Welcome to Noel Barnhurst's blog. Noel is a food photographer based in the South Park neighborhood of San Francisco, California. He has photographed for a wide range of clients including Williams-Sonoma, Kashi, Haagen Dazs, Driscoll's berries, Sunset Magazine, and Burger King. Here you will find a plethora of recipes, tips, and news from a professional food photographer. Enjoy!

All photography is exclusively done by Noel Barnhurst.

Happy 102nd Birthday, Oreos!

image

Happy 102nd Birthday to the Oreo! Last year, Huffington Post and Times posted facts about the cookie in celebration of it’s birthday. Here is a summary of the facts:

  • The Oreo is the best-selling cookie in the world.
  • It takes 59 minutes to make an Oreo.
  • Oreos made the list of “accidentally vegan” foods on PETA.

Read the rest of the facts here.

If you feel like celebrating by baking up a storm, try this Chocolate Mousse Cake from Nordstrom’s Family Table Cookbook!


INGREDIENTS

Chocolate Crust

  • 4 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 20 oreos

Filling

  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate (no more that 62 percent cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Topping

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (no more that 62 percent cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10 by 3 inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and brush the paper with a little of the melted butter for the crust.
  2. Put the cookies in a 1 gallon lock-top plastic bag and, using a rolling pin, smash them to make coarse crumbs. Working in batches, transfer the coarse crumbs to a food processor and pulse to reduce to fine crumbs. You should have about 2 cups.
  3. To make the chocolate crust, mix the cookie crumbs and remaining melted butter together in a medium bowl until combined. Press firmly and evenly into the bottom (but not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, or until set. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. To make the filling, put the chocolate in a heatproof large bowl. Pour in the hot coffee and let stand for a few minutes to soften the chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Let stand, occasionally whisking the mixture, until it is tepid but still fluid, about 30 minutes.
  5. Whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla together in a chilled large bowl with an electric mixer set on high speed until the cream just forms stiff peaks. Do not over beat. Stir about one-fourth of the whipped cream into the tepid chocolate mixture. Add the remaining whipped cream and fold it in. Pour into the springform pan and smooth the top. The pan will be springform pan and smooth the top. The pan will be very full, with about 1/4 inch clearance from the top. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. refrigerate until the filling is set, about 2 hours. 

Mixed Berry Cheesecake

image

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 3 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 60 cookies)
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling and Topping

  • 1 cup Driscoll’s Blackberries, divided
  • 1 cup Driscoll’s Raspberries, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Mint leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl. Press into and up sides of 9-inch non-stick springform pan (if pan is not nonstick, brush first with melted butter). Bake about 14 minutes or until firm. Let cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Filling

  1. Purée 1/2 cup blackberries in a blender or food processor and strain. Discard seeds. You should have 2 to 3 tablespoons purée. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside until ready to use. Purée 1/2 cup raspberries in a blender or food processor and strain. Discard seeds. You should have 2 to 3 tablespoons purée. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside until ready to use.

  2. Mix cream cheese and remaining 1 cup sugar in bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, on low speed. Add sour cream and mix until blended. Spoon half batter into cooled crust.
Drop half blackberry purée mixture and half raspberry purée into batter, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Swirl into filling using a toothpick or wooden skewer. Repeat with remaining batter and purées.

  3. Bake about 1 hour or until edges are just set and center jiggles slightly. Turn oven off and prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon. Let cool in oven for 1 hour.
  4. Remove from oven and cool completely. Place in refrigerator and chill until cold throughout, 4 to 6 hours or overnight.
To serve, make a pile of remaining blackberries and raspberries on top of cheesecake and garnish with mint leaves.

Granita for Valentine’s Day

image

Although there are many different types of frozen Italian desserts (gelatos, italian ices, and cornettos), we are big fans of granita. This dessert is made by chilling and repeatedly freezing and scraping the ice until a snow-like texture is achieved. The texture is so unique that apparently it can differ from city to city in Italy. Try this Passionfruit Granita recipe to impress your significant other after a home cooked meal! It’s the perfect refreshing finish to any meal!

PASSIONFRUIT GRANITA

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch chunks fresh ripe pineapple
  • 4 cups chilled passionfruit nectar or juice
  • 2 passion fruit

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then cool syrup.
  2. In a blender or food processor, purée pineapple with 1/4 cup sugar syrup.  Stir in nectar or juice.  Chill pineapple mixture completely.
  3. Transfer pineapple mixture to a shallow metal baking pan and freeze, stirring and crushing lumps with a fork every hour, until mixture is firm but not frozen hard, about 3 to 4 hours. Granita may be made 2 days ahead and frozen, covered. Just before serving, scrape granita with a fork to lighten texture.
  4. Garnish with seeds from passion fruit.

image

Cantaloupe Granita

Seasonal Desserts: Thanksgiving

image

INGREDIENTS

Ice cream

  • 1 packet pumpkin ice cream starter
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Tart dough

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbs. very cold water, plus more as needed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water

Whipped cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Using the pumpkin ice cream starter, half-and-half and cream, prepare the ice cream according to the package instructions. Place the ice cream in the freezer.
  2. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F. In a small bowl, stir together the egg yolks, the 2 Tbs. water and the vanilla; set aside.

  3. 
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the egg yolk mixture and pulse until the dough just comes together. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 Tbs. at a time, pulsing a few times after each addition.
  4. Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide into 2 balls. Flatten 1 ball into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour. Press the other ball of dough firmly and evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake the crust for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the parchment and weights and continue baking until the crust is golden, 16 to 18 minutes more. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the chilled dough disk about 3/16 inch thick and make decorative cutouts according to the package instructions for the fall piecrust cutters. Transfer the cutouts to a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with the egg mixture. Bake until golden, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack and let the cutouts cool completely.
  6. When the crust is completely cool, remove the ice cream from the freezer and let stand at room temperature until softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the ice cream to the crust and spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
  7. Remove the plastic wrap from the ice cream pie and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Remove the outer ring from the springform pan.
  8. To make the whipped cream, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the cream, nutmeg, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Top the pie evenly with the whipped cream and decorate as desired with the baked cutouts. Serves 12.

 

Recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival 2013

image

Are you as excited as we are for the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival 2013? The festival will feature 30 vendors, and activities will included an ice cream eating contest, “chocolate school,” and chef demonstrations! Enjoy the festival this weekend starting today at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco!

Sugar Knife Artisan Sweets

image

image

We recently had a photo shoot with Sugar Knife Artisan Sweets from our neighboring city, Oakland! Sugar Knife is famous for creating alcoholic. artisan marshmallow flavors. The flavors, of course, have inventive names like Hella Frangelica (Bourbon vanilla bean and Frangelico), You Fancy, Huh? (Strawberries and Domain Chandon Champagne), and Nola Baby (Cafe Du Monde Coffee, Pecan, praline liqueur). Sugar Knife also specializes in making similarly delicious brittle flavors like the Filthy Pig (Bulleit bourbon, bacon, pecans) and Blonde at the Bar (Blue Moon Beer, almonds, orange zest). 

Since we know that our viewers are dying to know more about these sweet treats, we took the liberty of asking owner Jenna Keys about her inspired flavors!

image

Hella Frangelica (vanilla and Frangelica)

1.   Which flavor of marshmallow do you suggest for new customers?

“Hella Frangelica.”  It’s the classic vanilla flavor everyone’s familiar with in a marshmallow, but with a twist – we spike ours with Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur).  We also use real bourbon vanilla beans so you can see all the little black flecks in each square.  It’s like star-gazing, but much more delicious.  (pictured above)

2.   Which flavor of marshmallow or brittle is the hardest to make and why?

Everyone sees the fun and whimsy in candy, but most people don’t realize that candymaking is an exact science.  Like baking, precise measurements and cooking temperatures are required with virtually no room for error.  Other variables, such as weather and humidity levels, also greatly affect the outcome. That’s why it’s almost impossible to make a successful batch of candy on a rainy or exceptionally humid day (sugar absorbs moisture).

Of all our recipes, I’d say that our “Filthy Pig” and “Notorious P.I.G.” brittle are the hardest because they contain candied bacon, which takes up to two hours to make beforehand. The clean-up ain’t a party on the beach, either!

3.   Which flavor of marshmallow or brittle is the most creative? What’s the story behind it?

Hmmm.  All of our babies are special, but I’d have to give Most Creative to our  “Black Irish” marshmallow and “Big Poppa” brittle. 

The “Black Irish” is a Guinness Stout, Dark Chocolate, and Chocolate-Covered Pretzels puff, kindled by my trip to Ireland a few years back.  I visited the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and naturally had the most perfect pint pour at the top of the Gravity Bar.  While taking in the incredible 360 views, I struck up a conversation with the bar wench there (don’t worry, she loves it when I call her that).  She told me about her favorite way to consume Guinness – in a rich, dark chocolate cake like her grandmother always made. The concept of pairing chocolate with Guinness was new to me at the time and very much a “well, of course!” kind of epiphany, so when I got back to the states the first thing I did was whip up some Guinness Chocolate cupcakes.  They blew my socks off.  So, there you have it: our chocolate marshmallow was inspired by a sweet Irish bar wench (no, really.  She loves it). The chocolate–covered pretzels?  That’s all American right there. 

“Big Poppa” is one of the few whose name came before its flavor profile.  Notorious B.I.G. is one of my all-time favorites rappers and his nickname suggests something kind of over the top, so we composed a brittle reflective of this by loading it up with the most decadent ingredients: buttery macadamia nuts, Rogue Double Chocolate Stout, dark chocolate chips, tart dried Montmorency cherries.  It’s brittle fit for a king. 

image

Ghostride the Whip (pistachio and Disronno Amaretto)

4. How do you draw inspiration from music into your sweets? More specifically, how did you decide to name the pistachio and Disaronno Amaretto flavor “Ghostride the Whip” (pictured above)?

Music plays an integral part of our creative process.  We both love hip-hop and grew up listening to the 90’s legends; Wu-Tang, Tribe Called Quest, Dr. Dre, Pac, Nas, Biggie Smalls, Gangstarr, Mac Dre….

Most of our flavor names come to us organically in the proverbial “light bulb over the head” way. Sometimes we need a little more whiskey to inspire us. 

Our “Ghostride the Whip” marshmallow was fondly named.   We were on our way home from a Warriors game (yes, they lost) when our car was forced to stop because an impromptu sideshow had started in the street in front of us.  We could have reversed and taken another route, but instead we put the car in park.  I had some pistachios in my pocket that I had successfully smuggled into the Coliseum (but forgot about), so we got out and sat on the hood, cracked ‘em, and enjoyed the “show.”  It was a wildly entertaining Oaklandish experience.  When it came time to name this marshmallow it was obvious: “Ghostride the Whip.”  We also like that it’s a reference that’s Oakland/Bay Area specific. We’re big on that hometown love.    

image

Blonde at the Bar (Blue Moon Beer, almonds, and orange zest)

Check out their website here.

Summer Pies

image

Although pie is often associated with winter holidays, we believe that summer is the perfect time to break out the fruit pie recipes that you have been holding off all season for! Serious Eats posted an article last November about pie baking tips from the local San Francisco baking team, Three Babes BakeshopSome of the pie baking tips included: precooking apples for apple pie (so that the crust and fruit will not separate), baking the crust to extra-crispy for cream based pies, and use pie plates with a flat bottom and straight sloped sides! Read the article in more depth here

image

image

image

If you feel inspired to bake mini pies, check out the Breville Personal Pie Maker at Williams-Sonoma!

Happy National Blueberry month! How will you celebrate? If you are looking for inspiration, check out the mixed berry cobbler recipe below!

MIXED BERRY COBBLER 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package (16 ounces) strawberries
  • 1 package (6 ounces) blackberries
  • 1 package (6 ounces) raspberries
  • 1 package (6 ounces) blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cups plus 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • whipped cream or ice cream

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine berries and lemon juice in a bowl. Mix /2 cup sugar with cornstarch; pour over berries and stir gently. Place berries in a 2 quart or 9x9” baking dish.
  2. Place flour, 3 tablespoons sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream to make a soft dough. Drop by spoonfuls over fruit. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake about 50 minutes or until the top is well browned and juices are bubbly. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream. 

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in San Francisco

image

Serious Eats recently posted an article about the best (and worst) spots in San Francisco to eat chocolate chip cookies! The article covers a variety of criteria (gooey, crispy, nuts, adult palate, chocolate lovers…etc). Read more about the winners (and losers) here.

image

image