Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Espresso Milkshake with Coffee Liqueur

pumpkin spice chocolate espresso milkshake coffee liqueur dark food photography

Why I love it: This drink has all my favorite dessert flavors packed into one jar: vanilla, chocolate, pumpkin spice, espresso and coffee liqueur. It’s easy to make and quite refreshing on a warm summer day.

Happy milkshake season! Nothing better than sitting outside after (or before) dinner and sip a cool, refreshing milkshake on a warm summer day, is there? Personally, I love a drink that surprises me with something different in every sip, which is why I only blended ice cream and milk together here but added all remaining components separately.

It’s a French vanilla ice cream mix that is layered with pumpkin spice chocolate ganache, a fresh shot of espresso and a shot (or more) of coffee liqueur. When you take a sip (or spoonful) you may get vanilla or espresso or chocolate or a pocket of liqueur, it’s a surprise every time. The pumpkin spice flavor (a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, ginger and mace) is subtle but gives the shake a nice complexity.

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Food Photography and Styling: I went back to my tried and trusted bright food, dark shadows lighting setup for a dark and dramatic look in this photo and I think that worked well for the drink. To imply action I stuck a straw in the drink (it’s a paper straw I bought from Jo-Ann some time ago) and to tell the reader that there is pumpkin spice in the shake I put some of the individual spices in the composition as well. I tried to add props in the background (like a milk bottle) but they just distracted from the drink and I ended up liking the shot best without them.

Camera Settings: Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

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Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Espresso Milkshake with Coffee Liqueur Recipe

serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 10 ounces French vanilla ice cream
  • pumpkin spice ganache (the recipe is here)
  • 2 shots of espresso
  • 2 shots of coffee liqueur (I used Kapali)
  • whipped cream (optional)
  • cocoa powder

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add milk and ice cream to a blender (or food processor if you don’t have a blender) and blend.
  2. Layer ice cream/milk, ganache, espresso and liqueur into two 8-ounce glasses.
  3. Top with whipped cream, if using.
  4. Dust with cocoa powder.
  5. Serve immediately.
This entry was posted in Drinks.

Bee’s Knees Cocktail

bees knees cocktail

Why I love it: This cocktail tastes phenomenal and is just a simple mix of only three ingredients that (I’m guessing) most of us always have in the house: gin, lemon and honey.

Meet my new favorite gin cocktail, the Bee’s Knees. I was introduced to it during a fun distillery tour we went on a few weeks ago. (At the Dancing Pines Distillery in Loveland, CO. It’s a wonderful place, if you ever get the chance I highly recommend you visit).

We love to go on distillery tours, it’s always so inspiring to see and feel the love and passion that goes into these operations. And, of course, it’s equally fun to taste the product. After the tour we sat outside in the sun and enjoyed a Bee’s Knees cocktail and loved it. It’s a mix of gin, fresh lemon juice and honey that tastes sweet, sour, ginny and incredibly fresh, intense, pure and natural. Nothing against gin and tonics, I certainly like them too, but lemon juice and honey have a definite edge over the taste of quinine.

So where is the spice in this recipe, you ask? Well, there isn’t any (unless you count the botanicals that went into the gin). Normally that would rule it out for The Spice Train but I think this drink is so awesome that I felt compelled to share it with you here. :) 

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Food Photography and Styling: This is a very simple cocktail and to reflect that I kept the photo very simple as well. I lit the drink from the back to get a reflection on the surface that made it look shiny, alive and inviting. (As always, I used my strobe to light the set). I needed something to focus my lens on and the lemon twist was the perfect (and really only) candidate for that but I had to meddle with it. I put a fake acrylic ice cube in the glass to prop up the lemon twist so that it would poke through the surface. Now that you know that you can probably see the cube, can you?

I put the gin bottle in the back for two reasons: 1) to give the photo a bit more atmosphere and 2) to imply that there is a lot of alcohol in this drink. (Not quite as much as is in the bottle but quite a bit).

The piece of fabric underneath the glass is one of those 99–cent pieces from Jo-Ann that I cut into a little square. It gave the drink a little more class than a paper napkin or the naked table surface would have done. (Plus, I didn’t have a paper napkin on hand). 

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

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little heart

Bee’s Knees Cocktail Recipe

 
serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 6 tablespoons ice-cold gin (I keep the bottle in the freezer)
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • lemon twists as garnish

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine all ingredients and let them sit for 10 minutes to start letting the honey dissolve.
  2. Stir to get all the honey dissolved.
  3. Divide between two glasses and serve with lemon twists.
This entry was posted in Drinks.

Chai Latte Dry Spice Mix

chai latte drink dark food photography
dry chai spice mix dark food photography

Why I love it: This chai latte dry spice mix takes only a few minutes to make and doesn’t require any grinding of spices. Because all ingredients are dried the mix can be kept in a jar in the cabinet and is ready for use with a simple tea strainer anytime.

I love a good chai latte. In fact, I never even sit down at my desk in the morning any more without one in my hand; the drink gives me comfort and makes me feel ready to face the day. In case you’re not familiar with it, what we call chai latte here in the U.S. is a hot, slightly sweet drink that consists of milk and black tea flavored with a combination of spices (I use cardamom, clove, black peppercorns, ginger and cinnamon).

It’s very simple to make fresh at home and there are actually a number of different ways to do it. You can make an “instant” version – a powder of ground spices, dried milk and sugar that you stir into hot water or milk. Alternatively you can make a chai concentrate by infusing brewed tea with your mix of spices and keep that in the fridge until you’re ready to use it and then just heat it with milk.

What I do is this: I buy all my chai spices dried (but not powdered), add loose black tea to them and keep that mix in a jar in the cabinet. It keeps for a long time and when I’m ready for a chai latte I steam milk and submerge the spice/tea mix in a tea strainer in it. (If you don’t have a steamer you can certainly heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove top but I personally like the taste of steamed milk in this drink). To sweeten I use honey, it complements the warm flavors wonderfully.

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Food Photography and Styling: While delicious, this drink is a bit on the boring side as far as looks go. Its only interesting feature is the foam surface and to make that surface look nice and sparkly I lit the drink from the back. I didn’t hold my steam wand perfectly in the milk as I steamed it and that’s how I ended up with these huge bubbles you can see. But the thing is, I thought they added character so I was actually quite happy with them (even though I know a professional barista would probably scoff at them). Since the drink is brownish in color I picked a dark blue surface and dish for contrast and since the recipe is not just for the drink but also for the spice/tea mix I photographed it separately in a tea strainer to properly show the reader what it looks like.

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little heart

Chai Latte Dry Spice Mix Recipe

 
INGREDIENTS:

  • 20 whole green cardamom pods
  • 14 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1.5 tablespoons dried cracked ginger
  • 1.5 tablespoons cinnamon chips
  • 2 tablespoons loose black tea*

 
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add all spices to a mortar and crush very lightly with a pestle.
  2. Mix the crushed spices with the tea.
  3. Store the mix in an airtight container.
  4. To make a chai latte, add about 1 tablespoon of the mix to a tea strainer, then steam** 6 ounces of milk, drop the tea strainer into it and let it steep.
  5. Sweeten to taste with honey.

 

RECIPE NOTES:

*Use high-grade tea that doesn’t contain any tea dust. I like to use Lipton Yellow Label Orange Pekoe Loose Tea.

**You can also just heat the milk on the stove top or in the microwave.

This entry was posted in Drinks.