Comfort Baking

Whether midterms are ending, finals are starting soon, or papers need to be finished, dessert has always been a sweet distraction. Anyone who knows me knows how much of a sweet tooth I have, so it comes as no surprise that baking is my escape from the stresses of life. The aromatic end result is worth the hours spent standing in the kitchen.  Adding together ingredients and watching them come out with sugary perfection is a relaxing way to cope with the fast-paced college life.

Of course, like most things in life, the hardest part is starting. Planning what sugary confection I’m craving, finding a good recipe for it, and then finding the right cookware for everything isn’t an easy job. It’s only at the start that I forget why I am willing to take on this baking feat.

Ingredients are another story. I either have to make do with what I’ve got or buy new ingredients that I convince myself I will use again in the future, which requires even more recipe hunting.

Even with all the kitchen mishaps, the end result of sharing the latest confection with friends has always made the whole process worth it. One of my favorite comfort recipes is banana bread. I often find overly ripe bananas at my house. I’ve found that any extra foods left around the house are a great start to any recipe, since it’s better than wasting the food. I throw leftover berries into a smoothie, bananas into banana bread, and even jam into shortbread cookies.

An extra benefit to the banana bread is that I can try my best to keep it a little more on the healthy side by substituting some applesauce for butter and cutting down on some sugar. The more ripe the bananas, the more natural sugars are found, making added sugar less necessary.

It’s a super easy treat, since all the ingredients can be mixed together quickly and thrown into a pan for an hour until the bread rises to a soft, light consistency. Nuts or chocolate can be added for extra taste and variety as well. Plus, it’s pretty easy to eat a lot without feeling too guilty.

Being a proud chocoholic, brownies are a go-to recipe to satisfy my chocolate cravings. And although the season calls  for peppermint brownies and gingerbread, I’ve found that I miss the taste of summer. When I have a craving for s’mores, I turn to my sweet s’mores brownie recipe.

I stumbled upon this recipe online when looking for a fun twist on brownies. The recipe consists of a bottom layer of graham crackers, a thick layer of brownie, and marshmallows scattered on top. The key is to broil the brownie concoction for that campfire look and taste.

My Indian heritage has given me the taste of authentic Indian sugary sweets. One of my favorites is called gulab jamun, deep-fried dough balls that are soaked in sugary syrup. Although I prefer to make desserts from scratch, I cheat a little bit with this recipe and use a box 0mix, as the rest of the process is pretty time-consuming. Once adding the water to the dry Gits mix, I roll the dough into balls and fry them in oil and simple syrup. The treats are  then chilled in the refrigerator once cooled down. I’ve found that gulab jamun is best when it has time to soak in the syrup and absorb all the sugar. I prefer the dessert warm with not a lot of extra syrup.

Making international desserts can be a fun way to try out new sweets. All in all, whether your vice is pies, baklava or churros, baking is a sure-fire way to feel relaxed and productive at the same time. There are such a plethora of recipes online that these few are just a start.  Who doesn’t love trying baked goods?