Category Archives: Snacks

Healthy Tropical Bars (Raw, GF, Vegan) for #gradstudentbloggers

Your grad/undergrad student bloggers are back this week! Our mission: creating awesome recipes for the On-the-Go Student!

Grad Undergrad Student Bloggers Icon Small

Joining us this week: Bec from Daisy and the Fox, Nicole from PicNic, Shelley from Bacon Egg Cheese(cake), and Uru from Go Bake Yourself! (Zainab from Blahnik Baker is off doing crazy epic grad student things this week, but we’ve included her interview anyway.) Don’t forget to check out these lovely ladies’ blogs. (Want to learn more about these fabulous bloggers? Read Week 1′s interview here!)

But first, we asked our super multi-talented bloggers a few fun questions about how they deal with full-time school AND blogging! Here’s what they said:

Week 2 Interview Round-up

1. Describe your grad/undergrad student blogger life in three words:

Ala: You’re kidding…right?

Bec: Busy, fun, inspired

Nicole: Crazy, Chaotic, Fulfilling

Shelley: Procrastinating, fun, UGHHH

Uru: Party. Study. Sleepless.

Zainab: Need. More. Hours.

2. Tell us a fun, unique fact that not many people may know about you!

Ala: I just ran my first half-marathon at Disneyland at the end of last month in 2 hours and 9 minutes! I quite literally ate dessert every day (including a buttload of ice cream) in lieu of “training”: I would run about once every other week and did 13.1 miles cold turkey each time. Dumb luck, but I guess it worked!

Bec: I am completely and totally smitten for kittens dogs! The moment I see one on the street I literally pounce and smother them in sweet nothings and pats. I have a pinterest animal bored, and it is 100% bombarded with dog pictures, cause ya know… damn they’re so cute.

Nicole: People tell me that I should enter a cooking competition on TV – like MasterChef, but I am TERRIFED of ever being on TV for even 30 seconds!

Shelley: I’m super obsessed with Apartment Therapy, and it’s kinda unhealthy/weird because I a) cannot afford the nice stuff because I’m a broke grad student and b) I’m way too lazy for cool DIY projects, which pretty much make up like half of their content…

Uru: Aaah, I always feel affronted by this question, it catches me off guard! But ok, if I had to say I have a ‘secret’-ish talent, it would be that I actually have an awesome voice! I just never sing because I am super shy but I am a graded singer and in the shower, I feel a bit like Beyonce ;)

Zainab: Hmmm, I don’t really like sweets. I love baking- the process, taking pictures and sharing recipes with my family but most times I don’t eat what I make beyond the taste bite. I’m a savory girl.

There is something undeniably primal, rough, and RAW about grad student life…I bet you can see where this is headed, eh? #punderful!


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Last time for the #gradstudentbloggers series, I shared one of my very favorite raw recipes–and now I’m back to haunt y’all with a second round of it! Thankfully, raw desserts and snacks are pretty much my raison d’etre, which is just a sophistimacated grad student way of saying they are freakingamaziballsdelish.

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Healthy No-Bake Tropical Coconut Applesauce Bars gif

Going no-bake is also the best way to save time when it comes to making addicting, time-and-time-again snacks for this crazy lifestyle we call Grad Student Blogger Insanity.

Also, the option of going utensil-free and getting my hands right there in the pan is appealing. Probably because I can’t afford real utensils anymore.

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I love the ease and flexibility with which this recipe comes together, because you can use pretty much anything sitting in your impoverished student pantry to make these bars.

Can’t afford almond butter? Not a problem: go for peanut butter. Want to buy your applesauce in bulk at Costco so you can eat these for a month straight? Go for it, you earned it.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the star ingredients I used:Healthy No-Bake Tropical Coconut Applesauce Bars 15--090314

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These are so quick to whip together and easy to snatch up as a post-workout/pre-hell snack, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate being an on-the-go grad student. They taste like tiny morsels of apple pie rolled into one delicious, slightly gooey snack. If you’re looking for a great time-saving vegan/raw/GF recipe, look no further!

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Note: As I’m typing this post, I’m sitting in the Dr. Seuss special collections/archives reading the original handwritten memo by Dr. Seuss himself for his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. I almost got up and did a Seussian jig when I realized I was in the presence of his handwriting. Also, he signs his name in blue crayon. Just saying.



Healthy No-Bake Tropical Coconut Applesauce Bars (Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan-Friendly)

If you love coconut and the taste of the tropics with a healthy twist, you're going to love the fresh flavors in this no-bake bar! Absolutely guilt-free with a smattering of dates, coconut, and applesauce. Great for on-the-go!


  • 1 cup dates, pitted (any variety--I used Deglet Noir)
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt (or use melted coconut oil to keep it vegan)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut


  1. Line a 9x5-inch baking pan with foil and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, blend dates until they begin to form a pasta, scraping down sides as necessary. Add coconut milk, applesauce, nuts, peanut butter and yogurt (or coconut oil) and blend until completely smooth.
  3. Add oats and shredded coconut, and pulse processor 4-5 times, so that oats become incorporated into the mixture. Add more oats as needed if your mixture is still too wet.
  4. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pan. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours before cutting into bars and enjoying! These will be fairly sticky/crumbly, so they are best served in small pieces.

 Show our #gradstudentbloggers and #undergradstudentbloggers your support! Check out the whole list of featured Starving Student recipes now:

Blackberry Slice via PicNic

Salted Caramel Popcorn Trail Mix Bars via Daisy and the Fox

Lemon Bars via Go Bake Yourself

Healthy Tropical Bars (Raw, Vegan) via Wallflour Girl

Omelette Sandwich via Bacon Egg Cheese(cake)

Want to join, or know a university food blogger who would? We would love to have you: email Ala at to sign up! 

The #gradstudentblogger and #undergradstudentblogger series showcases the lives and talent of insanely busy food bloggers from across all stages of their higher education pathway. Thank you for joining us, and we hope to see you again in two weeks!


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars, Blogger Series, Snacks

Life Updates and a KIND Snacks Giveaway

This giveaway is sponsored by KIND Snacks. I received a sample box for review purposes but was not financially compensated for this post. And as always, these opinions are 110% my own!

A billion and one things have been all kinds of crazy here lately. Can you tell?

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No, perhaps not–but it’s been all sorts of insanity! This is my utterly grateful recovery post. This month has been one green light to the next, racking up my traveling miles and teleporting from one zany distance to the next. At one point, I even coughed up a whopping $40 for an Uber trip that got me nothing but terrible traffic and one ballsy driver who asked me if I was single–and get this, he asked me in the first 15 minutes of our trip while I was sitting in the front seat. 

Moral of the story: never sit in the front seat while riding a taxi service, no matter how casual it seems.

Moral #2: 6 miles never feels longer than when you are awkwardly stuck in an enclosed vehicle with a stranger who wants to know your relationship status right off the bat.

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And that, my friends, is why I am so glad THESE came. I now dub thee “Sanity Keeper Bars,” a.k.a. KIND Snacks. Raise your hand if you love ‘em as much as I do!

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When the wonderful rep K got in touch with me about sampling, reviewing, and giving away KIND bars on my blog, I jumped three feet in the air and immediately tagged in. I’d consumed plenty of KIND bars before the sampler box, but mostly on campus where the vending machine selection is limited to Almond Cranberry (a very good choice–but by no means a gateway to the snackers’ haven that I was about to receive).

And I couldn’t have asked for better timing: what with one of the most insanely pressing, time-crunched months this year, and several unexpected events to shake things up in my personal life, I can hardly find time to haul myself into the kitchen these days (sorry, abandoned oven!), much less prep something satisfying for myself to gnaw on.

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Luckily, that’s where this box kicked in! K from KIND sent me an awesome sample: 3 huge packs of granola, a handful of snack squares, and a variety of about 8 assorted bars in every flavor I had wanted to try. #starvinggradstudent’s paradise? I think so.

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I polished off the majority of these snacks on my post-run, pre-work days, when I needed to refuel but didn’t have time for any sort of fancy knifework or yogurt-spooning. And let me tell you know: they are such a treat after a workout! I’m supposed to be working towards my very first half-marathon at the end of this month (haven’t ran outdoors since mid-July though, oops…) and these bars are helping me stay in tip-top shape. Or so I’d gladly believe! They are, however, definitely keeping me and my on-the-go lifestyle sane. So what’s the verdict, you ask?

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Well, while I loved every single bar that came my way, my Top Three Favorite Sampled KIND Bars were…

#3: Almond and Coconut

It tasted like Hawaii had up and thrown a party in my mouth. Uh-may-zing! This is probably the bar I could eat most frequently without ever getting tired of it. It’s just light & refreshing enough with a sweet zap of coconut flavor to brighten up my day after a workout!

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#2: Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt

I have been obsessed with salty&sweet lately, so it’s no surprise I fell for these bars right away–and fell hard. By the time I’d finished this bar (in about 7.25 seconds, mind you), I was gnawing on my fingers trying to imagine that there was still more of this bar left for consumption. So yeah, I loved the dark chocolate and sea salt combo loads! And finally…

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#1: Caramel Almond and Sea Salt

Did I mention I love sea salt? No, but seriously. If you are at all a fan of salted caramel, you will love this bar. In other words, I am asking you here and now if you are a human being. Because salted caramel, folks. Please do not try and convince me that it could be anything other than a GREAT BAR.

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So while I step aside and attempt to recover from these past few cray-cray weeks (thankfully, I still have quite a bit of granola left with which to nourish myself–hooray!), I’m going to let you enter for a giveaway from KIND Snacks. Eight delicious bars could be headed to your doorstep within the week: just make sure you do all these easy entries for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Filed under Giveaways, Snacks

Caramel ‘Could Be Crack’ Snack Mix

I am a home-grown, Converse-wearing caring-is-sharing gal, and I have never, ever ever used drugs except in my extra-special brownies. And yeah, you’re staring at the exception to that rule right now. Well, stare away, my lovelies, and let’s talk crack snack mix.

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If you’ve been following my blog recently, you will know that I am totally digging the idea of photoseries–you know, turning ordinary food photography into fun-derful stories. This recipe deserves its own photoseries. Let me put it this way: this is the single most-requested potluck, party, zombie-apocalypse-you-name-it-event recipe I have ever madeSo will you want to print, Pin, and share this recipe on Facebook? You bet your bowling balls you will.

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Let’s make one thing clear. Like most addictions, this snack mix is liable to ruin your lifeWillpower? Buh-bye. Your ex? Kow-towing at your doorstep. And diet what?

But it’s important to get all of these minor questions out of the way first, because then we can talk about why my friends are spamming my text inbox and Facebook wall with requests for this. Damn. Crack.

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Nobody who has tasted it seems to know what goes into it. I have tested this recipe on 20+ unsuspecting victims wonderful friends and the very first question to leave all of their crack-coated lips never fails to be, “What the HECK did you put in this, Ala?” A brawl almost literally broke out over the remaining caramelly crumbs when I brought this to a party last weekend, which is always kind of a major ego boost. It’s a pity fights don’t break out over me like this.

But I’ll let you in on the secret. SHHHH.

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Throw in some cereal. Whatever you have on hand works. I had those Chex Mix corn squares. Chop up some of whatever else you have on hand. Leftover Halloween candy? Great. Frozen cookie dough? No problem. Nuts? Perfecto. Actual crack? GO FOR IT. No, maybe you shouldn’t…not that you’ll need it, anyway. I went ahead and mixed in some chopped-up failed blobby cookies, then threw in cookie butter for good measure. Because I’m a sadist that way.

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Then throw some butter, lots of brown sugar, and corn syrup into a pot on the stovetop. Don’t be shy. Your waistline will become intimately acquainted with the mixture shortly.

Let that cook up and caramelize into a crazy creamy goo. Stir in some more cookie butter if you must. Stir in some baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, then spread your cereal mix on a cookie sheet and pour the whole caramel shebang over it with the blissful knowledge that about half of it will get stuck on the sides of the pot and you will have to lick it all off yourselfFeel free to do your “clean-up” while you throw the tray into the cookie tray into the oven to bake.

And that’s it.

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Crazy, crunchy, caramelly, CRACK.

Ready to take the plunge?


Print this recipe! Did you enjoy this photoseries? I would love to hear your feedback and comments. For more fun-derful updates from Wallflour Girl, follow me on Pinterest and Facebook. See you on the crack–er, flip side!

Caramel ‘Could Be Crack’ Snack Mix
  • 5 cups Chex cereal (or any other plain cereal of your choice)
  • 1-2 cups of other mix-ins (I used leftover chopped-up cookies; you may also use nuts, chocolate, candies)
  • 1 cup butter or margarine (OR 3/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup cookie butter)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with lightly-greased foil. Toss together cereal and mix-ins on lined cookie sheet. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, heat up butter (or butter & cookie butter) until melted. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Your mixture should reach a deep caramel-brown color at this point. Turn off burner and remove pot from heat.
  4. Stir in baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  5. Pour caramel mixture evenly over cereal mixture, taking care to coat cereal thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to stick your spoon (or hands) in there to make sure you get every last bit crack-ified.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 60-75 minutes, stirring cereal every 15 minutes to get an even crunch. Your mix will be ready to take out from the oven when the cereal begins to feel crispy but has not completely hardened.
  7. Allow to cool completely before serving to the friends pining outside your door.
Will Cook For SmilesTuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!
Will Cook For Smiles



Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Snacks

Crunchy Cookie Butter Granola (and Ala’s Breakfast Breakdown of People in Your Day-to-Day Life)

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I’ll confess. I’ve been reading Victorian novels lately.

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This got me thinking about angst muffins (who I’ll explain in a second–hold onto your corsets, lady-folks, and top hats, gentlemen), which got me in turn thinking about pastries. Food. Hunger. Uneaten dinner. Growl.

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A few years ago, I stumbled across Sarah’s Snack Theory, a brilliant synthesis of three male character types that you’re likely to like, hate, or just go outright epileptic over when you meet him in the literature of your choice. Then, as if I didn’t like the girl enough already, she goes on and likens them to different types of food:

angst muffins (your brooding woe-in-soul harborers),

sandwiches (reliable boy-next-door types), and

pastries (your variegated wild cards).

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Since that glorious moment of serendipitous blog surfing, various groups of my friends and I have entertained (mostly facetious) conversations about the cuisine archetypes we’re likely to meet in life. We frequently assign code categories to mutual acquaintances, thus if you heard:

“Oh my gosh, did you see how much of a meringue ____ was being today?”

–you’ll know I mean that this person is really nice to look at but is mostly just full of air, with very little substance and a lot fluffiness for brains.

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“I just woke up to the most AMAZING crepe this morning”

which could mean a LOT of things, including the possibility that you got lucky last night with somebody who’s the perfect balance of sweet and satisfying without being overbearing, and then you woke up and realized it wasn’t just a dream. And maybe he/she made you delicious crepes for breakfast, too. Who knows.

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Are you loving this system as much as I am yet?

As a gentle segue into this beautiful gossip-monger’s paradise, and before I run out of words in this post, I’m going to introduce you to Ala’s Breakfast Breakdown of People in Your Day-to-Day Life.

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The great thing about this scale is that you can basically apply it to the people in whatever place you currently frequent most–whether that’s a school, office, home, Disneyland, madhouse, wherever. You can talk about them, to their faces, without them ever even knowing it.

So, without further ado: the breakfast types you’ll meet in your day-to-day life.

(All of the following examples are derived from Disney movies and literary works–I mean, food, lit, and Disney. You didn’t actually expect serious stuff from this blog, did you?)

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#1: The English muffin

Pros: Reliable, solid, and meticulously trimmed, the English Muffin type is your go-to when you have a logical problem that needs to be solved. They make great coworkers and study buddies.

Cons: While dependable, this muffin type is not exactly brimming with surprises. They are commonly perceived as being flat all around, bland when taken alone, and just, well, there. Not necessarily your first choice for a feet-sweeping, swoon-inducing romantic interest. Maybe not even your tenth, for that matter.

How English Muffins Score: They’re might not always seem like the most terribly exciting people in the world, but don’t pass up the opportunity to get to know them, either. If you bring your own sweet addition (like a little bit of jam!), you might find that they’re more than willing to open up and take it in stride, adding a nice flair to an otherwise really solid personality. They’re not boring–they just like their data and logic a lot, and tend to come off reserved or taciturn, but you’ll never be at loss for a shoulder to lean on with an English Muffin around.

Examples: Eve from Wall-E, Violet from The Incredibles, Mr. Knightley from Emma

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#2: The Donut

Pros: They’re sweet. Plain and simple. These are the people who send you care packages for no reason at all, make you little collages of every single memory you’ve had together since before you were aware you knew each other, and basically brighten up your day even if it’s 5 AM and you haven’t had your kick of caffeine yet.

Cons: You’re not really sure what’s going on here all the time. It’s sort of like the idea of having dessert for breakfast–why is there sweetness here, and how do these people always manage to have as much energy no matter what time of day it is? Sometimes you might suspect them of being falsely saccharine sweet or secretly raiding the drug cartel’s latest shipment, because there’s no way in holy hummus they can be so happy. All. The. Time. Plus, you’re not sure how much substance there is behind all the sugary overload here–their energy can come off as a bit of airheadedness.

How Donuts Score: You really can’t hate ‘em. You could, but nobody’s going to give you brownie points for doing it because it’s sort of like trying to hate a Labrador Retriever puppy. At the same time, donut types don’t always feel at ease in overly formal situations, and they get a lot of flack for being filled with a lot of empty nothing. If you give them a chance, though, you’ll find that they’re sweet and true to the very core. Don’t judge donuts too quickly as a group, either: even though the stereotypical donut is just light fluff, there are plenty of heftier deep thinkers–more apple fritter types, if you will–out there, too.

Examples: Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh, Rapunzel from Tangled, Kitty from Pride and Prejudice, Tohru from Fruits Basket (manga)

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#3: The Crepe

Pros: They’re generally people people, meaning they’re bold yet classy in their interactions with others. They come in savory and sweet flavors, which means you’ll also get a nice mix with this group. Crepes tend to be leader or teacher-types with a soft but delicate exterior, making them easy to get to know, and maybe even befriend.

Cons: As much as they love working with people from all stripes and strides of life, their hyperawareness of others’ feelings can make them quick to take things personally, too. Crepes can be very sensitive and often feel the scorch coming on more acutely than other breakfast types do, even if they don’t show it, so others often feel they have to tiptoe around crepe types (or else risk waterworks). They sometimes withdraw behind professional masks as well, making their more complex interiority a bit difficult to access at a friend level.

How Crepes Score: They’re all-around dandy people who are pleasant to be around. As long as you don’t treat them ungratefully and work a bit to get past their professional or sensitive demeanor, you’ll be sure to find a charismatic and trustworthy friend.

Examples: Jane from Pride and Prejudice, John Wemmick from Great Expectations, Pacha from Emperor’s New Groove

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4. The Cup o’ Joe

Pros: Okay, so coffee technically isn’t a breakfast food…but that doesn’t keep an obscene demographic from treating it as such. Cup o’ Joe types are mysterious, thoughtful, and extremely firm in their morals, which also makes them ridiculously intriguing individuals that everyone seems to want to know. And if you do know them, they are extremely caring and supportive in their own way, keeping you fueled through a bad day or year like an amazing metaphorical caffeine kick.

Cons: As with the entire coffee-for-breakfast idea, there’s something inherently unsatisfying about the cuppa’s. Their terseness came cause them to come off as standoffish or downright rude, and

How Cup o’ Joes Score: Brooding, rich, smoky, and frequently accompanied by a smoldering expression, cup o’ Joe’s are more likely to make an appearance in Victorian novels than in daily life. However, if you are (or find yourself lucky enough to meet) a coffee type, stick with it–even if you don’t dig it at first, you might find yourself becoming addicted pretty quick! Plus, they’re morally impeccable and deeply caring people, meaning despite the unfathomable exterior, you’ll never have to doubt the integrity of a cuppa–assuming you get to know one.

Examples: John Thornton from North and South, Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, the Beast from Beauty and the Beast

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Build-It-Yourself: THE PARFAIT

Ahh….and here we’ve reached the end. I’ve by no means covered all my bases, but here’s where you come in! Parfaits are layered, complex breakfasts that come in all textures, flavors, and combinations. The best part is, you can build your own with whatever you have on hand! So now, instead of actually explaining the parfait (for which you can find an amazing cookie butter granola recipe below!), I’m going to let you build your own parfait (so to speak) and leave you with this question:

Where do you fall on my Breakfast Breakdown? Or, what breakfast food that I haven’t included here best represents you (and why)?

I can’t wait to hear all of your responses! I hope you enjoyed this scale, because I had fun reading it!

(I am, by the way, a crepe-donut ;) in case you were curious)


Crunchy Cookie Butter Granola
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup cookie butter  (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup nuts of your choice, chopped
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup toasted black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or raisins (or both!)


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine honey, cookie butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. Heat for 20 seconds. Set aside.
  2. Line a large pan (I used 9×13) with lightly-greased foil. In the lined pan, combine chopped nuts, oats, and sesame seeds. Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients and stir to combine, making sure that all of the dry ingredients get covered.
  3. Bake granola in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then stir and heat for an additional 10-15 minutes, until granola is fairly crunchy and golden brown. (Don’t worry if it’s not entirely clumped–it’ll clump during the cooling process!) Stir in chocolate chips or raisins. Set aside to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Breakfast & Brunch, Snacks

LWOM: Extra Fudgy Cheesecake-Topped Brownies and Candied Almonds (A Tale of Two Recipes)

It was the best of climes, it was the worst of climes,

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Candied Almonds (12.8.12)

it was the age of scrubs, it was the age of dishwashers,

Extra Fudgy Chunky Cheesecake-Topped Brownies (12.8.12)

it was the epoch of eyeballing, it was the epoch of measuring-out-to-the-grain,

Candied Almonds 2 (12.8.12)

it was the season of nuts, it was the season of chocolate,

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it was the spring of ovens, it was the winter of stovetops,

Candied Almonds 4 (12.8.12)

we had the whole tray of brownies and nuts before us, we had no trace of brownies and nuts before us,

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we were all going to put on our brand spanking new stretchy pants, we were all going to fit into our size 1 jea–

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nope, just stretchy pants–

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–in short, the period was so masochistically like the kitchen of every avid cook, that nobody in their right mind could help licking the last drop of raw brownie batter from the bowl even though they are not supposed to, and then wistfully wishing they had not done so because they were supposed to be losing some chubs before the end of the world came on the 21st of December, 2012, and they wanted to look damn good when it did, for no real reason whatsoever other than that it would be a good note to end the world on, the neurotic crumb-sneaking baker and a poster of size 0 Jennifer Aniston hanging on the wall, in the most fanciful and unrealistic degree of comparison only.

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It was the age of brownies and nuts.

Candied Almonds 3 (12.8.12)

The holidays had come.

This post is part of the Lit, Wit, and an Oven Mitt (LWOM) series here at Wallflour Girl, where Ala takes a popular or classic literary character and uses him/her/it to tell a story about her recipes.  Ala is an English literature graduate student with a strong interest in children’s literature, Victorian lit, and everything in between, beyond, bubbly, or burgundy. Ala does not own the rights to any of these characters or original literary texts. This series is intended to offer you a glimpse into her world through our shared love for food. Please let Ala know what you think of these stories–she’d love to hear what you think!

The original text of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Extra Fudgy Cheesecake-Topped Brownies
Yield: 1 9×13-inch baking pan
  • 1 1/4 cups butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • For cheesecake layer:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Splash of vanilla
  • For fudgy ganache:
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup (+2 tablespoons, as needed) milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together melted margarine, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chunks. Pour batter evenly into greased pan.
  3. To make cheesecake layer: In a separate medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix until smooth. Spread over brownie batter.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Prick brownies all over with a toothpick (this will allow your ganache to flow into the brownies and really get them moist!).
  5. To make ganache: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a rolling boil. Allow to boil for one minute, then remove from heat and beat for about 1 minute, until mixture thickens slightly. Pour over slightly cooled brownies.

Candied Almonds


  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup white sugar


  1. Place almonds in a saucepan or pot. Over medium-low heat, add sugar to almonds. Stir constantly–the sugar should begin to clump together at first, but it should start to melt into a creamy brown liquid after the first minute or two. Continue to stir until most of the sugar has melted and clumps onto the almonds. (The process should take no more than 3-4 minutes total–avoid the temptation to turn up your heat too high, as you may scorch the sugar.) Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Serve as a party dish or package them tightly as gifts.


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Snacks

Cookie Butter Bad Boys

Awkward questions are funny. Hilarious, sometimes.

They are less funny when they happen to you.

They are even less funny when they happen to you in “real time,” a.k.a. real life, where you aren’t allowed one full week in which you painstakingly type out messages, scrap drafts, cobble together 3 sentences that sound almost civilized, and finally panic as you check your Sent Mail box right after you hit the send button.

You can probably guess who’s feeling slightly mortified at the moment.

To be fair, I’m a currently a certified patient in the Hospital of  Awkward Social Circumstances. I can’t help it.  My dad once wanted to ask a lady “how many months along” she was…Thank god I was curious and craned my neck for a glance of her first.


Yeah. Totally not preggers.

Genes. I blame genes.

Symptoms include laughing when things aren’t meant to be funny, going to the bathroom five times in an hour in order to avoid conversations at a party, and agonizing for hours in bed over whether or not you sounded too desperate when you were talking to your crush that afternoon.

Fortunately, my Socially Awkward Interaction of the Day (SAID) was neither meaningful nor particularly malignant in nature. I will probably not have to change my name after this encounter, although I do have an alias in case the need ever arises (it’s Rosie-Posie Foxburr of Loamsdown, in case you’re interested–courtesy of this fantastic Hobbit name generator!).

The telephone conversation:

Private number calls.

Me: Hello?

Caller: Hi. May I speak to <something like my name, sort of>.

Me: <trying to be all sly and loop-holey> There’s nobody here by that name…

Caller: I’m sorry, I said that wrong. Is Ala there?

Me: Who’s calling?

Caller: I’m calling from the National something-or-other-that-you-probably-wouldn’t-care-about-anyway. (Okay, she didn’t actually say that–but it’s true.)

Me: Um.

Caller: Is there?

Me: <slightly flustered as I try to rack my brains for a polite way to end this conversation> Wait. No. Um.

Caller: Am I speaking to Ala?

Me: Er, no, I don’t think so, there’s not–

Caller: You don’t think so? You’re not sure whether or not I’m speaking to Ala?

Me: No, that is, I’m–

Caller: Is this Ala or not?

Me: Nothere’snobodyhereIdon’tknownevermindBYE. <Hangs up>

Queen of awesome conversations? Not really.

Going to obsess over how awkward moments like these define my social life and explain my lack of meaningful, lasting connections with other people?

Maybe. Probably. Okay, yes. Definitely.

While I purport to go off and bang my head on the oven, I’m actually going to sneak in some of these cookie butter bad boys. You heard me. Cinnamon, white chocolate, and cookie butter-coated cereal. Guess being a social hermit has its benefits–now I don’t have to share with anyone.


Cookie Butter Bad Boys

(I was determined to make these a while ago when I first discovered Biscoff, but it was Laura’s post for Biscoff puppy chow that inspired me to actually try my own version of it. Thanks!)


  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon chips (you can also substitute peanut butter or white chocolate chips)
  • 3/4 cup cookie butter, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups rice or flake cereal, as needed (Note: I used Special K fruit ‘n yogurt because I love the cinnamon-y undertones, but any slightly sweet cereal will work!)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, as needed


  1. In a medium pot, combine all chocolate chips and cookie butter. Over medium-low heat, melt chocolate mixture, stirring constantly, until almost smooth. Remove from heat, add cinnamon, and stir frequently until mixture is completely smooth.
  2. Add cereal to mixture and gently stir in until completely coated. (Allow for generous coating–you won’t regret it!)
  3. Sprinkle 1 cup powdered sugar and toss cereal to coat. Add more powdered sugar as needed. Allow to cool, then serve these bad boys as a snack or delicious dessert your guests won’t want to miss!


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Snacks