Feeling the need to eat chocolate!

I don’t know why but I can’t stop thinking about chocolate today, must be feeling the need to indulge I guess. Anyway, I decided to take a look back at some of the chocolate features I have done in the past and came across this rather romantic shoot with a kinda glam/vintage/gold look – a bit kitsch I suppose. Well to be honest, the food is the hero and I know they all tasted fantastic.

Whether you call them churros (Spain) doughnuts (UK) or beignets (France) this deep fried pastries are 100% delicious especially when drizzled with a rich chocolate sauce.

Cinnamon spiced churros with chocolate Grand Marnier sauce

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Serves: 6

250 ml water

120 g butter

180 g plain flour, twice sifted

pinch salt

3 medium eggs (size 3)

75 g caster sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

chocolate Grand Marnier sauce

125 g dark chocolate

100 ml single cream

2 tbsp Grand Marnier

vegetable oil for frying

Heat the water and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until the butter melts. Tip in the flour and salt and beat well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the pan edges (this will be almost immediate). Leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Using an electric whisk beat the eggs into the dough one at a time until smooth and slightly glossy. Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm star nozzle.

Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan to a depth of 7 cm until it reaches 170c/330f on a sugar thermometer (or until a small amount of the dough sizzles as soon as it is dropped into the oil). Carefully pipe approximately 15 cm lengths of the dough straight into the hot oil, using a knife to cut the dough off at the nozzle. Fry 3 at a time for 3 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through using metal tongs. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Keep warm in a moderate oven while cooking the rest.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon on a plate and roll the churros in the mixture until coated.

Meanwhile, heat the chocolate and cream together in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring, until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat Grand Marnier. Arrange the churros on a platter and serve with the chocolate sauce for dipping.

Chocolate pecan tartlets

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Serves: 6

pastry

200 g plain flour, sifted

1/2 tsp salt

100 g chilled butter, diced

50 g caster sugar

2 egg yolks

2-3 tbsp iced water

filling

100 g dark chocolate

20 g butter

80 g light soft brown sugar

2 medium eggs

100 ml golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla essence

200 g pecan halves

icing sugar, to dust

vanilla ice cream, to serve

Heat the oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6. Make the pastry. Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the middle and work in the egg yolks and enough water to just bring the dough together.

Gently work the dough into a ball, flatten to a disc and wrap in cling film. Chill the dough for 30 minutes. Divide the dough equally into 6 and roll each one out to an 18 cm disc. Press into 6 x 12 cm tartlet tins.

Prick the bases with a fork and chill for a further 20 minutes.

Line the pastry cases with baking paper and baking beans and bake blind for 12 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes or until pastry is crisp and lightly golden. Leave to go cold. Reduce oven temperature to 170c/325f/gas mark 3.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a small saucepan, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk the eggs, golden syrup and vanilla essence together until smooth and then stir in the chocolate mixture.

Place the pastry cases on a baking tray and divide the nuts between each one. Carefully pour in the filling. Bake the tartlets for 20 minutes or until just firm in the centre, remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Dust with icing sugar and serve with ice cream.

Triple layer chocolate and Tia Maria mousse

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Serves: 8-12

cake base

60 g dark chocolate

2 medium eggs, separated

55 g caster sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted

mousse

4 gelatine leaves (200 bloom)

50 ml Tia Maria

300 g dark chocolate

3 medium egg, separated

250 ml double cream

satin glaze

150 g dark chocolate

60 g unsalted butter

90 thickened cream

1 tbsp liquid glucose

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4 and oil and line the base of a 22 cm cake tin baking paper. Make the cake base. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set of a pan of just simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until melted. Cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the egg whites and sugar together for 3 minutes until thick and glossy and then stir in the egg yolks, cocoa powder and finally the melted chocolate until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Oil and line the base and sides of a deep 20 cm loose bottom cake tin. Press the cooled cake into the base of the tin so it fits as snuggly as possible. Set aside.

Make the mousse. Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl and cover with cold water, leave to soak for 5 minutes until the leaves soften. Squeeze the water from the gelatine and place in a small saucepan with the Tia Maria. Heat very gently, stirring until the gelatine is completely dissolved.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of just simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water) stirring until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes, then beat in the egg yolks and cream and stir in the gelatine mixture. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff and carefully fold through the chocolate mixture until evenly combined. Pour over the cake base and chill for 4 hours or until firm.

Make the glaze. Place the chocolate, butter, cream and liquid glucose in a small saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until smooth. Cool for 5 minutes and then very carefully pour over the top of the set mousse. Chill for a further 1 hour until set.

Carefully remove the mousse cake from the tin and peel away the paper. Decorate the top with your preferred decorations. To serve use a knife dipped into hot water to help cut smoothly through the three layers.

Divine chocolate cups with salted cocoa nib caramel shards

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Serves: 6

Cocoa nib are lightly crushed cocoa beans. They are readily available from larger supermarkets, health food stores or online.

250 ml double cream

1/2 vanilla pod

125 g dark chocolate

2 egg yolks

1 tbsp caster sugar

salted cocoa nib caramel shards

125 g caster sugar

3 tbsp water

2 tbsp cocoa nibs

1 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 140c/275f/gas mark 1 and place 6 x 100 ml cups or ramekin dishes in a baking tin. Place 175 ml of cream in a small saucepan and scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod. Heat gently until the cream just starts to simmer, but do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.

Melt the remaining cream and chocolate together in a bowl set over a pan of just simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) stirring until smooth. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together and stir in the chocolate cream and vanilla cream until combined.

Divide the mixture between the cups and pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the sides. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes until they are just firm in the middle. Cool and then refrigerate over night.

Make the caramel about 30 minutes before serving. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat very gently without stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes until the liquid turns a golden caramel colour.

Meanwhile, place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and have the cocoa nibs and sea salt to hand. As soon as the caramel is ready pour onto the prepared paper and allow it to form a thin pool. Immediately scatter over the coco nibs and sea salt and set aside to cool and set. Break the toffee into shards and serve a few shards on top of each chocolate cup.

Molten chocolate and dulce de leche puddings

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Serves: 4

100 g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

100g dark chocolate

2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla essence

125 g caster sugar

100 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

4 tsp salted caramel sauce

cocoa powder, to dust

double cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Line the bases and brush the insides of 4 x 150 ml metal dariole molds with melted butter and chill for 10 minutes. Arrange the molds on a baking tin.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan, stirring until melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Beat the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla essence and sugar in a bowl, using an electric whisk, for 3-4 minutes until thick and fluffy. Sift over the flour and carefully fold in along with the chocolate mixture until smooth.

Spoon half the mix into the prepared molds, add 1 teaspoon of salted caramel sauce to the middle of each one and cover with the remaining chocolate mixture to about 5 mm from the top. Bake for 15 minutes until the tops are set and slightly cracked. Remove from the oven but let cool in the tins for 5 minutes.

Invert the puddings onto serving plates tapping the bases lightly if necessary. Remove the paper from the bases. Dust with cocoa powder and serve immediately with cream.


 

 

 

Upcoming food styling & photography workshop

“Come and join us in the beautiful French countryside for 6 days of cooking, styling, photography, eating, drinking and making friends. If it sounds perfect, well that’s because it is!”

custom-Custom_Size___Food Photography and Styling Workshop C

For anyone with a passion for food, food styling or food photography, this 6 day course is a perfect way to improve your skills as I join up with acclaimed food and lifestyle photographer Ian Wallace. This amazing course will take place in the stunning workshop accommodation venue Les Soeurs Anglaises in the Dordogne.

In June this year, Ian and I will be sharing all the knowledge we have gained from our years of experience working in food publishing. The course will include demonstrations, discussions and practical hands-on classes over the 6 days and covers all the skills needed to produce your own beautiful food images. Alongside the daily classes, all meals will be provided accompanied by wines from the region. There will also be a visit to local brocantes to source vintage props and time off to explore the local area, stunning villages and food markets.

“This is a totally immersive course for lovers of good food, budding food bloggers, food stylists and photographers, set in a truly beautiful setting with a relaxed ambience and wonderful food and wine”

Our workshops are the perfect platform for small business owners who want to improve the quality of their images for both website use and social media content. It can help chef’s looking to market themselves and their food. Food bloggers who want to improve their food styling and photographic skills. Even food stylist looking to get involved in the food publishing industry. Lovers of good food and wine with a penchant for France and all it’s charm.


What’s on offer 

We have access to really beautiful settings where we can shoot on location
We will learn how to prepare and cook food, style it and plate it for a perfect food shot.
You can only take a beautiful still life image of an ingredient if you can source them in the first place. We shop at local food markets or help ourselves to home grown veggies.

The Venue

The course is hosted Katie Elliot Armitage co/owner of the fabulous workshop accommodation venue Les Soeurs Anglaises in the Dordogne in South West France. Katie has been running workshops here for over 10 years and after many successful textile and music workshops Katie is looking to offer more food and wine based courses. Set on the outskirts of a pretty French town, the venue nestles in beautiful gardens, surrounded by rolling hills and fields full of sunflowers, cereals and sweetcorn. The stunning workshop is in a converted barn with cathedral ceilings and a vast wall of glass that opens up to invite the outdoors in. The atmosphere is one of calm seclusion, a perfect environment for learning, relaxing, entertaining and eating.

 

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A hint at what lies beyond the two huge workshop doors – this is a truly beautiful environment in which to work – it will inspire you.

 

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And then of course, after all the hard work is done, there will be plenty of time to kick back and enjoy the pool and other recreational area of the property.

 


Itinerary

Each workshop is bespoke. We like to look at what is going on at the time in the local area so we can take you out to photograph a market, producers or festivals depending on what is happening. We can also use the extensive grounds or the workshop at our accommodation. That said, all courses include the following criteria in order to ensure you get the maximum information in order to create your own stunning images.

 

custom-Custom_Size___Food photography and Styling Workshop A

Ian going through some of the basics of setting up a food shot
Getting to grips with your DSLR camera and look at composition
Sourcing props at home…… and at the local brocante
How to prepare and cook food for photography

Shooting light and dark and how it affects food

 


What is included

Six days/seven nights in one of the beautiful ensuite rooms at Les Souers Anglaises

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Double ensuite bedroom

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Twin ensuite bedroom

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One of the two lovely pools

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Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided. Breakfast by the pool with locally sourced pastries, fresh juices. A light salad lunch and a three course dinner with wines form the region.


Tuition

As well as the above, all your tuition costs with internationally acclaimed food photographer Ian Wallace and food writer, stylist and cook book author Louise Pickford.

There will be hands on practical shoots, outdoors when possible with all the food and props provided.

At the end of the stay you will receive a handout package including a copy of all the images and all the recipes.


Dates 

 

The course runs from June 6th – June 11th

 


Prices

A: Luxury double bedroom en suite (single occupancy) : £2450

B: Luxury double bedroom en suite (shared occupancy)£1950

C: Standard twin bedroom with shared bathroom (single occupancy)£2100 

D: Standard twin bedroom with shared bathroom (shared occupancy)£1550

For the Food Styling & Photography Workshop we require a £400 non-refundable deposit to secure a booking, the full balance being payable two months prior to the start of the workshop.

Flights are not included but we can arrange to collect you from Bordeaux or Bergerac airports or from the train station at Angouleme, this has a direct high speed train link from Paris.

 


Your tutors

Louise Pickford has been writing about and styling food for over 25 years in both London and Sydney, where she was involved in recipe writing and development, styling the props as well as the food for shoots. She became  food editor on several glossy magazine as well as styling a host of books for Bauer Media’s Woman’s Weekly titles. Recently Louise and Ian relocated to SW France where they continue to work together for clients around the world including Delicious Magazine Australia, the UK and Holland, Food & Travel Magazine, Grazia UK and The Mail on Sunday. She has written more than 30 cookery books to date, including over a dozen for bespoke publishers Ryland, Peters & Small.

Ian Wallace has built a very successful career working in both London and Sydney for clients that included all the main book publishers, and top food  magazine titles and Sunday newspaper supplements, shooting a mixture of editorial, packaging and advertising, clients including Marks and Spencer, Vogue Entertaining and Travel, Delicious Magazine Australia and UK, Gourmet Traveller, The Mail on Sunday and Food and Travel Magazine as well as photographing many book titles for Bauer Media and News Life Media and Ryland Peters and small.

 

BOOK SOON TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT

For more information about the accommodation, course or to book please go to Les Soeurs Anglaises