Recipe Hack : Aztec Chocolate Almond Butter

By Tsz on April 20, 2013

Gastrophoria is homemade Aztec Chocolate Almond Butter.

Big news! You’re now looking at the newest recipe contributor to NatureBox’s editorial team!! Growing up watching Martha Stewart, it’s always been a dream of mine to follow in her footsteps and create in the kitchen. This is one giant leap closer to my personal holy grail.

Every week, I’m presented by an unique challenge of designing a tasty recipe that can be followed and replicated by households all over using healthy snacks that’s cooked up by NatureBox.

For my inaugural week, I was assigned to these spicy Chipotle Maple Almonds. Upon tasting a few, I knew I wanted to use them in one of my favorite preparations—creating a homemade chocolate nut butter from scratch! With just a few ingredients and a handful of minutes, you too can feast on your own batch of addicting substance (that’s entirely legal).

Best part is that the spice from the Chipotle Maple Almonds and pinch of cayenne gives the butter a subtle kick that is unexpected. Try the recipe as-is or switch it up by using hazelnuts (anyone say homemade Nutella?) or a blend of nuts for your own unique concoction. Let me know how it goes!

Aztec Chocolate Almond Butter
Yields 1-1/2 cups

1 package NatureBox Chipotle Maple Almonds (about 1-1/4 cups)
1 pinch of salt
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 generous pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil

1. Add almonds and salt to a food processor or blender and blend until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Scrape sides as needed with a spatula so the mixture processes evenly.

2. Add the cocoa powder, sugar and cayenne and blend until evenly distributed. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the almond butter and blend until smooth (like creamy peanut butter), about 5 minutes. Add another tablespoon of oil if you’d like a thinner consistency (for topping on ice cream!).

Tip: Spread the Aztec Chocolate Almond Butter on toast, layer with banana slices and enjoy! You can also try it with ice cream or eat straight from a spoon! If there are leftovers, store in the fridge in a glass jar for up to one week.

Happy eating!


Secret Squirrel Cold Brew : When Design Meets Food

By Tsz on April 9, 2013

Gastrophoria is being able to design for food. Even better when it’s for a product I enjoy, such as Secret Squirrel Cold Brew.

Most people work to live and some live to work. For me, I’d rather live to eat and design. As a young(ish) graphic designer, I’m not at the stage where I can pick and choose projects so whenever an intriguing opportunity comes along—especially when it’s food related—I have to grab it!

Secret Squirrel is one of those projects. Delicious cold brewed coffee concentrate… what’s not to like? Secret Squirrel Beta had a hand drawn label—lovingly DIY, however, not very conducive to keeping up with production demands. So using the remedy bottle as a launching point, I created a look that was inspired by alchemy and snake oil elixirs of yesteryear, refined it and made it mass-production friendly. What do you think?

During the design process, I’ve experimented a lot with different ways of using the cold brew (in the name of research!)—mixing it with different ratios of water, milk, half-and-half, etc. You name it, and I’ve probably tried it.

My absolute favorite way is mixing up a quick affogato. All you need is a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream, add a shot the cold brew concentrate and stick a cute straw in it. Makes for a no fuss dessert, or breakfast (When in Rome…).

Since then, the label has gone through another design adaptation but the spirit of the art direction remains. Happy eating!


Trader Joe’s Chocolate Croissants : A Taste of Paris for Breakfast

By Tsz on March 13, 2012

Gastrophoria is a pain au chocolat fresh out of the oven.

My first experience was when I visited Europe (1st timer!) last year. I had just landed at the Orly airport during the last leg of my European adventures and was absolutely famished. Due to a lack of funds (Europe is not cheap I tell you), I settled on this unassuming pastry from the airport’s bakery for my first dinner in Paris. It was heavenly.

Layers upon layers of flaky pastry surrounding a dark chocolate bar that’s in a semi-liquidly state, it was a rhapsody in carbs and sugar. Needless to say, I attempted to eat one for each day I was in Paris. Fortunately for my waistline, I walked everywhere—partly due to my curiosity and partly due to the lack of understanding of the metro system.

Ever since I got back, I craved pain au chocolat. Mercifully, the experience can be closely recreated at home, sans the $1000 plane ticket.

Believe it or not, Trader Joe’s has a top-notch pain au chocolat (or chocolate croissant as they like to call it) in the freezer aisle. All you need is to plop the little pastry bundles on a cookie sheet, let them rise over night (they expand 4 times its own size) and bake for 20-30 minutes. Et voila, a taste of Paris!

Best paired with a vroom vroom red nail polish a la Chanel 475 Dragon for a balanced breakfast. Bon appetite!


Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with Mango Sauce

By Tsz on January 30, 2012

Gastrophoria is a panna cotta flavored with sweet corn.

Naturally sweet, corn is a novel way to flavor desserts, especially when used in a creamy panna cotta. Taking a simple basic recipe, all you’ll need is some sweet corn to infuse the cream.

After the cream is flavored, you can then strain out the corn for a smooth panna cotta. However, since I detest throwing out good food, I prefer to blend the entire mixture for a rustic and more intensely flavored custard. It was just the right note to end my recent dinner party honoring foie gras.

Give this a try and let me know how it goes! Happy Eating.

Corn Panna Cotta
Serves 8

2 cups frozen sweet corn
3 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 silver gelatin sheets, 3×10″

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream and frozen corn. Bring to a simmer, turn off the heat and let rest for 10 minutes.
2. Put the cooled mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan and add the remaining heavy cream.
3. Add vanilla and sugar to corn puree. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, taking care the mixture doesn’t boil.
4. In a separate bowl, bloom the gelatin sheets in iced water for 5 minutes. Once bloomed, add gelatin sheets to corn puree and stir until dissolved.
5. Pour the mixture into 8 custard cups and refrigerate until set.

Mango Sauce
1 cup mango puree
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs orange marmalade

1. In a small saucepan combine all ingredients and heat until incorporated. Cool mixture in a small bowl.

1/4 cup freeze dried corn
8 almond cookies

1. Spoon mango sauce over panna cotta. Sprinkle with corn garnish.
2. Serve with your favorite almond cookies and Enjoy!


Berthillon : La Vie En Rose (and Ice Cream)

By Tsz on January 12, 2012

Gastrophoria is savoring an ice cream cone from Berthillon on the Seine.

The time or weather isn’t important—though it’s best to go right after a light drizzle as that’s when the air in Paris smells sweetest. All you need is a few euros for this experience (ok ok, provided you’re in Paris already).

When you’re at the counter, be sure to greet your server with a simple greeting of “bonjour, monsieur (or madame),” and pick two of the most unusual flavors that you’d like to try—this is no time to be conservative! Now, mosey over to the Seine and situate yourself on one of their many benches and enjoy the scene.

I had the marrons glacés (candied chestnuts) and caramel au beurre salé (salted caramel) during my stay and they were magnifique! Not too sweet and flavor-packed, this isn’t your usual ice cream from the states. Chunks of delicate candied chestnuts are disbursed throughout the chestnut ice cream while the salted caramel was aggressively seasoned—picture the taste of the burnt sugar topping in crème brûlée with just a touch of salt. I alternated between the two to keep things fresh—just like diving into a swimming pool after a stint in the sauna (another experience you’ve got to try out if you haven’t already).

C’est la vie en rose.

31 Rue St.
Louis-en-l’Ile, Paris, France
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