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.
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:
- 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.
- Pour 3 tbsp hot heavy cream over 4 tbsp chocolate chips to form a ganache for layers of texture. Ganache was drizzled on brownies.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
Honestly, I’m just drooling over here because I made brownies that ARE HEALTHY and GLUTEN FREE??? How is that even possible? I mean fats and eggs make a brownie good; they give it texture. A plant based one honestly sounds unappealing. I honestly am very impressed with my experimentation because I have failed numerous times attempting to make healthy dessert. Somehow, this turned out to be a miracle and it somehow worked. My mind is blown and I want you all to try these brownies some time!!! I love chewy brownies, so I used my knowledge of food science to make the brownies quite chewy. The chewiness comes from the maple syrup used, and gives the brownies amazing texture.
The only downside to these brownies was that I did used granulated sugar. If I attempt making these with a non-refined sugar, I will post an updated recipe. I was hoping maybe dates could be use instead, but I have yet to test that out.
Healthy Chewy Brownies (GF, Vegan, Low Fat)
yield: 8 x 8 pan brownies
- 3/4 c. oat flour (I used homemade; flour must be very fine)
- pinch salt
- 1/4 cocoa powder
- 1/3 c. + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp instant coffee powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup + 1 tbsp warm water mixed together
- 2 tbsp flax meal + 1 tbsp water mixed together
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp chopped nuts (almonds OR walnuts) OPTIONAL
- 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips OPTIONAL
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Whisk until combined, and then add the coffee powder. Whisk to combine.
- In a medium bowl, add the granulated sugar, syrup and water mixture, flax and water mixture, and vanilla. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
- Pour the dry mixture into the wet bowl in 2 or 3 batches. Whisk gently but do not overmix the batter. Toss in the nuts and chocolate chips, if applicable, and stir in.
- Pour batter into a 8 x 8 baking pan and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until baked completely.
- Take the brownies out and cool for approximately 10 minutes. Dust with some espresso powder, sugar, or ganache and enjoy!
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
- 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)
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
- In a blender, combine the sweet potato, nut butter, liquid sweetener, and milk for about 30 seconds until mixture is smooth and evenly incorporated.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 12 min.
- 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!
Fudgy brownie cookies
Eating Raw was something I always chose to steer clear of, like if you give me zucchini noodles, please cook them…
Because of this, I didn’t like to try raw recipes because I would always prefer the cooked version. However, I recently made raw vegan brownies and they’re superbly delicious along with many other adjectives: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, you name it! The natural sweetness comes from dates, which is a key ingredient in healthy and vegan cooking and baking. Then, the base is ground almonds (almond flour), which is gluten-free, and contains monounsaturated fat which helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases. This swap makes the brownies raw because you can eat almond flour, but you must heat all-purpose flour before it can be eaten. Lastly, the chocolate-y goodness comes from cocoa powder, which is low in fat and calories as compared to actual chocolate. I then topped the brownies with an almond butter ganache, and I’m just like, “What’s not to love about this dessert?”
3 Ingredient Raw Vegan Brownies w/ almond chocolate ganache (yields 6 large brownies)
- 1 c. almond flour
- 10 pitted dates (I used medjool but any type works)
- 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp almond milk or water to make batter stick together better (optional)
- 2 tbsp. almond milk
- 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp almond butter + more for drizzle
- Throw dates into a blender and blend until the mixture resembles caramel.
- Combine almond flour and cocoa together in a large bowl.
- Add all the date mixture in and combine/kneed with your hand. Add some type of liquid (I used almond milk) if the batter is not coming together enough or if you like gooier brownies. (The reason I added a liquid was because the dates acts as the binding agent, but during my first try, I used enough dates to bind the brownies together and they were too sweet. So I cut back on the dates and simply used a different binding agent.
- Place the mixture into a square pan lined with parchment paper and press down until brownies are about 1 in. thick. Place in the fridge for about 5 min.
- In a small bowl, microwave almond milk for 30 seconds.
- Add the chocolate chips and almond butter and let the bowl sit for about a minute. After a minute, stir with a spoon until a ganache is formed.
- Take the brownies out of the fridge and pour ganache on. Place brownies in the fridge for about 10 min. or until ganache is cooled.
- Take the brownies out and drizzle with microwaved (makes it easier to drizzle) almond butter.
Seriously, these brownies are too good. TRY THEM. You won’t regret it.
Nutella makes everything better, right? So it only felt necessary for me to add nutella to my banana bread (which I was making since the bananas in the kitchen were on the verge of turning black). I really like banana bread but I really LOVE banana nutella bread. Also, this banana bread is extremely moist but it is also healthier since I replaced 1/3 of the butter with greek yogurt. Due to the richness of greek yogurt, it is a great substitute for oil/fats.
Banana bread with Nutella Swirl:
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- 6 tablespoons softened butter
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup greek yogurt (I used Fage brand)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup Nutella
1. Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork. Then add butter, eggs, greek yogurt, and vanilla extract.
2. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients in with the wet in separate batches. Do not overmix or else the batter will get too tough.
3. Melt the nutella in the microwave for 25 seconds. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and pour half of the batter into it. Add half of the nutella over the top and swirl with a knife. Add the remaining batter and top with the remianing nutella and swirl.
4. Bake for about 45-55 minutes. At about the last ten minutes of baking, keep an eye on the bread, occasionally testing it with a knife to make sure it is baked completely through.
5. Last step: Share it with your friends and family, cause if I did not share, I would’ve eaten the whole thing!
Red bean filling
“Ugh, Where is the waffle iron?” I yell, as I scramble around the kitchen searching for the waffle iron. I was seriously craving waffles today, not pancakes, but waffles. The Hungry Jack pancake mix stared at me. Ugh, fine… I’ll just have to make pancakes. However, I found an iron that had triangular molds in the middle. I didn’t know what it was, I have never seen it before, what was it doing in my house?!?! Well, it’ll function the same as a waffle iron. I mixed up the pancake mix and to spice it up, filled the inside with a nutella-peanut butter mixture( one batch) and the other batch with a red bean paste. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it would be a success or a hot mess. Thankfully, they came out nice and clean. The outside was a bit crispy and the inside was light and fluffy. The nutella just oozes our and it looks and tastes irresistable. I am actually glad I couldn’t find my waffle iron because this discovery is amazing! Honestly, I’m pretty sure other people have done this before, but I don’t know about it
Nutella-peanut butter filling
Red bean filling
so I’ll just give myself a pat on the back for creating these amazing triangular snacks.
I am an avid fan of homemade foods. The benefits are endless including that you’ll save big bucks, it’ll most likely be healthier, and you can “customize” the food to suit your taste buds. Today, I opened a bag of chocolates and found a liquid mess! The chocolates had melted (they just couldn’t stand the Texas heat!) I also had a box of strawberries in my fridge so I decided to make chocolate covered strawberries.
1. I washed the strawberries and dried them.
2. Saved myself time by not having to melt the chocolate! So, I pulsed some almonds in the food processor into crumbs and laid them in a baking pan.
3. Coat the strawberries in the chocolate.
4. Roll them around in the crushed almonds and lay them on wax paper.
5. Refrigerate the and TADA! Enjoy!!!
Chocolate covered strawberries range from about $2-3 each in grocery stores. They are extremely overpriced since they pick out the largest ones and that strawberries spoil easily. However, I made a bunch of strawberries for around $4! These are great for presents and parties and they are so professional looking! I am always trying to home make as many foods as possible. It is really worth the time and extremely rewarding.