Great Friends Bring Chocolate!

Buried under a mountain of NEVER-ENDING laundry, the doorbell rings. Standing in my doorway is a dear friend holding a little box of chocolate frosted brownies. I, stand at the doorway in my last set of clean clothes-mismatched mind you, while my 15 month old is scooting up the steps clothed in nothing but a diaper and my 3 year old stands in the foyer still wearing her pajamas. Mortified by the state of our appearance?… yes definitely. A smile brought to my face by our surprise visitor?… yes, definitely. Good times made better by a friend bearing chocolate! How blessed and thankful am I!

Coffee would be good with these...

CRAZY for Cupcakes!

Raspberry Chocolate Ganache

Now I know that cupcakes of late, have been all the rage.  You’ve got the fancy ones made by the premier bakeries and you’ve got the cupcake in a box versions that you can pick up at your local grocery store.  All are definitely good.  I guess I didn’t realize the vast creative, and not to mention delicious varieties that come in between the premier bakery and convenience boxed versions!  My eyes were opened as my family and I were invited to a party a few months back that had served some of the most delectable cupcake treats. Cupcakes of various sizes… The traditional full-size cupcakes to petite mini cupcakes. Not to mention little mini cupcake “pops” – or cupcakes on a stick, similar to a lollipop.  Frankly, I think the minis are more dangerous. How long did I stand over the tables popping different varieties of mini cupcakes? Raspberry lime, wacky chocolate cupcakes, chocolate ganache with raspberry… Oh and the “adult” variations… Those flavored with Baileys Irish Creme liquor or raspberry liquor, or even a cosmopolitan!
Beautifully decorated, moist and fresh, positively yummy!  Seeing as the host of the party is also the baker, we ordered 2 dozen of the mini cupcakes for a party.  They were snatched up before I could blink an eye. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But you know what I mean. They were gone in no time. All I was left with were empty serving platters and a few crumbs.  We may not wait until the next time we have guests to place an order!
As for my photo project,  what did I learn on taking pictures of the cupcakes we ordered?  Model selection… I need to be more observant. I love that I was able to find a cupcake that showed the “swirl” of frosting. As for the raspberry ganache, I would have liked to find a way to make the chocolate more shiny looking, and I would have been more selective on my raspberries. What was it that I read somewhere, to make the food glisten? Spray a fine mist, brush with egg wash?  Maybe I’ll try next time, although, I won’t be eating them up after the pictures are taken!  🙂

Here's were I didn't notice the imperfect raspberry...


Loved the caramel creme "swirl" on the Wacky Chocolate Cupcake


In My Kitchen… Choco Chip Cookie Bars

I must confess. Despite the title of this post, this is not MY kitchen, technically. It’s my mom’s. We are visiting her for the holidays and my sister offered to make her famous Choco Chip Cookie Bars. As I’ve taken to copying the recipe down for the umpteenth time, she is working with my 9 and 6 year old children on making these simple, delicious chocolate-chip square bars.

While they bake, I take pictures. My challenge in this setting is the light. When they started making the bars, I had wonderful daylight streaming through the kitchen. I LOVE shooting with natural light. By the time the timer rang, daylight had faded and I am left working with artificial light. Everything is orange it seems, so I’m having to play with the white balance to get the pictures to look pretty.  Light, from what I understand, even from the best of photographers can make or break your pictures.  It’s an art to get it right and to have it convey the “look” you want.

Ding-ding!  The bars are out of the oven, ready for posing AND ready for eating!  Mmmmm-mmm, good!

Let’s see… Fresh from the oven, nothing warms the soul as the comforting scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookie bars. This version, lightly sweetened with the perfect blend of “cookie” to “gooey chocolate chip” ratio. The bars are soft, cake-like, and dense, similar to a brownie, without that under-baked texture. The edges are crisp with that classic brown baked flavor.  I also really like that these bars aren’t overly sweet. The sweetness comes from the chips. The whole thing melts in our mouths. So yummy!

Choco Chip Cookie Bars

Choco Chip Cookie Bars

2/3 c butter (1 1/4 stick)
1 1/2 c light brown sugar
3 eggs beaten
2 3/4 c flour (sifted)
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 c chopped nuts of choice
1 pkg chocolate chips
1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking pan (13×9). Melt butter. Add sugar and blend. Cool. Add beaten egg, vanilla. Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). Add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Mix in nuts and chocolate chips. Pour into greased baking pan. Smooth to edges. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

We often make this without nuts due to family allergies. But you can add whatever you like. Experiment!

This recipe, according to my mom’s yellowing recipe card, came from her friend and former co-worker Molly. Thanks Molly for all the years of sweet enjoyment!

Below in the gallery are some additional pictures I had taken that day.


Just a touch of Salt, please

Happy New Year! What better way to celebrate the holidays and welcome 2011 than with candy? What about salted chocolate covered caramels… Dark chocolate… Ever try one? Friends of mine introduced them to me over Thanksgiving. I’m hooked. The rich, slightly bitter yet sweet dark chocolate encases a creamy gooey caramel center. Absolutely divine! But wait! Encrusted along the top is an accent of sea salt crystals that simply enhances the sweetness of this chewy delight. It really is an elegant piece of sweetness. I’m addicted and my youngest son, age 1, can’t seem to get enough. I almost have to hide in secret when opening the plastic box lid. The sound of the container opening is enough to make him snap his head up and come toddling over to me.

Pulling out my camera, I attempt to get a shot showing off it’s sleek dark features enhanced with the sparkle of its salted crust. It’s a simple piece of candy. In my mind it renders itself to be a simple snap shot. One or two little caramel pieces positioned on black semi-glossy wood finish. Some few inches behind the caramel models, I place its teal labeled container.  Interestingly, when I took the shot under natural light, the label reflected a subtle teal glow onto the table; thereby throwing reflective light behind my subject. I love when I discover little nuances!  My favorite pic is the one I chose for my banner.  Tasty!  They were all gone in 3 days courtesy of my 1 year old and myself.