Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin and Chocolate Pie in a Jar and Photography Lessons Learned

I was milling around the kitchen the other evening, having barely put away the last of the dinner dishes I started having intense cravings for something sweet.  The play-off game for the World Series was on and something about curling up on the couch for a few hours without a snack just didn't seem right.  Plus I think its bad luck for the team. Or at least that was a good enough reason for me to go throw something in the oven.

I had made a chocolate peanut butter chess pie for company the other day and while I liked parts of the pie, it was just too rich and not really my favorite thing I had ever made.  My mind went back to the Pumpkin Pie & Crumble Cakes I made a few weeks ago; I decided a recipe experiment was in order. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Chocolate Pie with a Bite:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a heat-proof bowl placed upon a pot of simmering water add the butter and chocolate, stir and let get completely melted.  Take off the heat.

To the chocolate add the sugar, vanilla, salt, eggs, and cayenne and whisk together until smooth.

Take eight clean 8-ounce heat-proof jelly jars and spray them with no-stick spray and place them on a baking sheet.

Divide the chocolate batter evenly amongst the jars.  They will be about 1/3 full each.  Set aside.

Pumpkin Pie
15 ounce can pumpkin puree
6 ounces evaporated milk
3/4 cup low-fat milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk, milk, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until combined.

Pour the pumpkin mixture evenly over the chocolate and bake for 35-45 minutes.  I waited till I saw the tops of the pumpkin were set and not still wet and wobbly, or use a toothpick and see if it comes out clean.  Let cool to room temperature.

After the pies cool, they will deflate a bit, leaving ample room for a little whip cream and leftover chocolate shavings.

Serves 8.

These pies must have been good luck after all, the San Francisco Giants won that night and went on to win the World Series.  Okay probably wasn't my pies, just their incredible teamwork, either way I like to think maybe I had some small part in it.

When I first started writing this blog 2 and 1/2 years ago the only thing I knew about photography was how to point my camera at the kids and tell them "say cheese".  My first photographs on here pointed that out in glaringly obvious fashion.  After a couple months I started noticing other bloggers and their photography styles.  One in particular was Nancy - Spicie Foodie.  I remember thinking to myself I hope I can photograph that well one day.  I kept reading her and was happy to learn she willingly shared her equipment and tips with all of us.  I eventually upgraded to a DSLR and well, took thousands of pictures.  Yet I still felt like there were some technical things I didn't have down and some things that I had read that still didn't make sense.

I knew Nancy was working on an e-book for food photography and knew I had to read it.  I'm glad I did, not only does she explain all the mysteries of lighting and go over camera angles and styling tips, she also does it with a multitude of photographs.  Just seeing some of her photos made things click for me.  I've learned over the years I'm a visual learner, seriously I could sit in a lecture and come out and not tell you one thing I've learned.  If you want to enhance your food photography skills, go check out Yummy Pics Food Photography for Bloggers. Hopefully Nancy will approve of these pie photos I shot the other day; I used a few of her suggestions.  I wrote this about Nancy because I was hoping it was the least I could do to thank her for all she has taught me.

Happy Halloween!



  1. Hi Gina - found your blog at Angie's and just had to visit! Lovely recipes and beautiful photos. I am bookmarking and will be back - so much to see!

  2. Hi GIna! Your pumpkin and chocolate pies in jars are the perfect dessert for this season and Nancy's e photo book rocks- I have to spend more time with it but what I've read so far has been very helpful;-) You've come along way baby ;-)

  3. Thanks Tricia. Thank you too Patty.

  4. Gorgeous dessert in a jar! This is such a pretty end to a meal - the colours are perfect for Halloween, but I'd eat these flavours any time of the year, Gina.

  5. Gina, these pumpkin pie in jars look divine. I love your sweet creations. Keep them coming!

  6. I could eat up all the jars my friend, this recipe looks and sounds like heaven :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. That's definitely bad luck for the team not to eat something sweet while watching! :) Will definitely check out that site. Thanks!

  8. Gina,
    I love the idea of pumpkin and chocolate co-mingling, Yum! The jars look so pretty, and I'm sure that the pie is amamzing. Will have to try these soon, but first I need more jars, I think! Have a great week.

  9. I find myself in your exact shoes 2 1/2 years ago as I'm in the process of learning how to take beautiful photos of food. So glad you shared the tip on Nancy's e-book. I will definitely check it out. And your pumpkin pie in a jar is making me crave something with pumpkin and chocolate right now! Good thing I have both sitting in my pantry waiting to be used...Happy Halloween!

  10. I'm loving the use of the jars!!! We saved one that we had from some honey someone gave us, and I find myself using it all the time. I think I'm going to have to invest in more.

    I know what you mean about the photos!! I've loved photography for some 30 years (goodness... I didn't think I was old enough to say that!), but I always did landscapes. Food photography is a whole new world! But I'm really coming to enjoy it. Love these pics, and the recipe is a keeper! Happy Halloween!

  11. Food always is so attractive you'd think it would be easy to take beautiful pictures of it, but it's not - it's actually quite a bit of work. For me, at least, there was definitely a pretty steep learning process. But learning to love these pumpkin and chocolate beauties would be no problem whatsoever! Really good stuff - thanks.

  12. I think your jars are very pretty! Plus, they're kinda Giant's colored, right?

    I have some serious food photography lessons to learn. Thanks for sharing some of your sources!

  13. Yum!!! Gina they remeing me of a giant Reese's peanut butter cup with whipped cream:) Congrats to the Giants.

    Your photos are gorgeous! Thank you for the mention and your king words. You're a great friend and I'm happy to have met you.

    Hugs and I hope you are doing well:)

  14. I'm pretty sure the Giants won because of these decadent pies!!! And I love Nancy's photo hints...and her e-book. I need all the help I can get! I've always been impressed by your photos :)

  15. OMG you are very very bad for my diet.

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