Mockingbirds are assholes…incredibly talented, naturally gifted, vocally impressive assholes. Yeah, that’s kinda harsh, but it’s totally true. There once was a time when I slept freely: window open, fan blowing, enjoying a peaceful sleep. But all that changed when a flock of mockingbirds came and settled in the tree across the street.
Hold on. Deep breath. Let me start over.
Mockingbirds are great… great at imitating other birds, car alarms, wind chimes, you name it. Great at keeping me up at all hours of the night with their captivating, yet endless serenades. Great at inciting me into a (standing-barefoot-in-the-middle-of-the-street-with-a-hand-full-of-rocks) rage. True story. I’m not a violent person, mind you, but this is no joke. Don’t. Mess. With. My. Slumber.
Ugh, something had to change.
So…after altering my sleep schedule, purchasing a case of earplugs and buying stock in Ambien, I’m a new person. Mockingbirds are awesome now. I totally appreciate them. They’re my new best friends…really.
Now that I’ve been converted to a lover of all-things mockingbird, I’d like to celebrate with cupcakes…jumbo sized cupcakes with salted sour cream ganache. Whew, that’s a mouthful!
I like this recipe because the frosting is easy to make. Frosting is the reason why I don’t make cakes more often. All that whipping, making sure the frosting is the right consistency and then a crumb coat? Are you serious?
For this batch of cupcakes frosting is out and salted sour cream ganache is in. This ganache has two ingredients: dark chocolate and sour cream. It makes for a slightly tart dark chocolate topping which is nicely complimented by a sprinkling of Fleur de Sel. I suppose you could add a third, powdered sugar, so there would be a bit more sweetness to it. Either way it’s perfectly enjoyable. Kinda like the singsong brilliance of the mockingbird…as long as I’m not trying to sleep, that is.
Salted Sour Cream Ganache Photo Notes
I was dead tired during this shoot. In addition to running a commercial studio, I do A LOT of outside retouching. It pays the bills, but fixing the work of awful photographers can be exhausting.
One of the things I love about food photography is the fact that most of the work is done in-camera. If a shooter lights a cookie from the wrong direction, no amount of Photoshop is going to save the day. To correctly light any type of still life, the photographer has to know the nature of the object. Does it have texture? Is it translucent? Is it reflective etc….? These are all factors a photographer has to take into account before snapping a single shot. If you figure out the object, carefully style it, and light accordingly, the work in Post is going to be minimal.
So how did I light these objects? I did it all in Photoshop (just kidding). The lighting setup is pretty simple with one large light panel very close to the subjects. This created a nice soft wrap-around light with a fast fall-off. The fill is provided by a white bounce card.
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-90mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Salted Sour Cream Ganache Recipe
- 10 ounces dark chocolate(I used Ghirardelli’s 60% Cacao)
- 1 cup sour cream
- Pinch of salt
- Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.
- Heat chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts.
- Make sure to stir chocolate after each 30 second burst.
- Once the chocolate is completely melted mix in a little bit of the sour cream to temper the chocolate.
- Add the rest of the sour cream and stir to combine.
- Do not refrigerate before using.
- Store in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 1½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1½ cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup milk
- ¾ cup sour cream
- Special equipment: jumbo cupcake pan
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Reserve.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter and sugar. Using the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix vanilla, milk, sour cream and add slowly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually mix in the flour.
- Spray muffin tin Baking Pam or line with paper cups. Fill the muffin cups about ⅔ of the way, dividing the batter evenly.
- Put in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Check about halfway through and rotate the muffin tin.
- The cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a cake.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack, frost and sprinkle with salt, if using.