Transforming Box Mix Brownies: A Quick Guide to Elevating Low Cost Desserts

food

There are a few things that people love to see when they eat food. First of all, presentation is key. They are willing to pay for the looks of it so they can seem up scale when the photo lands on their foodstagram or snapchat. How many times have you heard words among these lines: “Eh.. it wasn’t that great but I bought it for the aesthetics” ,”buy it for the insta”, “overpriced but aesthetic”…. sigh, it’s very telling. Food nowadays is all about show, especially in this generation where with the click of a button, the world of social media can see what you are currently eating right now.

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With that being said, aesthetic does not need to be expensive. I wanted to gift a nice dessert to a colleague but did not know what to make. I made a japanese fluffy cheesecake but didn’t love how it turned out, I made cream puffs and was annoyed that they weren’t the same size, I made a roll cake which I had accidentally overbaked… so my last resort was boxed brownies. I felt so defeated because I had really stooped this low, but I knew brownies, let alone boxed ones, were impossible to mess up. I had planned to make an extravagant dessert and ended up with my box of $2 Ghirardelli double chocolate brownie mix. At least I knew it’d be decadent and taste good. But then… I gathered up a few ingredients in my pantry while the brownies were in the oven and realized I could make these brownies look from $2 to $15. No JOKE. With sugar, butter, flour, chocolate chips, cream, and chocolate chip cookies, I elevated these brownies to the next level. “I’m on a new level” as A$AP Ferg may say.

Here are the simple tips that can elevate any dish:

  • A simple pattern or design: elegant, and shows an extra step of skill in baking.
  • Contrasting colors:  a light on dark or vice versa makes the food pop. Looks more 3D and is more enticing to the human eye.
  • Monochromatic colors: shades of a single color is very desirable as well. People love monochrome and explains why ombre is so pleasing to look at.
  • Texture: In terms of appearance and taste, people love texture. People love crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside, or smooth with a crunch. Ice cream with crushed cookies or gummies are appealing because it adds texture.
  • Layers of texture: This is a difficult one because too much can be overwhelming, but the right amount is perfect. I’m talking smooth on top of crunchy, on top of sharp on top of…. you know, the list could go on.
  • Packaging: This is key because it’s the first thing that is seen. Before opening a box, packaging gives the first impression. Of course they sayings goes “paying for packaging”..
  • Mini or bite size: Ever seen a bundt cake and thought you didn’t want it? Well what about bite size bundt cake… all of a sudden you do want it. It’s because it has become finger food and no plates or utensils are required, and it’s so adorable that it’s irresistible. This is exactly why cupcakes cost so much more than cakes and why donut holes are more desirable than donuts.

And with that being said, transformation of boxed desserts is rather simple once you know how to apply the rules.

With the supplies I had, I did the following:

  1. Made the cookie crumb topping from my Full-proof puffs recipe and let it set at room temperature to form a swirl for pattern and contrasting colors. [white on black]. Cookie crumb topping was reduced to about 1/4 since I didn’t need that much.
  2. Pour 3 tbsp hot heavy cream over 4 tbsp chocolate chips to form a ganache for layers of texture. Ganache was drizzled on brownies.
  3. Crush 1 chocolate chip cookie into coarse crumbs (large and small crumbs included for texture and monochromatic colors. Cookie crumbs will partially stick onto the ganache.
  4. Cut the brownies into small 1″ x 1″ squares and fit them into a box that already had squares in them for packaging and bite size. It’s difficult to find a box with square placements in them so this definitely isn’t required.
  5. Lastly, tie a bow on the box if it is a gift and leave a cute note.

Hopefully after reading the guide, you can elevate your next box or cake, dessert, or cookies. Wow your guests when in reality you probably only spent $2 and used whatever you had at home :’) Tricky huh?

 

Fluffy Chinese Bakery Bread (Sweet & Savory Fillings)

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Bread is my rock. I can survive with bread and some butter (maybe cheese), and the beautiful thing about bread is that it comes in all shapes and sizes and is a staple in every single country. I believe in the it is said that bread brings people together, because people sit down, break bread, and just talk to create bonds and meaningful relationships.

As a result of my love for bread, it is also my favorite thing to make. The texture of dough is fun to work with and the science behind bread making is stunning. Every single bread I’ve made up to this date has been homemade because I have not yet invested in a stand mixer. It certainly cuts production time by about half, but whenever I consider buying one, I just know that I can do it all by hand, and why let a machine do something that I can do? Plus, kneading dough is a FANTASTIC workout, so why not burn a few calories while at it?

As I move on to discussing Asian bakery bread, in particular, from Taiwan or China, I just want to state that Asian bread rocks. It’s unique in that it much softer, butterier, and fluffier, and often filled with combinations of unique flavors such as 1.) mayo, corn, pork sung, and green onions 2.) pudding and sugar crust 3.) ham, onions, and garlic sauce 4.) Red bean and sesame paste…. The combinations are infinite and as bizarre as some sound, they all end up working well together. Asian bread is famous for using a tangzhong method, but I found that it’s not necessary to making fluffy bread. Simple ingredients and the proper technique can result in a successful bread.

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Ham, pesto, and cheddar loaf

I’ve failed in making bread a plethora of times before I fully understood the science behind bread. My failures were tough, but I want to post my tips below to ensure the proper bread is made.

My mistakes:

  • Must use lukewarm water: about 105 F. I always had my water too hot, and the yeast died, resulting in flat bread.
  • Always add sugar to yeast to activate yeast efficiently. A 1/2 tsp of yeast is sufficient.
  • Do not add flour to yeast mixture until there are plenty of bubbles. Takes about 15-20 min. This will help rising and ensure the bread is nice and soft.
  • Room temperature for rising is sufficient (around 80-85 F). BTW 83 F is room temperature for my family 🙂  I always killed my yeast by placing it in a warmed oven. Unnecessary waste of energy and resulted in failure.
  • Adding excess flour when the dough initially seems wet is a NO NO. I’ve dried out my dough several times because I was impatient to knead the dough more, and I added flour which dried the dough. If the dough is sticky, continue to knead and add 1/2 tsp flour slowly at a time until the dough is smooth. If the recipe is followed correctly, not much extra flour will need to be added. TRUST ME ON THIS! I’ve made bad breads too many times due to this mistake.
  • Hand kneading can take up to 30 minutes. Dough must bounce back, feel springy, and pass the windowpane test, otherwise bread will not be as fluffy! I cannot stress HOW important this tip is. It’s a must.
  • Patience is KEY. Most of my failures arose because I was impatient. I didn’t let the bread rise for 1-2 hours, I couldn’t wait for my yeast to activate, and I didn’t want to knead until the windowpane test was passed. My first successful bread took me 45 min to knead, but now that I have become more skilled, it takes me about 10-15 min, which is not bad at all. Just listen to music or watch a show, and time will pass by quickly.

Fluffy Chinese Bakery Bread (Sweet & Savory Fillings)

yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 c. bread flour (loosely packed)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp softened unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 c warm milk (2% or whole milk works)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • egg wash: 1/2 beaten egg

For sweet taro filling:

  • 1 c. mashed taro
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar or honey
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp water
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp white sesame seeds for the top

For savory filling:

  • 4 slices ham OR turkey
  • 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella OR cheddar
  • 4 tbsp pesto sauce or tomato sauce
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp garlic bread seasoning for the top

NOTE: the filling recipes EACH make 2 loaves. Because I wanted variety, I did one sweet and one savory but typically most people would just make both loaves the same flavor. I’m just going for variety here.

Directions:

  1.  Grease two loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, yeast, and warm milk until completely dissolved. Let the yeast activate for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pour in the bread flour, salt, and egg, and mix until sticky and combined. On a floured surface, pour out the dough and knead for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add in the softened butter and knead for an additional 10 minutes OR more until the dough passes the windowpane test and springs back when pressed. The dough will temporarily separate due to the butter and seem like it won’t come together, but keep kneading and the dough will slowly incorporate.
  4. Lightly grease the bowl, place the dough (shaped into a ball) in the bowl, cover it with a larger pot or plate, and place in a warm area to rise for 1-2 hours. I placed my dough outside which was the perfect mix of heat and humidity.

    _DSC0096

    dough has tripled in size

  5. Meanwhile, to make the taro filling, heat a small pot on low and pour in the water, sugar or honey, and cornstarch in and whisk until simmering. Pour in the mashed taro and whisk until combined (about 3 minutes). Turn the heat off and set aside to let the mixture cool. Add purple food coloring if desired.
  6. Once dough has risen, pour onto a lightly floured surface and divide dough into 8 even pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll one dough piece into a long oval shape. The dough should be about 1/8th of an inch thick. Spoon the taro onto the oval dough and spread from top to bottom, but do not get too close to the edges. Roll the dough like you would a cinnamon roll and lightly seal the edges. The edges do not need to be completely sealed._DSC0098
  7. If doing savory, lay half a slice of deli meat, spread 1/2 tsp pesto or tomato sauce, and sprinkle some cheese and roll dough like you would a cinnamon roll.
  8. Repeat the process and place 4 rolled dough into each greased loaf pan._DSC0106
  9. Beat an egg well and use a pastry brush to brush the 2 loaves of bread with egg wash. Sprinkle white sesame seeds onto the taro bread and sprinkle garlic bread seasoning onto the savory bread. Cover the 2 loaves with plastic wrap and foil and let the dough rise for an additional 20 min.
  10. Preheat the oven to 340 F.
  11. After the second rising, place the dough into the oven and bake for 22 minutes, OR until the tops are golden brown due to the Maillard reaction. The bread is delicious right out the oven but will get softer once it has set for about 15 minutes covered.

As I have concluded that this is my best bread dough up to date, I’d like to experiment with different shapes and fillings. This was a simple loaf recipe but Chinese bread is known for its beautiful shapes, so until next time, Stay tuned :’)

Low Fat Lemon Poppyseed Cake (Vegan)

food, healthy

Experimentation comes with frustration, wasted time, and wasted money. When attempting to make non-conventional recipes, trial after trial is crucial to get the perfect amounts of ingredients since food is all about the science and measurements behind it. Vegan baking is particularly difficult since eggs aren’t allowed and the animal fats are not able to make the baked product moist. Instead, alternatives like plant oils are utilized, and plant based butter simply isn’t as fragrant as animal based butter. With that being said, I truly appreciate all the vegan bakers out there, in making delicious recipes that are harmless to animals and better for the body overall.

Today’s lemon poppyseed cake is a delicious dessert that typically would require eggs and loads of butter or oil, but not today. You have stumbled upon a much healthier recipe that you can indulge on day and night!


Low Fat Lemon Poppyseed Cake (Vegan)

yield: 1 loaf

ingredients:

  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. vegan yogurt
  • 3 tbsp. vegan buttermilk (recipe HERE) OR 3 tbsp vegan yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c.  + 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds

For lemon frosting:

  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 355 F.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, poppy seeds, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon juice and let the mixture sit for a couple minutes.
  4. Pour the flour mixture into the wet and whisk until fully incorporated. Do not overmix as this could result in a tough cake.
  5. Pour into a 8 x 4 loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake the cake for 25-30 min.
  6. Take the cake out of the pan and let it cool on a rack for about 30 min. Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and spread the glaze onto the cooled cake. Optional: sprinkle some lemon zest on the glaze.

 

lemon cake 2

The cake is best enjoyed after it is made, served with a cup of hot coffee or tea.

In making healthier dessert options, I’m hoping that more people can stop giving dessert a negative connotation. Dessert doesn’t have to be overly sweet and fattening. I believe that any store bought dessert tends to be far too sweet for my liking, which is why I no longer purchase desserts. I simply make them at home, alter it to cater to my tastebuds, save money, and have fun. It’s a win-win for me and I hope you all attempt to bake more at home.

Happy baking!

My Foolproof Cream Puff Recipe (Red Bean and Sesame Flavor)

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These light, eggy, and airy puffs of joy can often lead to a kitchen conundrum, but I have one simple-to-follow recipe that results in the perfect crowdpleasing desserts at any dinner party! OR just a dessert that you can devour on your own :’). Typically a vanilla or custard cream is used to fill puffs, but I highly recommend taking an extra step to make a flavored cream such as oreo, chocolate, or strawberry. I followed a more Asian flavor and made red bean and black sesame cream.


Foolproof Cream Puffs

yield: 20 large puffs OR 60 small puffs

Ingredients:

For the sugar crumb topping:

  • 2/3 c. cake flour (I made my own cake flour; ratio= 1 c. All-purpose flour to 2 tbsp cornstarch)
  • 1/4 c, granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. unsalted butter (softened)

For the puff:

  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/3 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 4 eggs

For the red bean cream:

  • 1 tub store bought whipped cream topping
  • 3/4 c. canned red bean paste

For the sesame cream:

  • 1 tub store bought whipped cream topping
  • 1/4 c. black sesame paste (store bought or homemade)

Directions:

  1. To make the sugar crumb topping, combine all ingredients thoroughly with a spatula and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper into any a square or circle (the shape doesn’t matter) until it is about 1/4 cm thick. Place in the fridge so the dough hardens. puff 5
  2. In a saucepan, melt water and butter until simmering. Then add the salt and flour and stir with a spatula until the dough comes together. Cook the dough for an additional 2 min. and then remove from the heat.puff 1
  3. Spread the dough out with a spatula in the pan so that it can cool faster. After about 10 minutes of cooling, crack in the eggs one by one, mixing them in completely with a spatula before adding another egg. puff 2
  4. Once the dough is smooth, completely incorporated, and a thick, viscous consistency, place in a piping bag or sandwich bag with the corner trimmed.
  5. Preheat the oven to 355 F.
  6. Pipe the dough onto a lined baking tray with parchment paper of a silicon mat. For large puffs, pipe a circle 2 in. in diameter and for small puffs, pipe a circle 1 in. in diameter. Remove the sugar crumb from the fridge and cut out either a 2 in. or 1 in. circle from the dough (depending on what size puff you are making) with a cookie cutter or a shot glass, or any circular device. Place the sugar crumb dough on top of the puff dough a gently press down. Repeat for all puffs and then place in the oven.
  7. Bake puffs for 25-30 min or until lightly golden brown.puff 8
  8. Once the puffs are done baking, cool for 10 min. Take the whipped cream and manually whip the red bean or sesame paste into the cream. Place back in the fridge.
  9. Using a piping bag or plastic bag with the corned tip cut, place the cream in. For each puff, cut a small half circle with a small knife and pipe in enough cream to fill the entire puff and then cover back the small half circle up. Repeat for all puffs and enjoy immediately or place in the fridge until ready to enjoy.

The puffs can last up to 5-6 days in the refrigerator. They taste best fresh out the oven with cream so I advise snacking on some after immediately baking! I’ve made these for a few parties and have received compliments from many many people so I guarantee that this foolproof recipe will be one for the books.

 

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Lava Cake

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I realized whenever people ask what my sweet craving is, my go to is chocolate lava cake. A warm chocolate lava cake with a gooey interior  that is so rich a decadent it puts you on cloud 9; YES HANDS DOWN THAT IS WHAT I WANT. I don’t want a regular chocolate cake, I want the LAVA!!! Now, I’ve been experimenting with lava cakes, trying to see if an alternative recipe can be made. Possibly a vegan one? Or low fat? Or gluten free? It has been difficult because the science behind the cake requires eggs, butter, gluten, etc. I’m still constantly experimenting, but I have come up with a glorious vegan recipe that is out of this world! I’m so excited to share it because it’s pretty darn good.


Vegan Chocolate Lava Cake

yield: 3 lava cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. all-purpose
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. margarine or oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c. cold water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 squares of baking dark chocolate (I used Baker’s chocolate)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat  oven to 395 F. And lightly grease all all of the inside of 3 ramekins. Set them aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk sugar and water until completely dissolved. Add melted margarine (at a very slow rate and whisking rapidly to prevent chunks) OR oil. Add vinegar or lemon juice and lemon and whisk.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl.
  4. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry and fold or whisk gently until evenly incorporated. Pour batter into ramekins until 3/4 full and add 2 pieces of dark chocolate into the center of each lava cake.
  5. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes and cool on a cooling rack for 3 min. when finished baking.
  6. Dust lava cake with powdered sugar or a generous scoop of ice cream.
lava cake

Vegan Chocolate lava cake

The recipe easily serves 3 people with 3 scrumptious cakes, but I may have eaten 2 in one sitting, which I highly recommend against but I honestly could not control myself. And I’ve been craving a lava cake for so ages, so eating 2 in moderation is totally fine!

These lava cakes are the ultimate crowd pleaser and it’s difficult to fathom that they are vegan! What are you waiting for? It’s time to make this right NOW!

 

Best Ever Healthy Banana Bread (Vegan, Oil-Free, GF)

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As I strolled around my kitchen, staring at the sad image of limited items in my pantry, I wondered if I should even attempt to make banana bread. The 3 limp and dark bananas laying on my counter top had an imminent death and I wanted to make use of them because all bananas deserve to turn into something beautiful rather than end up in my backyard’s soil. I’ve successfully made healthy banana bread in the past, but I had some source of fat replacement such as Greek yogurt or applesauce. But today, I had neither. However, my food science course has taught me a lot this year, making me more knowledgeable than ever on how I can ingeniously utilize my pantry staples. And with some playing around, I somehow created my BEST ever healthy banana bread. It was so surprisingly moist and flavorful versus an expected dense and dry bread. Well, science really does wonders…


Healthy Banana Bread (Oil-Free, GF, Vegan)

yield: 1 loaf OR 3 mini loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. oat flour (I made my own; instructions below)
  • 3 ripe medium bananas
  • 1/3 c. sweetened soymilk, unsweetened may also be used, just add more of the sugar source
  • 8 dates (medjool or regular) soaked in hot water for 5 min. (use 12 dates if you used unsweetened soymilk)
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. ACV or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. To make oat flour (if necessary), blend 2 cups of oats in batches in a high speed blender. Blend until a fine flour is formed and sift all the flour! The sifting is necessary for the bread to be as flaky and smooth as possible. Discard any extra chunks left behind or blend until it’s able to sift through the sieve.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oat flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
  4. Mix the soymilk with ACV or vinegar in a small bowl. It should curdle in a minute or two.
  5. In a blender or food processor, blend the dates until a caramel paste is formed. You can add a tsp. of the hot water to help the mixture blend as well.
  6. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas and add the curdled soymilk, date paste, and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  7. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mix and stir until the batter is completely homogeneous. OPTIONAL: Add in some nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips:)
  8. In a greased loaf pan or one lined with parchment paper, pour the batter in. If using a loaf pan, bake for 50 min. If using mini loaf pans, bake for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Remove loaves from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for a minimum of 5 minutes.
banana bread

baked loaves

I honestly cannot contain my excitement over how scrumptious this banana bread is. If you take a moment and consider what your are eating, you’re basically eating a bowl of oatmeal in solid form! All the fiber, antioxidants, and minerals from the oat flour, potassium from bananas, and Vitamin B6 and B12 from the soymilk help to keep your body full of energy without any ounce of fat! It’s hard to believe, but this banana bread is actually gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and oil-free!! It’s a long pretentious list of “healthiness”, but why not make a delicious, moist cake-dessert healthy? It’s a win-win right here.

breadd

moist and flaky

And thus, I sat at my table and feasted on the best-ever healthy banana bread with a cup of cold milk. As you could tell, it was a beautiful moment.

 

Fudgy Brownie Cookies (GF, Vegan, + Refined Sugar-Free)

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Have you ever dreamed of a scrumptious, decadent, warm brownie cookie that simply melts in your mouth? Paired with a cup of milk and it almost  suddenly feels as if the world is free of problems. I think about such chocolate-y goodness on a daily basis, but the sad reality of the poor nutritional value of a brownie cookie permits me to consume only a few in a month. However, a wave of excitement recently inundated my insides when I discovered that sweet potatoes make an incredibly convincing substitute for butter and sugar. Additionally, a simple swap of all purpose flour to oat flour lowers the glycemic index of the cookies and adds a boost of fiber to a diet. All natural ingredients packed in one cookie. Let’s stop blabbing and just get to the recipe…


Fudgy Brownie Cookies (GF, Vegan, + Refined Sugar-Free)

(Scroll below recipe for step pictures)

yield: 9 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. mashed sweet potato (yellow and purple yams work as well; I just a yellow yam)
  • 1/4 c. nut butter (I recommend almond or cashew butter; peanut butter will overpower the chocolate flavor) (Here is the recipe for 1 ingredient homemade almond butter)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. oat flour
  • 2 tbsp. non-dairy milk
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. liquid sweetener (i.e. agave or maple syrup)
  • 3 tbsp. dark chocolate chips
  • chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  2. In a blender, combine the sweet potato, nut butter, liquid sweetener, and milk for about 30 seconds until mixture is smooth and evenly incorporated.
  3. Add in the oat flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder until the mixture is the consistency of cookie dough. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
  4. Wet hands to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll the dough balls and pat down slightly to form cookies on a greased cookie sheet or non-stick pan.
  5. Bake in the oven for approximately 12 min.
  6. Remove from the oven and let them set for approx. 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy with a cup of milk!

The cookies will come out of the oven a little fudgy, but I like them best when they have set for a little, hardened a bit on the outside, and pipe hot steam when broken apart. These cookies are ideal for breakfast on to go or as a snack, and will fuel your day without a doubt. Fiber from the sweet potatoes and oats ensure lasting energy, and Vitamin E and monounsaturated fats from the almond butter helps maintain heart and brain health.

Whip these cookies up, give it a try, and I can guarantee you that you may not want to return to an original cookie recipe because of how delightful and nutritious these fudgy cookies are!

ingredients

Cookie ingredients

cooies

pre-baked cookies

cokie

baked cookies

Fudgy brownie cookies

-Jamie

 

 

Matcha Mochi Donut Holes (GF + Vegan)

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It is quite exhilarating to know that mochi has been exponentially gaining popularity among the Western population, especially as a frozen yogurt topping. But mochi is a fabulous ingredient that adds great texture to many foods, so a combination of a mochi and donut couldn’t possibly go wrong, right? Indeed, the addition of mochi upgrades the texture and interior appearance of these delicate and delightful desserts.

Today I made matcha flavored donut holes simply because I’ve had a large bag of matcha powder in my pantry that I don’t use enough of, but other flavor ideas include chocolate (cocoa powder), peanut butter (PB2 powdered peanut butter), almond (almond extract), and much more. The recipe makes approximately 40 donut holes, but I must warn you, you may only end with 30 donut holes due to excess “sampling” whilst frying. Or, at least, that is what my uncontrollable self did… I actually consumed 10 donut holes within a span of 10 minutes or so, but they were far too addicting!


Matcha Mochi Donut Holes (GF + Vegan)

(Scroll below recipe for step pictures)

yield: 40 donut holes

Ingredients:

Mochi filling:

  • 1/4 c. sweet rice flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. unsweetened non-dairy milk

Donut dough:

  • 1 1/2 c. sweet rice flour
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 2 tbsp. melted coconut oil or margarine
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp matcha powder
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar

Optional: matcha glaze or sugar dust

  • glaze: 1/2 c. powdered sugar + 1 1/2 tsp. non-dairy milk (might need more or less; add slowly) + 1/2 tsp. matcha powder
  • sugar dust: 1/4 c. powdered sugar + 1 tsp. matcha powder

Directions:

  1. To make the mochi filling, combine the sweet rice flour and milk, and mix until well incorporated. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave, and microwave for another 15 until the dough has formed a sticky, clearer, bouncy dough. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sweet rice flour, baking powder, matcha powder, and sugar.
  3. Add in the milk and melted oil and fold in the mixture, until a solid dough forms. The dough should not stick to your hands. If the dough is too sticky, add some rice flour or if it is too dry, add some milk.
  4. Flour a work surface with sweet rice flour and knead the dough for approx. 30 seconds on the work surface. Roll the dough 1 in. thick log and cut approx. 3/4 in. wide pieces.
  5. Take the microwaved mochi dough and inch a small ball from the dough. Place the dough in the middle of the matcha 3/4 in. wide pieces and roll into a circular ball. Repeat for all other donut holes.
  6. Heat oil in a deep pot at 350 °F. Place a few donut holes in the pot and fry the donut holes until they are medium golden brown on the exterior. Place on a cooling rack.
  7. Test a donut hole by cutting open the middle and ensure that the interior dough is cooked all the way through. The dough on the inside should be nice and fluffy with a gooey, melty, cheese-like mochi filling.
  8. Top the donut holes with a matcha glaze or dust.
mochiko

Using Mochiko Rice Flour

dough

Rolled mochi dough log

cuts

Cut dough into desired size

rack

Cool holes on a cooling rack

 

The texture of these donut holes are a bit more firm as they form a crispier exterior and maintain a bright green fluffy interior, and I personally enjoy the texture over traditional donut holes. Traditional donut holes can often feel too oily and overglazed, so I highly recommend testing out these mochi donut holes!

-Jamie

 

 

Soft Maple Cookies (Oil-Free, GF, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free)

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I have recently been intrigued by a website called Feasting on Fruit, where the author, Natalie, creates mostly sweet but also savory recipes that uses fruit to replace the fats or the refined sugars. After watching some of her videos, I was a little skeptical of these recipes because some of the outcomes looked a little dry, but I decided to try a few of her recipes and was pleasantly surprised with how scrumptious the desserts were. It is so difficult to fathom that these desserts are good for you and made with natural ingredients. I was inspired by Natalie to make up my own recipe, and using her techniques, which often involves using a date paste as the fat and sugar, I came up with a soft maple cookie recipe that is out of this world. I highly recommend you all to check out Natalie’s site, and without further ado, let’s get baking!


Soft Maple Cookies

yield: 8-10 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 c. oat flour
  • 10 pitted dates soaked in hot water (any type of dates work)
  • 1/3 c. non- dairy milk
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. maple extract
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
  2. Place the dates in a food processor and pulse while slowly adding in the non-dairy milk. Do not add all the milk in at once because it may splash all over the place out of the food processor. Then add in the maple extract. A sticky date paste will form.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the oat flour, baking powder, chia seeds, and cornstarch until evenly incorporated.
  4. Pour the date paste into the dry mixture and mix until a dough is formed.
  5. Using wet hands, roll the dough into balls and flatten to form a small cookie. You can decorate the top with some cacao nibs or sprinkle with nuts!
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Take out and enjoy!

These cookies taste best when they’re fresh out of the oven and piping with hot steam. They won’t have a gooey consistency, but will instead taste soft, moist, and cake-y. Let’s also not forget to mention that your entire kitchen will smell like maple 🙂

Soft maple cookies

 

 

 

Macaron Recipe and Tips

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These colorful desserts are so stubborn and are known to be one of the most challenging foods to make. I have been a part of the frustrated group of people who have failed several times, but now on my 6th try, I have finally mastered the art of macaron-making and will provide insight on my previous mistakes and the tips you need to succeed.

For the macarons, I used this recipe from allrecipes.com :http://allrecipes.com/recipe/223234/macaron-french-macaroon/

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Macaron baking tips:

  1. COOL TEMPERATURE: the temperature in your home is very important. It must be cool, a minimum of 78 degrees or else the shells will not form while the macarons are sitting.
  2. USE METAL BOWLS: do not use plastic bowls because plastic bowls trap moisture and oil and we do not want added moisture to the batter
  3. BAKING SHEET OVER PARCHMENT PAPER: This one is based on opinion, but I find that the baking sheet results in less browning on the bottom and the bottom of the macaron cooks evenly
  4. CREAM OF TARTAR: I believe that the use of cream of tartar when beating egg whites is important. When I didn’t use cream of tartar, my macaron shells would never form feet. I use about 1/8 tsp.
  5. BEATING THE TRAYS: Once you pipe the macaron shells, drop the trays straight down on the counter 3 times to get rid of air bubbles
  6. SITTING TIME: Some recipes don’t call for the macaron sitting time, but I say it is so necessary. Feet, which is unique to a macaron, is the little ruffled skirt on the bottom of a macaron shell. Let the macarons sit out for 1 hour before baking so the the shells harden, but the gooey insides cook and bubble out to form the feet.
  7. GEL FOOD COLORING: Use gel food coloring instead of liquid food coloring so you don’t add extra moisture into the batter.

Take these tips into account the next time you make macarons, and you wont be spending $2 per macaron anymore!

-Jamie