Coffee Borgia Mousse

coffee borgia mousse

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

This dessert was inspired by one of my favorite espresso drinks, the coffee Borgia. A Borgia is like a mocha (espresso, chocolate syrup, steamed milk) but with orange zest mixed in. It’s a wonderful flavor combination that I recreated in this chocolate mousse with melted bittersweet chocolate, a bit of heavy cream, espresso powder and orange zest. The recipe is very easy to make, takes no more than about 15 minutes total and you can easily scale it up and make a fancy dessert for a large crowd.

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Coffee Borgia Mousse Recipe

serves 2

by Nicole Branan

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used a Ghirardelli 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bar)*
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon very finely grated orange zest (about one orange)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • two thin orange slices as garnish

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt the chocolate along with the cream and the espresso powder in a bowl over simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, take it off the water pot. Stir in the orange zest then set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg yolk with the sugar in a bowl until lighter in color and texture than when you started.
  3. Quickly whisk the chocolate mix into the egg/sugar mix in two to three batches.
  4. With an electric mixer, whip the egg white with the cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
  5. Whisk about half of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate.
  6. Carefully fold the remaining whipped egg white into the chocolate mix (take a half-turn around the bowl with the whisk and then shake the mousse through the tines of the whisk).
  7. As soon as no streaks remain, fill the mousse into individual serving bowls. Work quickly because the mousse will set very fast.
  8. Garnish with the orange slices and serve by itself or with whipped cream.

 

RECIPE NOTES:

*Don’t use chocolate morsels; morsels have stabilizers in them that actually prevent them from melting.

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Food Photography and Styling: I was going for rustic with a touch of elegance here so I used rough wood planks as a surface (the same ones that I used here) and a fancy cocktail glass to hold the mousse. The thin orange slice on the surface of the mousse wasn’t a strong enough clue that this dessert is quite heavily orange-flavored in my opinion so I added more orange in the back of the frame to reinforce the idea. The set still looked a bit naked so I placed a few chocolate squares here and there. I observed the rule of thirds very closely here and placed the glass along the right vertical dividing line and the orange slice on the mousse on an intersection point.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/4, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Vanilla Cream with Cinnamon Sugared Cranberries

Say hello to an absolute smasher of a holiday dessert. If you’re looking to serve something that’s easy and next to impossible to mess up but at the same time stellar both in taste and looks then this is the ticket.

vanilla cream with cinnamon sugared cranberries dessert

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

The vanilla cream is actually the same recipe I already shared with you a while ago here; it’s made with eggs, cream, vanilla and sugar, stiffened with gelatin and takes literally just a few minutes to put together.*

The cranberries are quick and easy as well, you just simmer up a simple syrup flavored with cinnamon, briefly submerge frozen cranberries in it, then roll the berries in sugar. I sprinkled a few chopped pistachios over everything for extra visual appeal but you can skip them if you want to. The light and sweet vanilla cream contrasts perfectly with the tart berries that have just a hint of cinnamon flavor. It’s my new favorite dessert, and not just for the holidays!

*The vanilla cream recipe comes from The Centennial Collection of Favorite Recipes from Grace Episcopal Church in Paducah KY, Second Edition 1975

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Vanilla Cream with Cinnamon Sugared Cranberries Recipe

serves 6

by Nicole Branan

INGREDIENTS:

For the cranberries:

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (more for rolling)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries

 

For the vanilla cream:

  • 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • one 2-inch piece of vanilla bean
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • finely chopped pistachios for garnish (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS:

For the cranberries:

  1. Heat sugar, water and cinnamon in a saucepan to a simmer.
  2. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the cranberries. Stir them around to make sure they are completely coated with the syrup.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cranberries onto parchment paper.
  4. Add granulated sugar to a shallow bowl then roll the cranberries around in it, one by one, until they are all fully coated.

For the vanilla cream:

  1. Add gelatin along with 3 tablespoons of cold water to a saucepan. Let sit for 4 minutes.
  2. Cut the vanilla bean open and scrape out the seeds.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla seeds in a bowl until creamy.
  4. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
  5. Whip the cream with 1 teaspoon sugar to stiff peaks.
  6. Heat the bloomed gelatin just until dissolved.
  7. Whisk the gelatin into the egg yolk mix.
  8. Fold in the cream.
  9. Fold in the egg whites.
  10. Fill the mix into a large bowl and chill.
  11. Scoop the cream onto individual plates and serve with the cranberries.
  12. Sprinkle pistachios on for garnish.

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Food Photography and Styling: The plates you see in this photo are actually meant for large candles (I think I got them at World Market a few years ago) but I like to use them as props for food and I thought their elegant and modern look went well with this dessert.

I took the plates off my prop shelf and had just set them on a small black table next to a window when I saw a ray of morning sunlight run across them. The light looked absolutely beautiful on the plates and I would have photographed the dish in that natural light but I hadn’t actually made the dessert yet (and of course the light was gone within 15 minutes) so I tried to replicate that same morning light with my strobe.

That is one of the aspects of food photography I still enjoy the most, taking full command over my equipment and creating and placing every shadow and every highlight exactly where I want it. It’s always a challenge and it took a bit of experimenting here but I settled on my through the doorframe technique and used a thin white curtain to diffuse the light.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/8, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight.

S’mores Mousse Tart with Crystallized Ginger Meringue

Smores Mousse Tart with Crystallized Ginger Meringue

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

You can think of this as a fancy s’mores tart. What I love about it is that it has all the great features that s’mores have and none of the annoying ones.

Instead of gooey, uber–sweet marshmallow fluff it’s got a torched meringue whose flavor is enhanced by little pieces of crystallized ginger. The chocolate part is a creamy, bittersweet mousse instead of straight melted squares that get all over your fingers.

The crust is a graham cracker crust, but not just any old graham cracker crust. Rather than crushing up the bland, store-bought crackers I used this delicious homemade graham cracker recipe and morphed it into a tart crust recipe. And it was surprisingly easy to do, too. I basically just left out the leavening agent (baking soda) and that was all that was needed.

Just like any graham cracker crust dough this one is too brittle to roll out and transfer into the tart pan, instead you need to press it in with your fingers. I flavored both the tart crust and the chocolate mousse with my favorite spice blend, pumpkin spice, but if you’re not into that (really?) you can use cinnamon in the crust instead and leave the spice out of the mousse entirely.

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S’mores Mousse Tart with Crystallized Ginger Meringue Recipe

by Nicole Branan

INGREDIENTS:

For the graham cracker crust:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup light-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey

For the chocolate filling:

  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped*
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For the meringue topping:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (make sure you have the individual pieces more or less separated and not in one large clump to make it easier to fold them into the meringue)

 

DIRECTIONS:

For the graham cracker crust:

  1. Whisk the flours, wheat germ, salt and pumpkin spice together in a bowl.
  2. Beat butter, sugar and honey for a few minutes until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the flour mix.
  4. Bring the dough together with your hands and flatten into a disc.
  5. Press the dough into a 9-inch greased tart pan, then place the pan in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Bake the tart crust until golden-brown (8–12 minutes).
  8. Let cool completely.

For the chocolate filling:

  1. Add chocolate and pumpkin spice to a bowl.
  2. Bring 3/4 cup heavy cream to a boil, then pour over the chocolate/spice mix and let sit for a minute.
  3. Stir to combine cream and chocolate into a smooth mix. (If you end up with chocolate clumps, gently heat the mix over a pot of simmering water). Let cool.
  4. Whip 1 cup heavy cream with the sugar to stiff peaks.
  5. Fold the cream into the chocolate mix.
  6. Pour the mousse into the cold crust, spread out evenly with an offset spatula, then chill in the fridge for 1.5 hours.

For the meringue topping:

  1. Beat the egg whites until they start to foam, then, with the mixer running, gradually add the granulated sugar until you get glossy peaks.
  2. Again with the mixer running, gradually add the powdered sugar.
  3. Fold in the crystallized ginger.
  4. Spread the topping onto the chocolate mousse tart and briefly burn with a torch.

 

RECIPE NOTES:

*Don’t use chocolate morsels; morsels have stabilizers in them that actually prevent them from melting.

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Food Photography and Styling: What I really liked about this tart was the alternating layers of brown and white and to extend that color pattern to the rest of the photo I put the tart on a white cake stand and set it into a brown set. The slice I cut out of the tart was a mess so I couldn’t put that into the composition and instead I just put the dirty knife into the frame to complete the story. As usual I used my strobe and large softbox and lit the set from the left with a few flags to keep the background (which is my trusty wood tray) dark.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/4.5, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Cinnamon Bourbon Honey Cayenne Roasted Plum Tart

Cinnamon Bourbon Honey Cayenne Roasted Plum Tart

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

This plum tart features a multitude of flavors but is really easy to make. Best of all, the tart shell and the filling are prepared completely separately, so the danger of a soggy crust is reduced to a minimum.

Here’s how it goes: you macerate the fruit in a mix of Bourbon, honey, cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper. All those flavors work very well together, the cayenne pepper adds just a bit of sharpness that enhances the cinnamon. Once the plums have soaked up all the liquid you roast them in the oven until they are soft. Then you lay them into the fully baked shell and voila, your tart is ready to serve!

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Cinnamon Bourbon Honey Cayenne Roasted Plum Tart Recipe

by Nicole Branan

INGREDIENTS:

For the crust:

  • 1.25 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons ice water (more if needed)

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup Bourbon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 9 ripe plums
  • whipped cream to serve

 

DIRECTIONS:

For the crust:

  1. Whisk flour, sugar and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Add the shortening and the butter and cut them in with a pastry cutter until you have the consistency of a meal.
  3. Sprinkle the water over the fat/flour/sugar mix and bring the dough together with your hands. (If the dough doesn’t come together, add a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time).
  4. Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Roll out the dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap and then fit into an 9-inch greased tart pan.
  6. Put back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  7. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Line the dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove the weights and the foil and bake until golden-brown (about another 20 minutes), then take out and let cool but leave the oven running at 350 degrees F. While the crust bakes, make the filling.

For the filling:

  1. Add Bourbon to a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Let cool.
  2. Stir in honey, cinnamon and cayenne. Set aside.
  3. Slice the plums into wedges and add to a large bowl.
  4. Pour the Bourbon glaze into the bowl and toss the plums in it until they are well coated. Let the plums macerate in the liquid for 20 minutes.
  5. Spread the plum slices out on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Don’t throw away the macerating liquid.
  6. Lay the slices into the tart shell in circles, then brush some of the remaining cinnamon liquid onto the plums.
  7. Serve with whipped cream.

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Food Photography and Styling: To show the nice spiral pattern that the plum slices formed I shot this tart from an overhead perspective. I started the shoot by setting the tart pan directly on the wood and then tried various items underneath it (fabrics and paper of various colors). The white paper looked best to me because of the way it made the black, scalloped rim of the pan stand out, it gave the tart a really pretty outline. As far as equipment goes I used my strobe (as always) but instead of my 105mm lens I actually used my 60mm macro lens here. I generally only use the 60mm on restaurant shoots (because space can be very limited in a restaurant) but I was in the middle of reorganizing my studio last week and just didn’t have a high enough ladder on hand.

Nikon D600, 60mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 250. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Rosemary Caramel

Why I love it: The goat cheese and the rosemary add new and interesting flavors that transform this simple dessert into something special.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Rosemary Caramel Sauce Recipe
Forest Picnic Spot
Rosemary Caramel Sauce
Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Rosemary Infused Caramel Sauce
Forest Summer Picnic Spot

To license any of the images please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Hi there! How’s your summer going? I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I do, it’s been great over here in the Rockies. The weather is wonderful and we’ve already been doing lots of great hiking and a bit of camping. I should say “glamping” because we have a small camper with such delightful features as a bed, running water, a stovetop and a fridge. It’s awesome, I love that little thing. The fridge is nice and spacey so it’s no problem to bring cheesecake(s) either and what you see here is my new favorite camping dessert: goat cheese cheesecake drizzled with rosemary caramel sauce.

From what I can tell rosemary caramel sauce seems to be a common accompaniment to cheesecake but I had never made it until last week, which is a shame because it tastes fantastic. You make it simply by infusing the cream you use for your caramel sauce with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

The goat cheese cheesecake recipe comes from Whole Foods. I saw it and knew immediately that I had to try it, I mean what a great idea! The result was wonderful, the goat cheese adds its signature tangy flavor to the cake and turns it into something half savory. The cake is not very sweet at all, the sweetness in this dessert comes mostly from the caramel sauce.

As you can see I made individual small cakes with tart molds here but you can also make one large cheesecake. Either way it’s a great dessert for just about any occasion and also perfect for bringing to a picnic in the forest and eating on a bench under a nice, shady tree.

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Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Rosemary Caramel Recipe

This recipe is for one 9-inch springform pan or 8 individual 4-inch tart molds with removable bottoms. Fill the pan or molds 3/4 full.

Recipe adapted from: Whole Foods Market

INGREDIENTS:

For the graham cracker crust:

  • 1 and 1/3 cup crushed graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 12 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1.25 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs

For the rosemary caramel sauce:

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 long sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

 

DIRECTIONS:

For the graham cracker crust and the cheesecake:

  1. Head on over to Whole Foods for instructions. Small individual tarts take much less time to bake than a 9-inch cake, start to check them after 10 minutes.

For the rosemary caramel sauce:

  1. Add the cream and the rosemary sprig to a saucepan.
  2. Heat the cream until it starts to simmer, then turn the heat off, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the rosemary sprig and transfer the cream to a container you can pour from. Set aside.
  4. Clean the saucepan well, then add the water to it.
  5. Add the sugar in a mound into the middle of the saucepan. Be careful not to have any sugar on the sides of the pan.
  6. Turn the heat on to high and without any stirring or touching of any sort, let the sugar/water mix come to a full boil. Be careful, the mix will get very, very hot. Do not touch the pot or the caramel under any circumstances.
  7. Keep boiling the mix on high heat (still without any stirring) until it starts to turn golden brown.
  8. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to boil until the mix reaches a deep amber color.
  9. Turn the heat off.
  10. Standing back, very slowly whisk the cream into the mix, a little bit at a time. The sauce will bubble violently and is still very hot, so be careful.
  11. Let the sauce cool until you can handle it easily and fill into a glass container. If it’s too thick by the time you want to use it, gently warm it up over a pot of hot water or in the microwave.

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Food Photography and Styling: Photographing whole, large cheesecakes is really a trick and trying to cut a perfect piece out of a whole cheesecake is even more difficult so to make it easier on myself I resorted to a small, individual cake. Drips are always beautiful in my opinion so I made sure to have some caramel sauce run over the sides of the cake (and to imply that I had just poured the sauce I let a drip run down the saucepan in the background as well). That was a bit of a trick too because the sauce had to have just the right temperature to be runny enough to form drips but not too runny to run away, so to speak. Since you can’t see the rosemary in the sauce I put a sprig of it on top of the cake and sprinkled some in the background as well.

Ginger Cardamom Hazelnut Raspberry Apple Crisp

Why I love it: This crisp is easy to make and bursting with great flavors. Both the fruit mix and the topping can be prepared in advance and because it’s a one-dish dessert cleanup is easy too!

Ginger Cardamom Hazelnut Raspberry Apple Crisp with Whipped Cream

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

I’m not a big fan of raw fruit but I am a huge fan of fruit crisps. What an incredible transformation they are. You start with hard, boring apples and tart, twist-your-face-into-a-grimace raspberries and end with a juicy, crispy, warm, sweet and tasty dish of deliciousness.

For this crisp I flavored the fruit with freshly grated ginger and ground cardamom and topped it with a hazelnut streusel. The nuts add great flavor and crunch, so don’t be tempted to skip them. You can make both the fruit mix and the streusel in advance and then keep them in the fridge for several hours. Once you’re ready, you bake the crisp for about an hour and then serve it warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (or indeed both. I mean, why not!)

Ginger Cardamom Hazelnut Raspberry Apple Crisp Dessert

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

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Ginger Cardamom Hazelnut Raspberry Apple Crisp Recipe

serves 3-4

by Nicole Branan

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2–inch chunks
  • 12 ounces fresh raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Toss apples, raspberries, ginger, cardamom, cornstarch and 2 teaspoons brown sugar in a bowl.
  3. Fill into baking pan(s).
  4. Add oats, flour, hazelnuts, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and salt to a bowl.
  5. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter.
  6. Sprinkle the mix over the fruit.
  7. Bake until the topping is golden-brown (about 1 hour).
  8. Serve with whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream.

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Food Photography and Styling: Since this is not an elegant but more of a rustic dessert I went with a rustic wood set and kept the styling very casual. The hazelnuts are really important to me in this recipe and you can’t see them in the streusel so I put some whole nuts, some shells and some chopped hazels in the composition. I took the second photo first and really liked it but I thought you couldn’t really see the actual food very well so I took another photo at a steeper angle.

10-Minute Pumpkin Spice S’mores Trifles

Why I love it: This super easy s’mores trifle dessert is perfect when you want to serve up the classic burnt, crunchy, gooey, melted chocolate dessert flavors but don’t have a campfire handy. It takes almost no work at all, cleanup is a breeze, and because you eat this s’more with a spoon you won’t get it all over your face.

10-minute pumpkin spice smores trifles recipe

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Memorial day weekend is coming up and that means s’mores season is finally kicking off! S’mores are one of America’s finest inventions, in my opinion. The combination of flavors and textures is wonderful and never gets old. The one minor gripe I have with s’mores is their messiness, there is just about no way to eat them without bathing your hands, cheeks and chin in chocolate and marshmallow goo. How do you get around that? Very simple, you turn the s’more into the trifle that I have here and eat it with a spoon.

The dessert is made up of layers of crumbled graham crackers (mixed with a bit of melted butter and a smidgen of pumpkin spice), chocolate layers that consist of simple hazelnut spread (warmed up a bit to make it easier to drizzle) and marshmallow cream toasted with a torch. I got the idea for this recipe from My Baking Addiction (a blog as beautiful as it is delicious) but left out the strawberries and added the pumpkin spice (because it works great with the hazelnutty chocolate).

One thing is important when you assemble the trifle: don’t use too much chocolate or marshmallow cream because they are both very, very sweet. You want about half of each spoonful to be graham cracker crumbles. (This doesn’t come across in the photo because the marshmallow cream tends to spread to the outside of the glass and hides a lot of the graham crumbles from view).

Anyway, there it is, a very easy, fast, cheap and delicious s’mores dessert that doesn’t get your hands (or face) dirty.

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10-Minute Pumpkin Spice S’mores Trifles Recipe

serves 2

Author: Nicole Branan/Adapted from My Baking Addiction

INGREDIENTS:

For the graham cracker layer:

  • 1/3 cup crumbled graham crackers
  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • pinch of salt

For the chocolate layer:

  • a drizzle of hazelnut spread, warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave

For the marshmallow cream layer:

  • marshmallow cream

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix all the graham cracker layer ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Layer graham crackers, hazelnut spread* and then marshmallow cream* into glasses (it’s easiest to pipe the marshmallow cream). Toast each layer of marshmallow cream with a torch.

 

RECIPE NOTES:

*Don’t use too much hazelnut spread and marshmallow cream, both are very sweet and can very quickly become overpowering. You want at least half of each spoonful of this dessert to be graham cracker crumble.

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Food Photography and Styling: To me, this dessert is all about starting the outdoors season and I thought plastic spoons would be very appropriate for that so that’s what I used. The surface is a new antique wooden board I found in an antique store this weekend and I thought it worked perfectly here. The blue provided great contrast to the brown chocolate and the rustic look added to the outdoorsy feel of the shot. As usual I used my strobe to light the set and made sure to have a lot of shadows and highlights in the scene to make it look like a sunny afternoon.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight.

Almond Orange Mousse with Anise

Why I love it: This gourmet dessert has a complex and sophisticated flavor but the recipe is very easy (foolproof really) and the preparation is quick (~20 minutes, plus about an hour of chilling).

Almond Orange Mousse with Anise Recipe

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

I got the idea for this flavor combination from a biscotti recipe I saw recently. While I am not a big fan of biscotti I did like the sound of almond, orange and anise together so I used them in this dessert. It’s a very creamy, light and fluffy mousse that is a perfect finish for a gourmet dinner. I built the mousse on an egg yolk and sugar base that I flavored with orange zest, almond extract and ground anise seeds. After that I folded in whipped cream and whipped egg whites and stiffened the whole thing with gelatin. It’s a dessert that tastes like a lot of work went into it but in reality it’s very easy to make and just about impossible to mess up. I suggest you eat it by taking a bite out of an orange slice, then follow up with a spoonful of mousse and repeat.

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Almond Orange Mousse with Anise Recipe

serves 6

by Nicole Branan

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise
  • orange slices
  • finely chopped almonds

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Whip the two egg whites to stiff peaks. Put in the fridge.
  2. Whip the cream with 1 teaspoon sugar to stiff peaks. Put in the fridge.
  3. Add gelatin along with 3 tablespoons of cold water to a saucepan. Let sit for about 4 minutes.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks with 1/3 cup sugar, orange zest, almond extract and anise in a bowl until creamy.
  5. Heat the bloomed gelatin just until dissolved.
  6. Whisk the gelatin into the egg yolk mix.
  7. Fold in the cream.
  8. Fold in the egg whites.
  9. Cover and chill in the fridge until set (about 1 hour).
  10. Scoop the cream onto individual plates and serve with orange slices and chopped almonds.

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Food Photography and Styling: I think of this dessert as very fancy so I wanted to create a modern, elegant look. The dish is my matte black candle holder and the surface is just a plain black poster board. Even though the spoon is antique I thought it worked here because of its elegant shape; I liked how its pointy tip mirrored the tip of the piece of orange slice. I “glued” the spoon in place with tacky wax, without it it kept falling over on its side. To follow the rule of thirds I made sure to place the spoon on the right vertical line that divides the frame into thirds.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.