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. 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

If you look through my blog archives you can see how my photography has progressed - and improved... ? - over the years. I used to try to set up these elaborate displays to "complete" my photos and make them look more lively and exciting but over time I realized this style - while beautiful when others do it - simply isn't for me. I am all about keeping things as simple as possible. I have learned I truly prefer leaving my food photography set ups as basic as I can. Now most of my photos are just a plate or bowl of food with maybe one set of cutlery and a cloth underneath (see: the photos in this post). Not only is this easier to set up and tear down, it's truer to how I interact with my recipes: it's usually juuuust me, my camera, my table and the food.

I am sent a lot of cookbooks every year and they are all gorgeous. But sometimes there is one that 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. 

XO, em

[ makes 9 huge bars, 9-18 servings // adapted from a recipe in Vegan Cuisine ]

Chocolate layer:
1/3 cup cacao butter
Scant 1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup

Mint layer:
1 3/4 cups shredded coconut 
Scant 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 drops peppermint essential oil 

Chocolate layer: melt 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 fridge. Set aside the remaining half to use in a moment.

Mint layer: blend everything until smooth. Spread evenly over your chocolate layer in the pan, then finish by spreading remaining chocolate on top. Leave in fridge for 2 hours or overnight. Cut! If they stick around longer than a day and you keep them refrigerated overnight: let them sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes so they soften.