We go through the looking glass with the queen of sophisticated sweets. Plus, a pretty vegan brownie recipe.
Stepping into Loria Stern’s world of baked treats is like stepping through the looking glass, and that’s by design. “Nature inspires me most,” she says, “I would describe my aesthetic as elegant Alice in Wonderland.”
Loria is best-known for her whimsical flower pressed cookies and is the founder of a thriving Los Angeles-based baking company, Loria Stern, where she cooks up confections almost too beautiful to eat.
All of Loria’s creations have the uncanny ability to turn everyday events into something magical - so who better to provide a few tips on how to make the daily routine of cooking at home a bit more fun? Read on for Loria’s insights, how she started her business, and a very pretty vegan brownie recipe rich in chocolate and Secret Garden vibes.
What did you do prior to starting your baking company?
I started my business, officially, in 2015. Before then I was cooking at different cafes, bakeries, and restaurants, I call that time my “culinary boot camp.”
Your creations are like pieces of art. How do you come up with your designs and recipes?
I’m inspired by nature...what's currently in season and easy to source. I'm also inspired by color theory when designing a recipe - what colors look best together first and then deciding if the flavors work well together.
As a female entrepreneur, what’s something you’re most proud of?
I’m most proud that I get to do what I love for income, as well as have the ability to support not only myself, but two other hardworking employees.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who might be thinking about starting their own business?
Learn as much as you can about the industry or craft that you’re interested in. Also be patient with yourself as success does not happen overnight.
With stay at home orders in place, people are cooking at home a lot more which can lead to burnout. What have you been doing to keep cooking exciting?
I cooked a lot at home before quarantine but now I’m cooking even more (if that was even a possibility)! I have been experimenting with different cuisines that at one point intimidated me, like Ethiopian and Thai inspired cuisines.
Aside from experimenting with new cuisines, are there any new hobbies you’re trying?
Right now I'm pretty busy running my company although I have plans to reupholster a vintage couch.
How do you set the mood in your kitchen?
I first start with my attitude - making sure I am not stressed out...having a good time is the best thing you can do.
Do you have a go-to cooking playlist?
Depends on what sort of foods I’m cooking or mood I’m in, but generally mellow but happy music is playing in my kitchen.
Do you have a favorite holiday meal or tradition?
I love Thanksgiving pies! And to go on long walks after a large meal.
What kitchen items are you currently obsessed with?
That is a tough question because I have many kitchen obsessions! Currently, it is my edible flower sprinkles, they are so delicate and fun to use on sweet and savory foods. They make everything more beautiful!
With virtual gatherings our new normal, how can people make theirs feel more special?
My suggestion would be to send your loved ones special gifts that they could use and create memories with, for example: sending a special spice blend that you make and then a coinciding recipe!
Do you have any advice for novice at-home chefs?
Start cooking your favorite thing to eat and try not to get discouraged if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you had hoped. Keep trying, practice makes perfect. Also, read a recipe in its entirety and set timers! Even professionals burn things if they don’t set timers (especially with baking)!
Any good baking hacks you can share?
Yes! My advice for sugary online recipes is to half the amount of sugar and double the vanilla extract!
Loria’s Vegan Plantain Brownies Recipe
— 2 very ripe plantains
— 3/4 cup oat flour
— 1/2 cup raw cacao
— 2/3 cup coconut sugar
— 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
— 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
— Pinch of salt
— 4 oz. vegan dark chocolate, cut into chunks
— 2 oz. coconut milk
— 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
— Pinch of salt
— 20 dried and pressed edible flowers (available on Loria’s website, or you can make yourself by pressing fresh organic edible flowers. You can also decorate with fresh edible flowers but these won’t stay flat).
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Prepare 8”x8” brownie pan with coconut baking spray and line with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper again.
3. In a food processor, blend plantains for about 1 minute. Then add all other ingredients and blend for another minute or so, scraping down sides. Once the batter is fully blended, pour into prepared brownie pan and smooth surface.
4. Bake brownies in oven for about 18 minutes or until a pick comes out clean in the center.
5. Let cool for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare ganache:
1. Put 4 oz. chopped dark chocolate into a heat proof bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat up 2 oz. coconut milk until almost boiling and then swiftly pour over chopped chocolate.
3. Add in vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Let sit for several minutes and then using a spatula, combine until chocolate is smooth.
4. While the ganache is still warm, spread over the baked brownie.
5. Decorate with your pressed edible flowers. Enjoy!
And if you’re craving these brownies minus the baking, you can purchase them on Loria’s website.