoy!

 

Flourless Mocha Layer Cake
Adapted from the Southern Living Christmas Cookbook

Cake:
1 cup chocolate chips (I used dark)
1/4 cup strong coffee
5 large eggs, divided
3/4 cup sugar (I used sucanat, but coconut sugar, turbinado, or regular granulated will work just fine)

Cream filling:
1 cup whipping cream
~1/2 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee granules (1/2 packet of Starbucks Via brew works too)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Lightly oil the bottoms of two or three (I only have two) round cake pans. Then, cut parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the pans. You do NOT want to skip this step. This is a fragile cake and trying to pull the cake out of the pan without the parchment paper on the bottom will make the cake fall apart. I know from personal experience. Don’t skip.

Microwave the chocolate chips and the coffee together in 30 second intervals, stirring EACH TIME, until the mixture is smooth and chocolate is melted. Set aside and allow to cool.

Whip the egg whites together until strong peaks form. In a separate bowl, whip the egg yolks and the 3/4 cup of sugar together until smooth and the yolks have lightened in color. Stir the melted chocolate in with the egg yolk mixture. Then, gently fold in 1/3 of the stiff egg whites into the chocolate batter. ONCE INCORPORATED (don’t obsess over getting it all mixed in, lest you break down all the air bubbles and the cake will be nasty and flat), add in half of what’s left of the stiff egg whites, gently folding. Then, add the last. The batter should be light and airy. Don’t worry about visible eggy air bubbles. It’s better to err on the side of not-combined-enough.

Pour the batter evenly among the three cake pans. Or you can do two layers. Or you can do what I do and put 1/3 of the batter into each of my TWO round pans, bake them, empty them, and then bake the last layer separately. Remember that parchment lining? Don’t skip it!

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pans and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before de-panning. The sides of the cake will separate from the pan.

While the cake is baking, in a mixing bowl, combine the cream, espresso powder, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Whip at a high speed with your mixer until stiff peaks form. You may want to taste it to see if the strength of the coffee flavor is to your liking.

Once the cakes are cool, de-pan them one-by-one, peeling off the parchment paper, and layer them with the cream filling in between them. Sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar or cocoa powder, if desired.

Summer Fruit Tart

About two weeks ago, I ate nectarines and plums for the very first time. This may seem a shocker for some, but here in Texas, peaches are the “big deal” fruit of the season. However, most peaches around these parts aren’t really ready until July. But the nectarines, plums, and apricots, however, are ready for the picking.

When Edgar first ate a nectarine (same time I did), he confessed that he may like nectarines more than peaches! (To that I responded that it wasn’t peach season yet, so he couldn’t really make that assessment. Winking smile )

When I first ate on, I realized that I needed to turn nectarines into dessert! Stat!

When the sun comes out every year as the mercury rises, I think we all tend to stash away our chocolate desserts and reach for the fresh fruits of the seasons. Since many people I know disliked cooked fruit, I came up with this fruit tart that is only about 2/3 cooked. And given my recent efforts toward simplicity in cooking and baking, I decided to make the crust with almond meal and sweeten the entire dessert with only honey and fruit. Thus, this dessert is grain-free and wholesome. And given the simple construction of this confection, you can easily swap out portions to cater to your own tastes! Red current jam or whipped cream instead of lemon curd? Berries instead of stone fruits? Go ahead and experiment!

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Summer Fruit Tart

8 oz (about 2 cups) almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
4 oz (1/4 c) solid coconut oil
1 egg
1 T honey

1 full recipe Lemon curd (I followed this recipe exactly. In the interest of respect for other food bloggers, I’m not listing the recipe here. Follow the link and you’ll find the original recipe!)

About 3 each nectarines and plums, pitted and cut into wedges
About 1 tbsp honey. If too thick to spread with a basting brush, thin only SLIGHTLY with warm water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, salt, and cinnamon until integrated. Then add the coconut oil, in pieces, and cut it into the almond meal mixture with a fork until the mix resembles a very coarse meal. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the egg and honey. Then add the egg mix to the almond meal mix and combine until the dough is one well-integrated ball. Set aside.

Line an 8.5×11 baking pan with parchment paper (or omit this step entirely and use a tart pan! In hindsight I think the recipe would be even better this way). You may have to cut the paper narrow to fit inside the pan. This will be used like a sling to help lift the tart out of the pan later. Take the dough and press it into the bottom of the pan on top of the parchment paper. It will be a thin crust and you may have to use a spoon to spread it.

Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes until firm and just barely turning brown on the edges. Allow the crust to cool on a cooling rack for an hour.

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Once cooled, apply the full lemon curd recipe on top of the crust. It will be a little runny. It’s okay. Call it rustic and lick the curd off your fingers when nobody is looking.

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Arrange the nectarine and plum wedges in a pretty pattern on top of the curd. Then brush honey on top of the fruit to glisten!

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Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Enjoy!

Nutella Cookies!

Sorry this is a day late for my weekly Thursday editions of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets, but I was sick with the plague on Wednesday and Thursday, but today I am better and I have a real treat for you!

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This recipe takes the flourless peanut butter cookie to a whole new level! These are flourless Nutella cookies! And they are so simple to make!

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Toss all the ingredients in a bowl…

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…stir well…

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Portion out onto a cookie sheet and smoosh with a fork al la peanut butter cookie.

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And bake!

Allow to cool and enjoy!

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I also love that because they are flourless, they are naturally gluten-free! My tummy thanks me tremendously! Smile

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Flourless Nutella Cookies
Recipe from St Petersburg Times

1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, like Nutella (you could use Justin’s brand of chocolate hazelnut butter, but it probably wouldn’t be as sweet)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I’ve used “peanut butter spread” types like Peter Pan. OMG. Stay away unless you want fail cookies that taste totally off!)
1 heaping tablespoon natural cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Then portion out dough into 1 tbsp-size balls and place on a cookie sheet. Mash lightly with the prongs of a fork in a criss-cross fashion. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Don’t overbake! You want them to still be soft when you take them out, because they will set outside the oven.

Allow to cool/set.

Enjoy!

Makes about two dozen cookies

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