Saturday, December 22, 2018

Student Guest Blog Post: Sweet Treats in Deceit - Problem Solving Project

Here is second post by a different student in my Honors Problem-Solving Seminar; not every student had to do something that involved pure math. This student chose to use problem solving to figure out how to make cookies that she could eat...and the results were delicious!!

For the remaining blog posts, go to

My name is Jamie and I wanted to solve the problem of substituting healthy options for unhealthy ingredients in a variety of desserts. Solving these problems are interesting to me because I love to bake, but I am gluten-free and mostly sugar-free, so I am unable to bake as much as I used to. Due to this, I am now able to bake, but with ingredients that stick to my diet. Although there are many recipes that were made to be healthy that I have tried in the past, I have never enjoyed them. Because of this project, I have created new recipes that hopefully I, as well as other people in the same situation, will always be able to enjoy in the future.


First, in order to correctly replace traditional dessert ingredients with healthy ones, I had to study the chemical reactions in baking to reproduce the same reactions, but with healthier ingredients. For example, the melting of butter in the oven causes cookies to spread out and flatten. It creates smaller air pockets, resulting in the product becoming much chewier. Coconut oil can be substituted for butter, but be careful not to use too much because then the cookies will taste like coconut.


Sugars contribute to the taste of your product, as well as caramelization and the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is the combination of proteins and sugars, at 310˚, which creates rings and the brown color seen in most cookies. Also, as the sugars continue to break down, at 356˚, they turn into a brown, flavorful liquid, which is a process called caramelization. White sugar is mostly sucrose, so only dark sugars such as brown sugar are used for to create the Maillard reaction. This is why most cookie recipes call for both granulated and brown sugars because the white sugar is used for one process, while the brown is used for the other. To make up for sugar’s major part in the taste of the cookie, honey, dates, and banana can be used, or other natural sugars.


Additionally, the thickness of a cookie depends on the amount of flour used. If a thicker cookie is wanted, additional flour should be added to your product. Some substitutions for all-purpose flour consist of either almond, oat, potato, or gluten-free flour. For my project, I used almond and oat flour, but it depends on personal preference.


The final ingredient I will eliminate from dessert recipes is chocolate, which for most people, is the most important part. A couple of months ago, I substituted milk chocolate for dark chocolate, precisely 86% cacao. Most people would call it disgusting because it is extremely bitter, but to me, it is my favorite type of chocolate. Because I have become accustomed to eating it, I no longer enjoy eating milk chocolate. Due to this, in my recipes, I have use 86% cacao, which is actually extremely beneficial because of all the antioxidants, as well as lowering risks of diseases. Here are my two cookie recipes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies:

3/4 cup oat flour

3/4 cups shredded zucchini

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon almond butter

1/2 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1/4 banana

Preheat oven to 325˚. Whisk eggs and combine with almond butter, banana, zucchini, honey, vanilla, and coconut oil. Add in salt, cinnamon, baking soda, almond flour, and oat flour. Bake for 25-30 minutes.


Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 banana

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

8 dates

2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cup oat flour

2 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

86% cacao chocolate

Preheat oven to 325˚. Remove the seeds from the dates and blend them until they are no longer solid. Add in the eggs, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, and a mashed banana. Mix thoroughly. Combine the remaining dry ingredients with the wet mixture. Place tablespoons of the cookie dough onto a pan with parchment paper and flatten each of them. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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