Sweet Surrender to Gluttony

Gluttony is a sin, as listed and described by the Bible, but every Thanksgiving is secretly about gluttony. The coinage of the term “holiday weight” must have been based on the massive binge that begins with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year, when after, more than a month of stuffing one’s face with every possible sweet and savory delight that we can concoct, our bodies have had enough and is ready to take the plunge into the empty promise of a New Year resolution. But while it lasts, lets stuff it with things that can make grown men weep with satisfaction. One of the desserts on my table for this thanksgiving were Pecan Bar, I had a pumpkin chiffon pie and the thought of another pie was too much to handle, so the pie became a bar.

Let me first talk about photographing this. I had decided that I wanted a dark, moody background, because the bars themselves have very warming browns and caramel colors in it and the dark background was to tone it down. It also worked in my favor that today is a dark, gloomy, snowy day in New Jersey – so light was perfect. The pictures were shot near an open window and the background and surface are both black foam boards. I used a white foam board to reflect some light back to cut out some shadows, besides this NO other equipment was used. When you see the pecan bars, you will notice their raggedy edge, it is by default and by design. I hate when things are TOO perfect and the organic feel is lost.

The recipe is from Ina Garten with just the addition of a little bit of grand marnier.




  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup good honey
  • 3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grand marnier (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream , grand marnier and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

DO NOT reprint/reuse pictures or any of the material on this blog without the author’s explicit permission. All material copyright of Shruthi.V/Photopportunist. For more check out – www.photopportunist.com

Sweet Surrender to Gluttony

And so it begins…

Thanksgiving is here in a couple of days and with it begins the holiday season ….officially! Now towns everywhere in the US will scramble to find their trees and light them up, some crazy people will wait in line on Black Friday, at ungodly hours to get a bargain and a  jump start on their Christmas gift list and slowly the lights will comes on alongwith the decorations. More than giving thanks, the last thursday of this month, will be remembered more for the unsavory amounts of food, cooked and consumed. Unfortunately, we are no different! I will have my nephews, sister-in-law and brother with me for the long weekend and that means tons of baking for me! We will skip the turkey, and stick to chicken, we aren’t really a roast turkey sort of household! But the part of the meal that my nephews are looking forward to are the desserts and yes I did use the plural form quite deliberately. It has already begun with some initial testing of a slightly tweaked Chocolate Madeleine recipe, which should come in handy for the warm afternoon tea sessions. I ask for your pardon well in advance, both for inducing hunger and for turning this photography blog into a food blog for a little while. The recipe is below the set of photographs.

3 large eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 stick or 4oz + 1tbsp butter melted and cooled

3/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa ( it makes a difference, i tried with normal hershey’s it just wasn’t the same)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp orange zest

Preheat oven at 350F. Butter the madeleine tray and dust with flour.

In a stand mixer, combine the eggs and sugar and beat on low speed for 3 minutes till pale. Add the vanilla and orange zest. In a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients and make sure there are no lumps. Put it through a sieve, if you have to.  Now, slowly combine the dry and wet ingredients with the mixer speed still on low. Once combined, add the melted butter and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Spoon out a small ice cream scoop/tablespoon (depends on the size of your madeleine tray, for the size I used a tablespoon measure) worth  onto the middle of each indent in the madeleine tray. Bake for 12 minutes.  Serve with your favorite tea.


All photographs and material on this blog are copyright of Photopportunist/Shruthi Venkatasubramanian. DO NOT reprint or reuse without permission

And so it begins…

A launch and a request

Hey everyone,

I finally bit the bullet and launched my official website today – www.photopportunist.com ably supported by a facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/Photopportunist. I appreciate everyone who takes the time out to read this blog. You come from different backgrounds and yet you understand and appreciate what I do, proving that art transcends all that. For your support and encouragement, I am eternally grateful. Do visit the website and “like” the facebook page, to keep in touch with everything I do. It might be a bit tacky to ask someone to “like” a page, but am small fish in the ocean who needs the props from all of you to be visible. Thank you so much for everything you do for me.

Much Love


A launch and a request