March 1, 2011

completed lighting project and a chocolate pudding torte

Michael and I have been working on a project for better lighting for my food pictures. He designed two light towers that give me enough light to shoot without flash, even if it's dark outside. He is my hero, basically.

So there has been a lot of sawing and drilling going on lately. Also a lot of bicep muscles and forearm veins. It's more than my little heart can handle.

He attached the top and bottom of the lights to the base.

Can I just say - I'm so glad he knows how to do this stuff. He had to pre-drill holes into the wood and everything. I would have used the hammer and nail approach, unsuccessfully.

So we Michael built these lights and covered them in opaque nylon using velcro so I could take off the cover to change the bulb when I need to. After finishing both of them, we moved them to the floor in my room and started experimenting with camera settings.

The set-up looks like this. But now I have pretty fabric covering up the awesome 80's baby blue carpet.

They work beautifully. It is very helpful to have them. Thank you, Michael! You are the best, I mean it. I am so thankful for you.

To celebrate the completion of our 3 week long project (we are busy), I made a pudding torte very similar to the pumpkin pudding torte I made this past fall. I wanted to show you the difference between the lighting in my kitchen and the lighting with my new towers.

Indoor lights.

Light towers.

Awesome, huh? So much more clear, bright, crisp. It even looks more appealing to eat!

So with that said - I love this pudding torte. My Mom has always made it for us growing up and called it "Italian Wedding Torte" so that name lives on in my family.

It's creamy with a buttery crust, and also pretty low in calories. It's a win/win situation with this dessert. And you know how much I love win/win situations. Totally ideal.

I can't wait to share more clear, bright pictures of my food with you. This makes me SO happy!

Here's the recipe!

Chocolate Pudding Torte

print this recipe

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 stick butter, melted
1 8-oz block light cream cheese, softened
1 16-oz container of light cool whip, thawed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large package of sugar free jello instant vanilla pudding
1 large package of sugar free jello instant chocolate pudding
4 cups nonfat milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour and butter in a small bowl with your hands until crumbly. Press into the bottom of a 13x9 pan, preferably glass. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Put to the side to cool.

To make the cream cheese layer: use a hand mixer to cream softened cream cheese and 1/2 of the container of cool whip. Sweeten it with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Whip until fluffy. Once the crust is completely cooled, dot the cream cheese mixture around the crust. Use a small metal spatula to carefully spread the mixture around the crust. Keep working with it until it's all spread.

For the pudding layers: start with vanilla. You can use the same bowl you used for the cream cheese mixture. Empty the package of vanilla pudding into the bowl and pour in 2 cups of milk. Beat with a hand mixer until combined, about 3 minutes. Evenly spread the vanilla pudding over cream cheese layer. Use the same bowl to make chocolate pudding, using remainder 2 cups of milk. Beat with hand mixer. Pour over vanilla pudding and smooth. Top with remaining cool whip. Spread until smooth and cool whip covers the whole torte. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.


  1. Sweeeeeeeeeeeet! The lighting is amazing! Go Jenner! I mean, Michael! Um, Jenner and Michael! :) Love.

  2. That lighting is awesome! It's so tricky to have food look good in regular indoor lighting. I think you guys have figure it out! Now, can your dude explain it to my dude so I can have some of the same?

  3. wow!!! it's amazing what a difference it makes! i need to make one for my photos too b/c i take all my pictures during the daylight. and your pudding torte looks heavenly~~~

  4. O.M.G. I have lighting envy. Seriously. I wish my bf could build me stuff...

  5. Wow. Looks amazing. Good work!

  6. This is so awesome! I too need to invest in such a contraption. I try to rush home from work to catch the sun before it sets so I can get a decent picture. This would make life so much easier!

  7. Congrats! The lights turned out great, and your photos are beautiful!

  8. biceps AND a torte- how could this get any better?!?! i love the new layout for march btw- the colors are really perdy~ but i agree, my pictures w/o good lighting stink. like burnt pizza. in my oven. right now. gotta go!! thanks 4 the interesting post thou~ ellie :)

  9. I love win/win situations also. Especially when they involve pudding! This torte looks delicious! And thank god Michael is so handy. These photos look awesome!

  10. The pictures look wonderful!! Way to go with the torte, Jenna. Way to go with the lighting, Michael:)