Spiced Hot Chocolate

Spice Hot Chocolate

I made some of my pumpkin spice ganache this weekend, had some left over and decided to turn it into a pumpkin-spiced hot chocolate. It took only a few minutes to make and turned out great! Delicious chocolate flavor with just the right amount of spices (pumpkin spice, by the way, is a mix of cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, ginger, clove and allspice). Hope you give it a try, if you do, let me know what you think :)

4.0 from 1 reviews
Spiced Hot Chocolate
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Drink
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 ounce milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (plus extra for garnish)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • whipped cream (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Put chocolate and spice into a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream in a saucepan and bring to a full boil.
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate/spice mix and let it sit for 1 minute.
  4. Stir the mix until smooth.
  5. Divide the ganache between two 8-ounce cups.
  6. Heat up the milk, pour 1 cup of hot milk into each cup and stir well.
  7. Pipe whipped cream on the drinks and sprinkle with pumpkin spice.

Food Photography and Styling: Since this is a recipe for hot chocolate and not for whipped cream I used a glass rather than a cup, so that you could actually see the drink. I also wanted to show the spice in some fashion and thought back and forth as to how to do that. Putting a tipped-over jar of it in the background was one option I pondered but in the end I settled on placing a spice box in the background. I put some nutmegs into one of the box compartments and left the other one empty. In addition I sprinkled some cinnamon bark on the wood surface (nutmeg and cinnamon are part of pumpkin spice so that altogether made sense). I piped the whipped cream with my 1M tip and sprinkled pumpkin spice (through a little fine mesh strainer) over it to keep it from looking too naked and to create a focal point.

 

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.

More Spice Train Posts:

Shrimp Gumbo

Shrimp Gumbo and Rice

This recipe requires a bit of elbow grease – one full hour of continuous stirring to be exact – but it’s great biceps exercise! And it tastes wonderful, so that alone makes it all worth it. Here’s how it works: you make a roux from peanut oil and flour in a Dutch oven. You stir and stir and stir and watch the roux go from beige and smooth to oatmeal color and clumpiness, then through a chunky peanut butter look, a smooth peanut butter look and then a chocolate look. When you’ve arrived at a good, deep chocolate color, you pat yourself on the back and take a quick nap. Then you just saute some vegetables, add some broth, some spices and the roux, simmer a little and finish with shrimp. That’s it! See, it’s not so bad. And it does taste really delicious, so I say go ahead and try it!

Shrimp Gumbo
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main course
Serves: 6
Ingredients:
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried French thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
  • ~ 40 medium-sized raw shrimp
  • 3 green onions, sliced
Instructions:
  1. Whisk peanut oil and flour in a Dutch oven until smooth.
  2. Turn the heat on to high and cook, while stirring with a wooden spoon, for 1 minute.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to stir until the roux has a chocolate color (about 1 hour). See notes.
  4. Let the roux cool down to almost room temperature.
  5. Transfer the roux into a bowl and set aside.
  6. Heat the canola oil in the Dutch oven until shimmering.
  7. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and saute on medium heat until they start to soften (about 8 minutes.)
  8. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  9. Add the chicken broth, then stir in the roux and let the mix come to a boil, stirring continuously.
  10. Add the bay leaves, thyme, oregano and Hungarian paprika, put on the lid and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
  11. Add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes until pink and opaque.
  12. Serve with rice and sprinkle on some green onions.
Notes:
Here's what will happen during the hour of roux cooking:

First the roux will look like oatmeal, then like chunky peanut butter, then like smooth peanut butter, then like light milk chocolate. When you're approaching milk chocolate color, turn the heat off but continue to stir for another 10 minutes. There's so much residual heat in the Dutch oven that the cooking process will continue.

 

Food Photography and Styling: Right away I liked the beautiful sheen on this gumbo, it looked very elegant so I placed the dish in an elegant set. I used a nice fabric that looked like a tablecloth you might find on a restaurant table. I ironed the cocktail napkin (it’s the one from Crate &Barrel) to create a distinct crease which, to my mind, added to the elegant look and also created some motion and made the whole photo feel much less rigid. I chose a glass with a very short stem rather than a traditional wineglass whose tall stem would have looked out of proportion. (It’s a glass from Crate & Barrel, the same one I used in the hazelnut pumpkin spice trifle photo). The background is a wood surface (it’s an antique shutter) and I chose it because I liked its texture as a background in this photo and its color was a good fit for the fabric.

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.

More Spice Train Posts:

Prop Talk – Nutshells

It’s a prop talk Wednesday! (Quick explanation for those of you who are new to this blog: every second Wednesday I write a post about some of my favorite food photography props. You can see all previous prop talk installments by clicking the Prop Talk! tab in the menu at the top) .

Today I’ll talk about nutshells, which can make very simple but very effective props. (Simple is often best, isn’t it?) I have used nutshells in many photos, one example is the Thai curry ingredients shot below. The coconut shell and husk shards add some texture and, since they are brown just like the wood surface, they break up the plane without being distracting. The shards are reusable, I washed and dried them thoroughly after I took the coconut apart and now I just keep them in a paper bag for future use. (Note: I live in a very dry climate and it’s possible that long-term storage is not an option in humid areas, I’m not sure).

Thai Curry
From post Next up: Thai and Indian Curries.

I went a step further in the photo below and used the entire half of a coconut as a prop, in this case as a bowl.

Coconut Curry Soup

From post Coconut Curry Soup.

Another beautiful nut I like to use is hazelnut. I just crack a few of the little guys until I get the size and shape I want. (I personally really like the shards to be tear-shaped like the ones in the examples below).

Hazelnut Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Trifles

From post Hazelnut Pumpkin Spice Trifles.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

From post Hazelnut Pumpkin Spice Cookies.

That’s all for today, next time I’ll tell you about some of my wood surfaces that I use in the background of photos as “wooden walls.”

 

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Turnip Cauliflower Gratin

Turnip-Cauliflower-Gratin-Nutmeg-Thyme

Turnips used to be one of those root vegetables I neither knew much nor cared much about until I grew a few of them in our garden this year (the seeds must have been on sale or maybe I wasn’t wearing my glasses and thought I was buying tulip seeds, I don’t remember exactly). I didn’t expect much in the way of taste when I bit into my first turnip but was really surprised that they actually had a lot of character. Somewhat sharp, maybe, if not diluted with other, milder vegetables but still really good. I immediately thought they would pair well with some boring cauliflower so I came up with this gratin. It is very creamy, has a good amount of sauce in it and goes well with any kind of beef. Hope you like it!

Turnip Cauliflower Gratin
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 3½ cups small cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup turnip chunks (1/2-inch cubes)
  • 2 cups + ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 teaspoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grated Asiago cheese
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • about ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
Instructions:
  1. Put cauliflower, turnip, 2 cups milk and heavy cream into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, put on the lid and simmer until the vegetables are tender (about 13 minutes).
  2. To make the roux melt the butter in a pan, then whisk in the flour. Cook, while whisking, until no clumps remain, then whisk in the remaining milk and keep whisking until no clumps remain.
  3. Whisk the roux into the vegetable/milk/cream mix.
  4. Stirring constantly bring the mix back to a boil and cook until thickened, then turn the heat off.
  5. Stir in the salt, the cheese, the nutmeg and the thyme.
  6. Fill into a casserole pan or individual baking dishes, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and drizzle a little oil onto the breadcrumbs.
  7. Broil until the breadcrumbs are brown.

Food Photography and Styling: To give the viewer an accurate idea of this dish it was important to show in the photo that this gratin was very “saucy” and not the firmer kind that you can cut into a square and put on a plate. That’s why I did’t show the intact surface but instead took a bite out of it, placed the spoon into the bowl and let some sauce ooze onto it. I sprinkled a few breadcrumbs on the wood surface to reinforce the idea that someone had just started to eat out of the bowl.

The cutting board was small enough to fit the bowl nicely and I placed it such that its handle was in the frame. (I always like to do that, a cutting board without a handle or one with the handle outside of the frame always makes me think there is something missing). The bowl is another dessert bowl from Heath ceramics (the same kind and size as the one I used here). I sprinkled some thyme leaves over the gratin to give the viewer the cue that thyme is part of this recipe and to help create a  focal point.

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.

More Spice Train Posts: