Dolci di Noci (4 Ingredient, Gluten Free Cookies)

food

Walnuts are one of my least favorite nuts because they are pretty bitter unlike almonds, not very versatile. Search “almond recipes” and search engines will spit out tens of thousands of recipes whereas walnut recipes fail to yield as many. Walnuts are mainly used as an add-on in dishes such as brownies, salads, or crumbles, but if you are sitting at home with a giant 2 lb. bag of walnuts from a wholesaler, scratching your head not knowing what to do with it, you are in the right place because today we are making walnuts the star ingredient in Dolci di Noci. Dolci di Noci is a walnut cookie from Southern Italy that contains no glutinous product. The traditional recipe calls for only 3 ingredients: walnuts, eggs, and lots of sugar, but I have a reduced-sugar alternative recipe that is just as flavorful and ideal for an on-the-go snack.

Additionally, I decorated the cookies with a chocolate dip, an optional step that nonetheless elevates the presentation and flavor of the cookies. Enough with the rambling and on to the recipe….


Dolci di Noci

yield: 10-12 cookies (1-1.5 in. diameter)

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 c. coarsely ground walnuts (in food processor)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. chocolate chips for coating (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 355 F and prepare a greased cookie sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients together until a dough-like mixture forms. Dough should be semi-sticky.
  3. Lightly wet hands and roll dough into 1-1.5 in. diameter balls. Place on cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 min.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 min before eating or for 15-20 min before dipping in chocolate.
  5. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips in a microwave and dip half of the cookies into the chocolate. Place on a non-stick sheet to cool.

Place cookies in an airtight container and store up to 1 week. Cookies can be eaten cold or microwaved (if it does not have chocolate). These dolci di noci have become a favorite snack or breakfast of mine and are beneficial to health because walnuts decrease gut inflammation, fight against infections, and help lower blood pressure levels. Additionally, the cookies follow ketogenic guidelines for anyone who may be testing the ketogenic diet out.

 

NutritionLabel

 

 

Chickpea Blondies (GF)

food, healthy

It is so crazy that food and health geeks have discovered that the use of legumes in desserts is a tasty and healthy replacement for flour and oils. While all-purpose flour has little nutrition value, beans pack protein, Vitamin B-6, and potassium, perfect for all types of people, especially. If you shop smart, chickpeas are actually ridiculously cheap. At my local grocery store, the chickpeas are $1 for a 15 oz. can or $1 for a 16 oz. bag of dried chickpeas. Dried chickpeas are much cheaper for the amount you are getting so I do opt for the dried type. The recipe I made is not vegan, but I have included a substitution to where it can be made vegan.

The cons about dried chickpeas are that you must soak them and boil them, but with planning ahead, dried chickpeas have worked fine for me.

So how do I soak chickpeas? I have a water boiler that boils water in a mi. ute so I first wash the dried chickpeas under running water, then pour boiling water over the chickpeas and allow it to soak for at least 4 hours. The chickpeas are then good to go, so very little preparation is required. The longer you soak, the better, but do not soak past 24 hours otherwise the chickpeas will sprout.

chickpea-bars2.jpg


Chickpea Blondies

yield: 14-16 bars squares (baked in a 9 x 12 pan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. cooked chickpeas
  • 1/3 c. almond butter
  • 1 large egg OR 1 flax egg for vegan option (flax egg= 1 tbsp. ground flax/chia + 3 tbsp. water)
  • 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. liquid sweetener
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. dark chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Grease pan or line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Using paper towels or a clean dishcloth, dry the chickpeas and place into a food processor along with all other ingredients except the chocolate chips.
  3. Pulse the mixture until it is creamy and fully incorporated.
  4. Pour in the chocolate chips and pulse for 5 seconds until combined.
  5. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes. Once out of the oven, cool for 10 minutes before cutting in and enjoying the goodness!

Bars are best when fresh out of the oven and served with a glass of cold milk. Store in an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Please feel free to make the vegan option. I personally like the non-vegan version better because it was a bit fluffier, but the vegan one is delicious as well. It is more dense and more fudgy.

NutritionLabel (1)

 

 

 

 

Vegan Banana Bread Bars (GF + Oil-Free)

food

As I continue with my journey to lower my gluten intake to ease GI discomfort, I find that my favorite carb alternative is oats. Many health gurus or bloggers utilize almond and coconut flour, but as a college student, I prefer to ball on a budget and almond and coconut flour do not come cheap! Oats on the other hand are extremely cheap whether you buy in bulk or pre-packaged, I can purchase rolled oats for about 80 cents to 1 dollar per pound.

I’ve baked several desserts and snacks using oat flour, but still struggle to process the oats into a fine flour, which is fine with me because I do enjoy the texture of the bigger oat granules in the desserts. However, I would like to make really fine oat flour so that I can experiment making yeast breads or other savory recipes. If anyone has tips on processing fine oat flour please let me know! It seems that no matter how long I process the oats, they do not turn into a fine flour.

Nonetheless, I am here today to introduce one of my new favorite recipes, Banana Bread Bars!! So healthy and delicious, and I could go on forever about how great these gems are. The best part is that these were made entirely in a food processor, but if you don’t have a food processor, feel free to do it by hand or use a blender. I did make them into bite size bars but feel free to bake it in a loaf pan… I just wanted to reduce the bake time from 55 minutes to 30.

DSC01550


Vegan Banana Bread Bars

yield: 12 bars

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe medium bananas
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar (any sugar will work: granulated white sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, etc.)
  • 2 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c. nut/seed butter (I used peanut butter and could not taste the peanut flavor at all)
  • 2 tbsp. ground flax/chia seeds + 1/3 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice or other acidic
  • 1/3 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 9 baking pan and set aside.
  2. Combine flax/chia and water to make a vegan egg. Set aside for at least 2 min.
  3. Place 2 c. of rolled oats in the food process and process for 45 seconds, until the oat flour forms. It does not need to be finely ground. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Set aside the other 1/2 c. of oats for later use.
  4. Place the ripe bananas in the food processor and process until smooth. Add in the granulated sugar, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nut butter, chia/flax mix, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Process mix until fully combined. Add in chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, and 1/2 c. rolled oats and pulse for 5-10 seconds until mix is combined.
  5. Pour into the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Once removed from oven, cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before serving.

Note: I do not have a huge sweet tooth and prefer that my desserts are on the less sugary side. In the recipe, I use 1/4 c. sugar and felt that the chocolate chips would make up for the rest of the sugar. I tested this recipe using 1/3 c. of sugar and felt it was too sugary for me but please feel free to adjust your own sugar levels based on your liking! For reference, using 1/3 c. of sugar felt like eating a store-bought vanilla cupcake. There is so much sweetness from the bananas and chocolate chips that I felt 1/4 c. would suffice.

These bars are ideal for breakfast or as a snack! It is basically a banana oatmeal baked into a square and contains ingredients that help lower cholesterol, blood levels, and saturated fat intake. Bars can last up to 2 weeks in an air tight container in the fridge.

Crab Rangoon Bombs

food

Crab rangoons are my weakness…. There is nothing better than cheesy, ooey goodness inside a crispy fried dough. It is certainly a cheat food because all that saturated fat should only be consumed once in a while. I don’t typically make them at home because I don’t like to fry at home, so I decided to make a baked version of crab rangoons in not wonton wrappers, but in a flaky crescent dough. I experimented with biscuit dough, but preferred the texture of crescent dough.

dsc00051.jpg

BEWARE. These are extremely addicting and I could not stop eating these after I made them. Please have friends around so they can eat some before you eat them all!!


Crab Rangoon Bombs

yield: 10 bombs

Ingredients:

  • 1 can crescent dough
  • 6 oz. chopped imitations crab meat
  • 6 oz. softened full-fat cream cheese or neufchatel
  • 1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 tbsp. chopped green onions
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Furikake or Japanese rice seasoning for garnishing (optional, but highly recommend)
  • 1 beaten egg or 1 tsp. melted butter for egg/butter wash (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, crab meat, mozzarella, green onions, 1 tbsp Furikake, and chopped green onions. Set the bowl aside.
  2. Roll out the crescent dough and press on the perforated lines so that the dough is one entire piece of dough. Cut the dough into 10 equal squares and set aside.
  3. Spoon 1 1/2-2 tbsp. of filling into the crescent dough and seal edges in the center so that you have a ball in your hand. Continue until all 10 are completely stuffed.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. and spray a baking pan with non-stick spray.
  5. Optional: Use a pastry brush and brush the egg wash or melted butter on the balls and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp. of Furikake seasoning.
  6. Place bombs onto the baking sheet, about 1 1/2 in. apart since they will expand. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before eating.

The bombs taste best when fresh out of the oven; when the cheese is gooey and the crust is flaky and warm. Beware of burning your tongue though! I may or may not have waited long enough for them to slightly cool and may have regretted my decision….

Savory Hotteok (Korean Stuffed Pancake)

food

Hotteok is pretty much what dreams are made of: yeast dough stuffed with sweet or savory filling. It is very similar to pastries of other cuisines such as xian bing’s in Chinese cooking or paratha in Indian cooking, and the list goes on. The traditional filling is brown sugar and walnuts, but I wanted to do something different and stuff it with ingredients that I have not seen anyone try before. In my version of hotteok, I stuffed them with a combination of chicken, corn, and mozzarella cheese. Corn and cheese are very common in Asian baking, so I wanted to incorporate that into the hotteok.

Tips for making hotteok:

  • Stuff as much stuffing into the center without breaking the dough. 2-3 tbsp. of filling is best for the hotteok, but can be difficult to do without breaking the dough. To prevent this, roll the dough so that the edges are thinner than the center. Because the dough is stretchy, you can stretch the brim of the hotteok dough to the middle.
  • Hotteok seal becoming undone when cooking. When making the dough, seal the dough tightly and let the formed hotteok set for 20 min. before cooking
  • Burnt outside, raw dough inside. The flame of cooking must be in between low/middle with a lid on the pan. Flip the hotteok whenever a side has been browned. Do not walk away from pan!

Savory Hotteok (Korean Stuffed Pancake)

yield: 9 pancakes

Ingredients:

Dough (from Houseofnasheats.com):

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1  c. frozen corn
  • 1 c. chopped cooked chicken meat (I used a rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese or mozzarella cheese cut into cubes
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. sticky soy sauce

Directions:

  1.  In a large bowl, stir together yeast, sugar, lukewarm water, and oil. Let the mixture sit for 8 min until yeast activates.
  2. Sift in the flour and salt and combine and mix. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until fully incorporated and cover the dough with a damp towel. Set the dough in a warm area around 75-80 degrees to let the dough double in size.
  3. In the meantime, lightly oil a pan with oil spray or vegetable oil and saute the frozen corn until thawed, add chicken and sticky soy sauce. Saute on medium heat for about 5 min. Set aside to cool in a bowl.
  4. Punch the risen dough, and then cover and let sit for another 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 minutes, lightly flour a surface and knead the dough for about 30 seconds and cut into 9 even pieces. Into the cooled corn and chicken mix, add mozzarella cheese and combine.
  6. Using hands or a rolling pin, roll the dough out until about 3-4 in. in diameter with the outer edges thinner than the middle. Add in 3 tbsp. of filling (make sure to pack it in there otherwise pancakes will turn out to be mainly dough). This may be difficult without breaking the dough, but becomes easier with practice. Pull in the edges into the center and seal tightly. Flatten the dough into a pancake and set aside on a floured surface to allow to rise while you make the other pancakes.
  7. After all pancakes have been formed, let them sit for 10 min. for a last rising.
  8. On low-medium heat, lightly grease a pan and wait until pan is completely hot. Add in the pancakes (about 3 at a time) and cover with a lid. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on the first side or until golden brown, and then flip over to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove pancakes and repeat for all others.
  9. Eat hotteok fresh out the pan when cheese is nice and gooey.

Note: the Pancakes freeze extremely well. I recommend cooking them and then freezing some if you cannot finish them within the next 5 days. You can microwave, pan fry, toast, or bake them out of the freezer.

This is an easy recipe that requires a bit more time from dough making. I highly recommend making them on a weekend as a stress reliever!

Low-Fat Mandarin Orange Yogurt Cake

food, Uncategorized

A light and fluffy cake so tangy and zesty that you’ll want to eat all the time. The great thing about this recipe is that you can utilize all parts of the orange: juice, zest, and pulp, although I barely used any of the pulp. However, after I extracted some of the mandarin juice, I ended up eating the remains of the orange since food waste is not an option!

I used mandarin oranges for this recipe but feel free to use any other oranges such as navel, cara cara oranges, etc.

DSC01525


Low-Fat Mandarin Orange Yogurt Cake

yield: 1 (9 x 5) loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c.  whole milk yogurt + 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp. mandarin orange zest
  • 2 tbsp. mandarin orange juice
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/3 c. chopped walnuts

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. mandarin orange juice

Directions:

  1. Grease loaf pan or line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg. Add in sugar and poppy seeds and combine well. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, oil, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the dry mixture into the wet in 3 batches and combine well. Add in the chopped walnuts and bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes, until brown on top and toothpick comes out of the batter clean.DSC01496DSC01500
  5. Let loaf cool on a cooling rack for approx. 30 min before putting the glaze on + top with additional zest. Or you can be like me- I skipped the glaze because I could not wait and I went ahead and ate the loaf fresh out of the oven.

The bread lasts in the fridge up to 2 weeks and freezes extremely well. Feel free to make smaller servings such as muffins. I haven’t tried it yet but am certain they will turn out delicious as well.

 

 

Cheesy Cream & Onion Pinwheels

food

One of my favorite things to make for parties or hang-outs are pinwheels, made from canned biscuit or croissant dough. I prefer croissant dough because it is more flaky, but both are great options. You can put anything into your pinwheels, from cheese, meats, to nutella and nut spreads… it’s one of those recipes where you can’t go wrong. For a movie night with my friends, I decided to make a cream and onion filling since I really need to grocery shop and some of my friends are vegetarian. As always, the recipe was divine and I am excited to share it with you all!

DSC00030


Cheesy Cream & Onion Pinwheels

yield: 10-12 pinwheels

Ingredients:

  • 1 can croissant dough
  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese (1/2 of a whole bar)
  • 1/3 c. shredded cheese of choice (I used mozzarella)
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 3 slices turkey/ham
  • 1/4 c. chopped caramelized or browned onions
  • chopped green onions for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. Open the can or croissant dough and unroll the entire dough without breaking off at any of the perforated points. Seal the perforated lines together so that the dough is one complete sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except turkey/ham and use a spoon to spread onto the entire dough.
  4. Lay the deli meat on top of the spread.
  5. Roll up the dough tightly and slice into 1 cm. thick pieces. DSC00022
  6. Place onto the cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Once done baking, let it cool for 5 minutes and serve immediately. I served them with a side of honey dijon mustard but the pinwheel have tons of flavor on its own.

These are beyond delicious and so simple to make. I can honestly eat them all in one sitting as I watch Netflix, but this is a very decadent treat that should be eaten on special occasions only! Feel free to double or triple the recipe for mass production.

 

Traveling in Turkey: Ephesus

travel, winter

It is surreal to admit to myself that I am in Turkey- a country in the Middle East (Never thought I’d be here), a country in both Europe and Asia, and a country so full and rich of history that I find myself living in an AP World History textbook. History was never my strong subject, but visiting the places we learned of make me want to read so much more about it.

To begin, I am in Turkey in the Winter for a few reasons: I am more free than I am in the Summer, travelling to Turkey in Winter is cheaper since it is not prime season, and there are a lot less tourists here.. I try to avoid tourists as much as I can, and oh the irony for myself being a tourist! Yes, but I leave minimal trace behind and I keep to myself, watching the culture around me rather than chasing destination hot spots and snapping photos non-stop.

With constant blizzards and grey skies, I finally visited a place that was blessed with a cloudy blue sky and shining sun: Ephesus. In all honesty, not many people know of Ephesus because these ruins are overshadowed by the Acropolis of Athens or Rhodes. When people think of Turkey, “ruins” just don’t quite come in mind… mainly Hagia Sophia does. However, Ephesus is absolutely worth the drive. It lies in Southwest Turkey, about a 9 hr. drive from Istanbul, and is home to structures such as the Temple of Artemis and the Library of Celsus. The entire site is breathtaking and magnificent since many of the ruins remain intact, unlike the site of Troy (Troia), which is also in Turkey.

The overall view at Ephesus is overwhelming, and time is a factor to consider. I recommend reading into its main sites and figuring out which ones you would like to focus on. Ephesus Breeze gives a detailed summary of the site and what you may expect to see. It is important to note that there are many stray cats around the site. However, they will not bother you as long as you do the same.

There is an admission office outside or Ephesus where you may purchase admission tickets. As of January 2019, the admission fees are as followed:

  • Ephesus: 60 Turkish Lira
  • Basilica of St. John: 15 Turkish Lira
  • Museum of Ephesus: 15 Turkish Lira

I purchased the first ticket for 60 TL and was able to visit the majority of the sites. I did not feel the need to spend any additional money for the other sites as the most important locations like the library and the amphitheater were included in the Ephesus fee of 60 TL. The ticket looked like:

dsc01430-e1548050296298.jpg

Ephesus entrance ticket

In terms of transportation, rather than immediately driving South to Ephesus from Istanbul, I recommend planning a round trip around Turkey beginning in Istanbul and visiting Ephesus on the way back to Istanbul. A complete round trip of Turkey would include Istanbul to Ankara (can visit Ataturk Mausoleum), to Nevsehir (to visit Cappadocia), to Konya (visit Mevlana Museum), to Denizli (visit Pamukkale), to Ephesus in Selcuk, then to Turkey. A detailed map of a round trip or Turkey is shown below:

Image result for cappadocia in turkey map

However, if time does not permit for such a trip, I still highly recommend squeezing Ephesus into your trip for it is relatively close to Pamukkale, and you would be able to visit both places within a day.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Two-Tone Swiss Roll

food

It was a Saturday morning and thick cumulus clouds rolled above the city. Don’t typically do too much on a Saturday. Mostly consists of journaling, listening to music, studying, walking around, peeping into the fridge several times, and thinking I should hit the gym without ever going. Wanted to challenge myself in the kitchen and knew that whether it was a fail or success, I’d eat it anyways because I eat just about anything. Been wanting to make a roll cake but never actually had the drive since it seemed so damn complicated but it had begun to pour outside so rather than laying in bed and letting R&B music give me the feels, I took out flour, sugar, chocolate, and eggs and got to mixing.

Crap.

I was missing ingredients, but whatever, my ingenuity will pave the way through this dessert. Also, I had already begun so there is no turning back. I knew that I wanted to work with chocolate and vanilla, and that the cake had to be sponge-like, so a meringue was a must. Didn’t have heavy cream to make a chocolate ganache so I ended up making a wannabe ganache using cream cheese and it somehow tasted… better than a ganache? (inserts side look emojis), if you know you know… So how did I cluelessly make a successful roll cake? Here are some important tips to know:

Tips:

  1. Let the cake cool completely before rolling to prevent cracking.
  2. Set the roll cake in fridge for at least an hour before serving.
  3. Meringue must reach stiff peaks.
  4. A piping bag helps with smooth texture.

Seems like you’re ready to bake so let’s get to the recipe

IMG_4164_Facetune_23-09-2018-12-27-27


Two-Tone Swiss Roll

yield: 10 inch roll

ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c. 2% or whole milk
  • 2/3 c. cake flour (make your own HERE)
  • 1/4 c.  granulated sugar

Chocolate mix:

  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk

For ganache:

  • 1/3 stick of 8 oz. cream cheese (approximately) (softened)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Tools needed:

  • piping bag OR sandwich bag
  • rectangular cake pan or cookie sheet (I used 9 x 9 x 2 inches)
  • parchment paper
  • sifter

Directions:

  1. Line cake pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 345F.
  2. In a large bowl whisk egg yolks, 4 tbsp. sugar, and vanilla extract together.
  3. Add in vegetable oil and milk and whisk until combined. Then sift in all the cake flour and quickly whisk together.
  4. In a medium glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and gradually add in sugar until stiff peaks form.
  5. Using a spatula, transfer the egg whites into the yolk mixture in 4 batches and fold in until evenly incorporated. Do not deflate the egg white, be very careful.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and milk until a viscous chocolate paste forms.
  7. Transfer half of the batter into the medium bowl and fold in the chocolate paste.
  8. Pour the white mixture into the cake pan and pour the chocolate mixture into a piping bag. Pipe the chocolate mixture on top of the white mixture. I like to pipe in strips and making sure the chocolate mixture completely covers the white mixture.
  9. Bake in the oven for 22-25 minutes.
  10. Microwave the cream cheese and butter for 30 seconds. Add the chocolate chips. The butter and cream should be hot enough to melt all the chocolate. If not, microwave the mixture for about 10 seconds.
  11. Once the cake has finished baking, let it cool at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes.
  12. To assemble the cake, make sure the chocolate side is facing the bottom and spread the ganache on the white portion of the cake. Use the parchment paper to roll the cake tightly. Once rolled, seal the sides of the parchment paper up like a tootsie roll and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
  13. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate shavings, or other sweet delicacies.

And that was my Saturday summed up in this recipe post.

Enjoy!

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.

_DSC0344

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?