Friday, October 9, 2015

Chiaroscuro Book and Kraken Cookies

In honor of Halloween celebrations coming up, I wanted to highlight a recent project of mine: Chiaroscuro. See below for more info about the event, and remember that the book about it is
available on Amazon if you want to buy your own copy! It's full of photos from the event and behind-the-scenes photos of making it. It also has a recipe section full of all-black and all-white foods that would be perfect for a spooky buffet.

In case you are wondering what Chiaroscuro was, here's the artist statement:
Anyone who has ever survived hardship knows that the world is not all good, all the time. But the contrasts in life give it richness; the darkness gives light purpose. Without bitter, would we appreciate sweet? Without rough, would we notice smooth? I created a food-based event called "Chiaroscuro" highlighting the importance of these contrasts to facilitate acceptance of past trauma. It was set up as a cocktail party with a banquet table in the center, divided down the middle. On one side were all-black foods, and on the other their nearly identical all-white counterparts. The forms were the same, the colors and the tastes drastically different. Pungent horseradish salad juxtaposing nutty and sweet poppyseed paste highlighted the vibrancy of each. The event was a forum for discussion, an exercise in empathy, and an exploration of the idea that life is richer with its many contrasts. This book includes a full artist statement, photos from the event, recipes for every food item featured, and lots and lots of gorgeous pictures of the process.

You can also see more pictures from the event on my Facebook page or my website. I am so happy I was able to present this project, and I couldn't have done it without the support of my backers. So instead of just sending them the book, I sent them a little extra:

Some of these are coasters. Some of these are cookies. All of them went out as an extra "Thank you!" to my generous Kickstarter backers that made this project happen. 

There's just something about the black-on-black that I find incredibly alluring, don't you? But I'm not a fan of using food coloring in my food artwork- it's just not great for you and it makes me feel like I'm "cheating." So I decided that my challenge to myself was to make these cookies using only all-natural sources of black coloring.

Enter: Kraken Cookies.

These are a delicious hybrid of chocolate cookies and gingerbread, with a little extra kick: squid ink makes them a beautiful black color naturally and adds a very subtle umami flavor that rounds out the sweetness of the cookies just a bit and makes the flavor of the cookies a little richer (without tasting fishy at all.) The frosting packs a punch too- made with spiced rum (kraken, appropriately) and cocoa powder, it turns out a gorgeous glossy black to contrast the matte black cookies.

Oven 375F

In a bowl, mix:
3 ¾ cups flour
2/3 c. cocoa powder, sifted
1 Tbs. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. ground cloves

In a big bowl, beat until fluffly:
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup shortening or unsalted butter.

Then add:
1 large egg
¾ c. molasses
6-7 tsp. squid ink (this is usually salted which is why the salt was omitted from dry ingredients.)

Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed or by hand until just combined. Roll out dough between 2 layers of waxed paper (avoid using flour because it will show up on the black surface of the dough!) Roll to 1/4 “ thick and use your favorite cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Place on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool on the pan.


Beat 1 egg white with 1/8 c. rum and 2 pkg squid ink (about 1 tsp) and 1 tsp. vanilla.

Add ¼ c. cocoa pow and mix well. Add 2 ½ cup powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time and mixing well after each addition. Put in a pastry bag with a small round tip and pipe on cookies as desired. *note: you may need to adjust the consistency of the frosting a little bit. Add more powdered sugar to stiffen, or add more rum ½ tsp. at a time to thin.

*note: this post was not sponsored by Kraken rum, though it probably should have been! ;) 

Enjoy, and Happy Spooking! 

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