I am an absolute sucker for some minimalist, moody, naturally-lit food photography. Some of my first sources of inspiration were from Matthew Kenney's cookbooks. I have always loved the Laura Wright's work at The First Mess (how she plays with lighting and shadows is rad af). In the past few years I've fallen head over heels with Call Me Cupcake, A Brown Table and Local Milk. My current fave food photography comes from Berlin-based Laura and Nora at Our Food Stories.
I am sent a lot of cookbooks every year and they are all gorgeous. But sometimes there is one that inarguably rises above the rest with breath-taking photography and a cavalcade of enticing, elegant and creative recipes. Right now, that book is Vegan Cuisine. It's a massive book, really a coffee table book more than anything, and it has made my week. I think something about a giant hardcover encyclopedia of beautifully photographed vegan food hits a special place in my heart. The photos are by Joerg Lehmann and the recipes are from Jean-Christian Jury. It has over 800 inventive, sophisticated vegan recipes and page after page of huge, vibrantly coloured yet preciously stylish, sleek food photos. I am intrigued by how Joerg plays with texture, shapes and depth.
Something about the recipe for "Mint Chocolate Cake" on page 337 was calling my name - probably because it has a whack load of cocoa and my period started Saturday morning - so I whipped up my own version the same day I received the book in the mail. They taste like After Eights. Yum.
CHOCOLATE MINT SLICE
[ makes 9 huge bars, 9-18 servings // adapted from a recipe in Vegan Cuisine ]
1/4 cup cacao butter
Scant 1/4 cup coconut oil
1 1/4 cups cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 3/4 cups shredded coconut
Scant 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2-4 drops peppermint essential oil
To make the chocolate layer: melt the coconut oil and cacao butter in a thick pot on low heat, then whisk in the rest of the ingredients until you have a lusciously smooth chocolate mixture. Spread half this mixture evenly into the bottom of a lined pan and put in the fridge. Set aside the remaining half to use in a moment.
To make the mint layer: blend everything until smooth. Spread evenly over your chocolate layer in the pan, then finish by spreading the remaining chocolate over this. Leave in the fridge for at least a few hours and slice. If they stick around longer than a day and you keep them refrigerated overnight: I'd recommend letting them sit at room temperature for around 10-15 minutes before eating so they soften.