Thyme Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Salt

Chocolate Thyme Cake by V.K.Rees

I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with three interns over the past month. One of them, Demetria, has created a ridiculously decedant and delicious chocolate cake with thyme and blackberry salt.

This photo would not have been possible without the hand lettering talent of Victoria Bellavia, the painstaking chocolate chip styling of Caroline Newton, and the retouching assistance of intern Joey Diaz.

Take it away Demetria!

Chocolate Thyme, Chocolate Time
Thyme Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Sea Salt – - a cake by Demetria at Engrained Baking

When Vanessa asked if I would be willing to make a cake for her blog, my first thought was: umm, yes – create a delicious cake recipe and then help take beautiful photos of it – dream job!  So, I took out my favorite vegan chocolate cake recipe and began dreaming up what flavor combinations would fit just right together – one of my favorite ways to use my time.  I love combining chocolate with herbs, and honestly, being a mountain girl at heart, I really love adding herbs, teas, weird spices or even tree bark to pretty much everything.  So, I thought of the combination: chocolate, thyme, and blackberry, with a bit of sea salt and something clicked – that’s it.  A delicious combination of woodland thyme and blackberry with rich dark chocolate, and then, I mean, salty and sweet is always, good always,  right?  There are various ways to add an herb’s flavoring into a cake, but I opted to soak each layer in a bit of thyme simple syrup.  It gives just the sweet, subtle hint of thyme at the end of each decadent chocolate bite.  Then it’s all finished off with that perfect sweet, salty combination with homemade blackberry sea salt.

Thyme Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Sauce

This photo shoot was so much fun too.  It’s one of the first times that my messiness in the kitchen has ever worked to my advantage.  Vanessa took my strewn about bowls, ladles, and kitchen tools and turned it into art.  It’s such an amazing opportunity to be able to work with her and watch the process as it happens everyday.  Thanks again Vanessa! xoxo

Vegan Chocolate Cake:

3 ¾ cups spelt flour   ( 380 grams )
1 ½ cup granulated sugar   ( 285 grams )
⅔ cup cocoa powder   ( 75 grams )
2 cups apple juice  ( 455 grams )
1 cup canola oil  (210 grams  )
1 tsp b. powder
1 ½ tsp.  b. soda
1 pinch salt

Vegan Chocolate Ganache:
2 ¾ cups vegan chocolate chips         500 grams chocolate chips
2 cups soy milk            500 grams soy milk

Thyme Simple Syrup:

1 large bunch of thyme (about 3 ounces)
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

Blackberry salt:
5-8 blackberries
⅓ cup sea salt

For the Cake:

I.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease three 8” pans and line the base with parchment paper.

II.  Except for the salt, sift together all of the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl.  Mix together.

III.  Combine the oil, juice, and salt and whisk until the mixture is thoroughly emulsified.  Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

  IV.  Pour batter into the prepared cake tins until each tin is half full.  Bake for 30 -35 minutes, or until a cake tester  inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  The cake should also spring back when lightly pressed.  Place tins on wire rack and let cool.

For the Chocolate Ganache:

 First pour your chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl.   Heat the soy milk over medium low heat and stir continuously.  The milk is considered done with small bubbles have formed around the pan, but the milk has not started boiling.  Pour the milk into the bowl of chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute, allowing the chocolate chips to melt.  Then take a whisk and whisk until the ganache is smooth and fully incorporated. Leave out to cool and set or place in freezer to speed up the process, if it does not have enough time to set it will end up acting more as a glaze.

For the Thyme Simple Syrup:

Combine sugar, water and thyme in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then let simmer for 15 -20 minutes to steep the thyme.

For the Blackberry Salt:

    Place the blackberries in a bowl and mash them with a fork, spreading the juice from the blackberries around the bowl. Take the blackberry mush out of the bowl, leaving only the juice.  Pour the salt into the bowl and stir around until the salt is completely coated.

To assemble:

  Place the 1st layer of cake on an 8” cardboard circle, and then on top of a cake stand.  Trim the top off with a serrated knife so that you have a flat layer.  Take a brush and  dip it in your thyme simple syrup.  Lightly dab the thyme simple syrup on the top of the layer until you’ve covered it.  This will moisten your cake as well as getting in that delicious thyme flavor.  Allow it to soak into the cake and then spread your vegan chocolate ganache over the layer.  Gently press your second layer over the first and repeat this process until you’ve placed your 3rd layer and soaked it with your thyme simple syrup.  Ice the cake with the remaining chocolate ganache.

  If you’d like the chocolate chip detailing , pour some mini chocolate chips into a bowl.  Pick up your cake from the cardboard, making sure that the cardboard is not bigger than the cake.  Then scoop up the chocolate chips and cup them in your hand, lightly pressing them to the side of the cake, rotating the cake as you coat each area.
Then you can sprinkle your blackberry salt on top of the cake and decorate however you’d like!

For more recipes look over here: at Engrained!

:: edible type :: | Inspiration blog :: Web One - […] have proven thyme and thyme again (sorry this image was created to introduce a recipe for a Thyme Chocolate Cake) to be some of the most visually effective forms of the art. I know it makes me want to get my […]

Alison Dulaney - Brilliant Vanessa! I have missed your posts!

Evelyn Theus - This cake looks delicious. And the text is just perfect with the cake. :-)

Cards & Interns!

Wow, the holidays really sneak up on ya, huh? If anyone is interested, I’m selling some holiday cards on etsy! This is the last week to order if you want to receive them in time to send out for Christmas.

White Winter Holiday Cards by V.K.Rees

White Winter Holiday Cards by V.K.Rees

White Winter Holiday Cards by V.K.Rees

Winter Cabin Holiday Cards by V.K.Rees

Winter Cabin Holiday Cards by V.K.ReesWinter Cabin Holiday Cards by V.K.ReesWinter Cabin Holiday Cards by V.K.Rees

Also, I’m currently looking for 2 NYC based interns starting January 2014! Ideally this person would be able to commit to 3 months, 10-15 hours per week. The schedule would be flexible and changes weekly depending on the intern’s schedule and my photo shoot schedule.

Tasks include: overall assistance on photo shoots, handling props and photo equipment, organization of information regarding photo shoots and/or clients, creating mood/inspiration boards, assisting with prop styling, minor editing of photos via photoshop, and general office clerical duties. This intern should be enthusiastic, flexible, and interested in photography. To apply please send your resume to vanessa[@]vkreesphotography.com.

The internship is unpaid but includes meals on photo shoot days and can be worked for towards school credit.  I encourage you to have a part time job and am happy to work around your schedule. Personal laptop is needed.

Looking forward to working with you!

Destination..Home - Dear Vanessa,

I just wanted to let you know that you inspired me through your work. One of the reasons I started blogging was because of your photographs. The lighting, the settings, the angles, it is all looking so good.

I will continue to follow your work to learn and get inspired!

Keith Bachand - Your work is great!

Linda - Your work is so beautiful. Someone will be very lucky to work with you and learn some of the tricks of the trade.

Layla @ Brunch Time Baker - These cards are beautiful!

Allison - I always think it when I visit your site, but I should share my thoughts with you and the rest of your readers: you are so damn talented! Gorgeous, gorgeous photos, and I love them as holiday cards. Brilliant! I wish I knew about photography (and didn’t already have grad school eating up 98% of my waking hours); I’d volunteer as an intern in a heartbeat!

Aubrie LeGault - Clever! I did holiday cards for my clients (family photo sessions) but the food photography for holiday cards is genius. Your cards are gorgeous.

Alison Dulaney - These are so pretty Vanessa!!

Kimberly - Please relocate to Atlanta so that I can assist you! ;-) Your work is beautiful!

Evelyn Theus - That’s are very beautiful cards.
I really like the white one. It’s stunning.
Greetings
Evelyn

Happy Halloween

Last week I got to spend a glorious day taking Halloween themed photos with two of my favorite ladies, prop stylist Kelly Shea and food stylist Lauren LaPenna.

Usually Halloween food photos cause me to lose my appetite. I don’t like imagining ketchup is blood, fries are fingers, or meatballs are eyeballs. Gross. So, if gory food isn’t your jam, here are some Halloween photos that are tame in the creepy department and won’t make you nauseous. Hopefully.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween by Vanessa Rees, Prop Styling by Kelly Shea, Food Styling by Lauren LaPenna

Halloween by Vanessa Rees, Prop Styling by Kelly Shea, Food Styling by Lauren LaPenna

Halloween by Vanessa Rees, Prop Styling by Kelly Shea, Food Styling by Lauren LaPenna

Halloween by Vanessa Rees

Halloween by Vanessa Rees, Food Styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop Styling by Kelly Shea

Halloween by Vanessa Rees, Food Styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop Styling by Kelly Shea

Halloween by Vanessa Rees, Food Styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop Styling by Kelly Shea

Halloween by Vanessa Rees, Food Styling by Lauren LaPenna, Prop Styling by Kelly Shea

 

 

Fructe uscate - Love this pictures!

Carla @ Gluten Free Recipe Box - Absolutely stunning photography! I find the bowls with black worms (or whatever they are) to be very realistic and creepy. However, I would much rather view these photos than as you say, “ketchup for blood.”

I just love your photos!

Shari - Simply Shari's - Amazing photography! You could cause me to try any food with beautiful photos like that!

Stephanie @ Everyday Feasts - These photos are stunning! So clever and elegant and original! Thank you for sharing :)

What We’re Reading | nostrovia! - […] in case you’re still picking your way through the last of the leftover Halloween candy, a hauntingly elegant photo shoot to accompany your […]

What We’re Reading – Nov 15, 2013 | Chef Deborah Reid - […] in case you’re still picking your way through the last of the leftover Halloween candy, a hauntingly elegant photo shoot to accompany your […]

merilyn - absolutely stunning photography … very creative, dynamic and dramatic … thankyou for sharing your talent … cheers m :)

Anna@CrunchyCreamySweet - Gorgeous. Love the mood!

shellsten | Piecefully - I love the dark in these pictures. Just found my way to you blog and it’s nothing less than amazing. All of it.

shellsten | Piecefully - I love the dark in there pictures. Just found my way to you blog and it’s nothing less than amazing. All of it.

The Peace Patch - Gothically stunning!I just did a purple potato post and they do make for fabulously dramatic photos but yours contrasted with black are the best! Cheers and Happy Halloween! :)

Hallowinks | - […] scariest and most enticing all the same time Halloween […]

ashley sullivan - loving these dark and moody shots! i’m curious to know what the lighting situation was here…

Ryan Shea - Very dramatic. Well done.

What's inspiring me today | Jayme DesignsJayme Designs - […] Fall Food // Wind-blown Girl  // White Rustic Office // […]

Rocio - Loved these pictures… very inspiring! Thank you and Happy Halloween! x

Jade Sheldon-Burnsed - The three of you are definitely doing Halloween right. So, so striking!

phi @PrincessTofu - You didn’t need me to tell you this is awesome… so have a great Halloween and thanks for sharing your awesome work! I didn’t get nauseated at all. :)

Alison Dulaney - Beautiful Vanessa! You gals did a wonderful job and I agree with you ketchup as blood grosses me out!