Sweet Pics & Chocolate Experiments


A little something I came up with while living in the jungle: Chocolate and maseca black bean brownie mini-cakes made on the frying pan.

I've been spending so much time posting OPAPs (other people's awesome pics) on my other blog, that I've let my own photography slide a bit. I'm still baking away, having fun with the limitations I have baking here in a little town in tropical Mexico, in a little rental house with a very basic kitchen (i.e. limited access to ingredients and gear) as well as only baking on cool mornings (which are getting rare as it's starting to really heat up here). While finding, selecting, and posting awesome pics from all over the world  on Baking is Hot, I realized that I have to make an effort to take more photos of my own goods - and not just ok photos. Yes, that's tricky to do considering my semi-nomadic styles these days, but if I want to be a hot-shot designer/baker/producer then my pics have to be awesome, or at least look very delicious. :)

Here are a few photos of some of my Mexican chocolate experiments. (Not bad?) More recipes coming soon... Happy healthy baking and photo-taking!

Oh, and if you have any great-sneaky-crafty food photography tips or links, please share in the comments. :)


Fresh corn tortillas as crepes. I made a sweet chocolate spread (similar to my Noir Chocolate Spread) with local honey, cacao, coconut oil, and vanilla.



Experiments in rustic chocolate making.

For a couple of months, I was obsessed with making my own chocolate from scratch. I bought fermented beans from different produce markets, learned how to roast  them myself, ground them up and mixed in more ingredients, pressed it all into forms.... but could never get a really pronounced chocolate flavour out of my beans. What I found out after learning more about cacao quality and fermentation, is that most of the good cacao beans are exported to Europe. Sigh. My rustic chocolates were still pretty delicious. :)

Lover's Tropical Granola

Here in tropical Mexico, we can find all these great ingredients to make a mean batch of healthy chunky fruity granola. My sweetheart, who is a connoisseur, is now the in-house granola-maker. (Once you try fresh granola, there's no turning back.) This flexible recipe is his favorite.

Recipe: Lover's Tropical Granola

Thanks for the sweet pic Crispin :)

Baking is Hot!

Cute phrase, ya? That's what my sweetheart thought when I blurted it out a year and a half ago, so we immediately snapped up the URL. After an exhilarating year of travel and major life changes, we finally found the time to make Baking is Hot, a place to showcase inspiring baking photos (that link to great recipes), and the best baking stuff online.

Baking is Hot is still in beta, so we'd love your feedback on the site. (Yes, there will be tons of great pics from other bloggers too!) We want it to make it the sweetest spot for bakers online. Please let us know what you think - thanks!


xo Patty

P.S. You too can get a stylie "Featured on Baking is Hot" badge (look to the right) if we feature one of your awesome pics. Contact me if you have something wonderful to share. :)

P.P.S. My secret agenda for Baking is Hot is to promote healthy baking to the masses. Wish me luck.

Healthy Chia Banana Bars

Healthy Chia Banana Bars 3

My favorite breakfast these days: quick, easy, tasty, filling and super-healthy. All of the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find here in Mexico. Packed with whole grains and seeds, these squares are wheat-free, gluten-free (if made with gluten-free oats), dairy-free, egg-free, low in sugar, and high in fiber. Did I mention they're delicious?

Recipe: Chia Banana Bars

In our house, we eat these so often, we call them Chia Squares. But I thought Chia Banana Bars was more descriptive. What do you think?
Healthy Chia Banana Bars 2

PS: I've been super-busy working on an exciting new baking site - more about this soon!

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

Once upon a time, on a cold dark winter night, I was living in a tiny condo in downtown Toronto. The condo was a furnished short-term rental, and the kitchen was bare-bones - not a pan, whisk, or mixing bowl to be seen. It was about this time of the year, and I wanted to make a festive treat to enjoy with my sweetheart. Something easy. Something beautiful. Something familiar, but different...

I perused some of my favourite food blogs, and was inspired by this stellar recipe for peanut butter cups. I imagined a variation with 2 of my favorite things: super-fine dark chocolate and smooth almond butter. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and whoa ~

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

I've been hanging on to this lovely recipe for over a year now, and finally have a drop of time to share it. ¡Feliz Navidad mis amigos!

Baking Banana Bread in Bacalar

I've been happily mucking about in the kitchen, baking with the little gas oven in the mornings when it's cool enough to do so. (Yes, I have an oven!) It's a fun challenge to bake-up delicious wheat-free healthy goods with the ingredients I have access to here.

The very first thing I whipped-up was a classic: hearty rustic banana bread, based on my recipe for Easy Gluten-free Banana Bread. Of course, I had to make a few alterations. I used a combination of white rice flour (surprisingly easy to find here) and home-made oat flour. My banana bread also had unrefined Mexican brown cane sugar (called piloncillo - delicious!), Mexican cinnamon (I always double the amount as it's more subtle than what I use in Canada), and of course - delectable aromatic Mexican vanilla. Local bananas, eggs, and a sprinkling of fresh pepitas on top - yum!

There's no aluminum-free baking powder here, or cream of tartar (so that I can make my own). Instead, I used a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and though my cake was a bit dense, the soda+acid did the trick.

I also used a small rectangular stainless steel pan, the only pan I brought from Canada, instead of a loaf pan. Worked like a charm.

The banana bread was hearty and delicious (though I'd like to make a few tweaks before sharing the recipe...) It made a lovely breakfast, enjoyed with my sweetie and a cup of exquisite Chiapas coffee in a hammock watching the sunrise. La vida es buena. Life is good.


Thanks for the awesome pic Crispin.

Estoy en Mexico


Sugary treat from Dia de los Muertos and Laguna Bacalar

November! It's been a while. I've been all over the continent the past few months. After my cross-Canada trek, I spent a bit of time in the lovely Okanagan, enjoying  all the bounty of late summer. After that, my sweetheart and I drove down the west coast USA, then east to the Sonora dessert, then south down into Mexico - hugging the west coast all the way over to Troncones, then across the continent again (and through sprawling Mexico city) all the way over to the south eastern corner of the Yucatan, where we finally arrived in the lovely little town of Bacalar where we are settling for the next few months or more...


Our travel route - wow! Thanks for charting us Crispin.

This time we are in town (rather than the jungle), so that we can have the internet, as well as people to speak Spanish with. Todavia estoy apreniendo español. (I'm still studying Spanish. Feel free to correct me!)  We are also close to a sweet little mercado (market) with lovely ripe local tropical fruit and veggies. I even found a little shop that sells bulk fermented cacao beans! Sooo looking forward to concocting my own rustic chocolate... I will share info, tips, recipes, and pics while I'm here - but more often I'll be off swimming in the cenote, making awesome fruit salads, or studying my Spanish. :-)

Thank you for all of your comments and feedback - I'm really impressed by all the creative healthy baking going on. Since I'm back online, I can reply to comments and questions too - I love all the delicious healthy food banter you know. I've also been checking out your blogs - great stuff!

Abrazos (hugs),
Patty

Breakfast on a boulder & other delights

Wow, it's almost autumn. I have many lovely recipes, pics and stories from the past several months that I'm longing to share... Since I have a moment to spare between traveling, working, and living, thought I'd share a few travel and foodie pics from my cross country trek from Toronto to Kelowna BC. Canada is a gorgeous country.


We managed to do a bit of camping as we meandered across the continent: fun! Fresh wild blueberries and saskatoons from Manitoba. Amazing as is -


or mixed into hot oatmeal -


or mixed into hot chia cereal. Yum.


Our camping coffee making station. My sweetheart gets the credit for this efficient set-up. I particularly love the light camping kettle and hand-crank coffee bean grinder (both from mec) - the grinder sure beats the hammer-smashing-beans-wrapped-in-hankie method we used when we lived in the jungle in Mexico. Thanks for the great pic Crispin.


My favourite coat rack.


Loveliest spot for a tent. (Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Manitoba.)


Fresh off the grill: baked bananas filled with chocolate + hot chocolate.


Hiking the surreal Spirit Sands barefooted - anomalous sand dunes in Manitoba. (Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Manitoba.) Almost like a desert, we really loved this unusual park. Great hiking, biking, camping, and equestrian trails.


Nothing better than breakfast on a boulder. Hot chia cereal (great camping food) + coffee. Gorgeous camping at Lake Superior National Park. Thanks for another great pic Crispin.

Speaking of rocks - the Rocky Mountains, once again, blew my mind.


We hiked up to the teahouse at Lake Louise (awesome hike) and enjoyed a lovely cup of jasmine green tea and scones with strawberry preserves. (See first photo.) The teahouse is nestled in the mountains and only accessible by hiking up. The staff bakes everything from scratch at this off-the-grid spot. Sweet.

Thanks again for all your great feedback, recipe variations, and comments. I do check and reply often, as I really love meeting other life-loving healthy foodies. :)

Nomadic Foodie


Just can't get enough: fresh tropical fruit at the Campeche market. Photo by Crispin.

¡Hola amigos! Just wanted to let you all know where I'm at: currently in Canada, enjoying the beautiful summer produce, and then heading back down to Mexico for the winter. My posts will be super-sporadic for the next several months, as I'm in transit - traveling around the continent in a caravan of one with my sweetheart. Hoping I'll get the chance to share some travel pics and recipes while on the road... Thanks for all your comments and great feedback!

xo Patty

Almond Rice Horchata

Home-made horchata is definitely where it's at. I don't think I'll ever buy rice milk or almond milk again, as home-made almond/rice horchata is similar, but much better. I've just started making my own horchata with: almonds, rice, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, lime zest, and a pinch of salt. I would love to make this with agave syrup too, but, funnily enough, agave syrup is impossible to find in this part of Mexico. It's even possible to make "sugar-free horchata" with no sugars at all, or a little bit of stevia... I'd really love to make horchata from sprouted/germinated almonds - though I haven't been able to find any raw almonds that are still "raw" since California has been irradiating their almonds. Anyways, after several experiments, here's my new horchata recipe:

Recipe: Almond Rice Horchata


My first ever horchata in progress: almonds, rice, cinnamon, and lime zest soaking in water.


Wish you were here: A refreshing and nourishing glass of almond horchata hits the spot when it's too hot to cook. When it's +44C (with humidity) this is a good thing!

Disfruta! Enjoy! 

PS - I'm just starting another wave of traveling, so my posts will still be super-sporadic. I wish I had more time to post all the wonderful things I'm learning, but there's always mañana. ;) Next stop: Costa Maya