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.

Sugar Knife Artisan Sweets

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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!

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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. 

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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.    

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

Check out their website here.

Classic Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are essential to our childhood memories. Although at the time, our parents may have limited us to one of or two per day (if we were lucky), feel free to use the recipe below and treat yourself!

SUGAR COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.