Maple Mascarpone Cream

Chocolate Cupcakes with Maple Mascarpone CreamBuy-425

Until recently I knew mascarpone only as a tiramisu ingredient. That’s really a shame because this soft cheese is super tasty and very useful in a ton of other applications as I’ve come to discover. Here I have an easy and delicious maple mascarpone cream that comes together in minutes and has a myriad of uses. It’s got a great fall flavor and a really nice texture, stiffer than whipped cream but still nice and fluffy and not quite as firm and rigid as buttercream. You can use it as frosting on chocolate cupcakes like I did here, plop a dollop of it on a piece of cake or a brownie or use it as a trifle layer with some ganache and crumbled cookies.

Maple Mascarpone Cream
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup mascarpone, softened
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 4½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons maple extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions:
  1. Whip all ingredients until stiff.

Food Photography and Styling: My main aim here was to show the texture of the cream accurately. I wanted to make sure that the viewer could tell that this cream is not smooth like whipped cream. To do that I went in fairly close, made sure that the cream was in sharp focus and brightly lit while I kept most of the actual cupcakes in the dark since they were not the focus of the recipe. I piped with my 1M tip but instead of swirling up a tower like a soft serve cone I wanted the cream to look more like a rose, so I piped from the center of each cupcake towards the outside rather than the other way around. I thought that looked more interesting and elegant and I liked it here. The leaves reinforced the fall and maple theme.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Cranberry Pecan Bread

Cranberry Pecan BreadBuy 421

Fresh cranberries are the perfect baking fruit, aren’t they? Rarely any other ingredient turns from positively vile in its raw form to wonderfully flavorful and punchy after it’s been baked. I put a good amount of them into this bread here, along with some pecans and some cinnamon. It’s great with butter or butter and honey or just by itself. Bon appetite!

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Cranberry Pecan Bread
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients:
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup roughly chopped pecans
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease one 9" by 5" by 2.75" loaf pan or two 7.5" by 3.75" by 2.25" pans.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Beat shortening, butter and sugar until slightly creamy.
  5. Add eggs and continue to beat until well combined.
  6. Add the dry ingredients, milk, cranberries and pecans and beat until well combined.
  7. Fill the batter into the pan/s and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (about 45 minutes).

Food Photography and Styling: This loaf bread looked pretty rustic (aka rough and wobbly) so I chose a set to match that look. I used my new super-rustic (and also super-rusty) table as a surface. It’s got great color and texture and worked really well here, I think. I placed the bread on a bit of torn-up paper and put aluminum foil underneath the paper (out of sight of the camera) to protect the surface from grease stains. To make the shot more dynamic I wanted the slices to look as if they were marching toward the viewer and to accomplish that I laid one of them down and stood the other one upright at an angle to the one lying. That arrangement had the added benefit of showing the inside of the bread clearly; if both slices had been lying only the top crust would have been visible. To add to the motion I put some twisted kitchen twine along the side of the loaf. I paid close attention to the rule of thirds here and positioned the cranberry clusters in the upright slice along the lower dividing line and on the lower two intersection points. This bread can be eaten with butter so I put a tiny butter keeper and a knife in the background as supporting characters in the cast so-to-speak.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Spiced Eggnog

Spiced Eggnog with Whipped CreamBuy 397

Our evenings are getting mighty cold up here in the mountains which means it’s time for eggnog! I actually used to not like this sweet, custardy drink but I discovered recently that that was only because I had never had the homemade version. The difference between store-bought and home-cooked eggnog is enormous and it’s really delicious if you make it yourself. It’s also very quick and easy to prepare so I highly recommend you leave the tasteless stuff at the store and cook up your own. Enjoy!

Spiced Eggnog
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (plus more for garnish)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup rum
  • whipped cream (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Heat the milk to a low simmer in a saucepan.
  2. While the milk is heating up, whisk sugar, spice and egg yolks until they are lighter in color and texture than they were when you started.
  3. Take about ¼ cup of the hot milk and quickly whisk it into the sugar/egg mix.
  4. Repeat previous step two more times.
  5. Transfer the milk/egg mix into the saucepan.
  6. Stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, bring the custard to a low simmer and keep simmering until it is thick enough to just coat the back of the spoon.
  7. Let the custard cool completely.
  8. Stir in the cream and the rum.
  9. Serve cold, with whipped cream and pumpkin spice sprinkled on top.

Food Photography and Styling: In the name of efficiency I reused the set I had up for my spiced hot chocolate a while ago. I placed my wooden spice box in the back along with a nutmeg, a cinnamon stick and some sprinkled pumpkin spice to tell the viewer that these spices are part of the drink. To keep the whipped cream from looking too bright I sprinkled some pumpkin spice over it.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

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This entry was posted in drinks.

Prop Talk – Packing Paper

Hi there! It’s time for another installment of Prop Talk! To see all past Prop Talk posts just click the link in the menu at the top.

Today’s post is about a great-looking and very cheap alternative to plates: packing paper. I love to use brown or white packing paper in my photos, I find it lends a great rustic and casual feel to the shot. You can cut or tear the paper into the perfect size, you can crumple it up to make it look used, and you can put grease stains on it to give the shot extra appetite appeal. You can even partially wrap food in it and tie it up with a string. It’s very versatile and often works much better than a rigid plate.

Below are a few examples of how I’ve used packing paper in food photos on this blog.

Raspberry Habanero Jam Glazed Chicken Burger
From post Raspberry Habanero Jam-Glazed Chicken Burger

Turkey Cranberry Panini
From post Turkey Cranberry Grilled Sandwich with Orange Tarragon Mustard.

Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Cookies
From post Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Cookies

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