On a plane en route to Albuquerque, final destination Santa Fe, I devoured a book by one of my food writer gurus, Ruth Reichl. Her latest book, Save me the Plums, was just released and is a memoir of her life as editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine, my favorite food magazine – ever.
I have read all her books, and the admirer I am, couldn’t wait to hear all about her insider’s view on the world of publishing. A recipe she included in the book called Jeweled Chocolate Cake caught my eye and I couldn’t stop thinking about making it upon my return home.
So, what was I up to this time in Santa Fe, my favorite destination? A friend told me about a food photography workshop at a retreat center, Santa Fe Workshops, nestled in the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Photography is one of my loves but capturing food always alludes me – the lighting, composition, and how to edit the photos without just pushing the “boost” icon in iPhoto. My photography life was about to change.
The workshop taught by food photographer, Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean, awakened my brain and revitalized and artistic side I thought was fading.
Tracy is a talented photographer, artist and exceptional teacher. Her patience and easy-going spirit propelled the five of us into a new world of visual possibilities. After four intensive days of shooting food in the retreat basement, the Santa Fe Plaza, and in bars and restaurants, I felt like I had been revitalized and was ready to utilize my new-found skills. By the way, the other four women in the workshop humbled and inspired me with their unique talents and diverse careers. I learned a lot from them.
Back to the cake. The pastry chef in me erupted like Mt. Etna. As soon as I returned home, I began my photography experimentation beginning with baking Ruth’s Jeweled Chocolate Cake and composing photos to highlight its exquisiteness. The dark velvety cake has a whisper of mascarpone topping and then a tumble of crunchy, glistening praline. I finished photographing it around 6 p.m. and couldn’t resist having a slice before dinner. A trio of flavors collaborated on my tongue. Soft, dense and tender chocolate, creamy, tangy frosting, and an accent mark of crunchy, sugar nut sparkles. One bite and the marriage was consummated. It kept tempting me back. And, I am not really a cake person so this one is a serious keeper! Thank you Ruth for the decadent recipe and another great read.
I am discovering once again that baking is my groove. And now, showcasing the photos that highlight my sweet creations gives me gratitude for this life-long passion. Thank you Tracy! You are a gifted teacher and I will continue the journey….
Get the recipe for Jeweled Chocolate Cake and watch an interview with Ms. Reichl at:
“…it was so rich and exotic I was seduced into taking one bite and then another as I tried to chase the flavors back to their source.”
― Ruth Reichl
Ciao for now,