Gift in a Jar: Walnut Cocoa Brownies {gluten-free}


Gift in a Jar: Walnut Cocoa Brownies

When it comes to gift-giving, I’m all about the homemade kind (as all of our friends who received a set of hand-carved salad spoons, a color-dipped bird’s-eye maple cutting board, or a custom-painted kitchen bakery sign as a wedding gift in the past couple of years can attest to). A sentimental streak passed down from my mom who still has a framed card on her wall that I made when I was 5. Nothing says “I Luv U Mom” like yellow construction paper with oil pastels. You know the other direct route to someone’s heart? A batch of this Walnut Cocoa Brownie mix all layered up in a jar.

Brownies Gift in a Jar

For the second year in a row now, I’ve been missing my holiday crafting pal. Cas spends just about as much time in the kitchen as I do, and always gives the best homemade holiday gifts – anything from pickled pumpkin to marmalade to pancake mix to hot cocoa mix.

This girl is so creative that she once taught me how to turn an ugly thrift store holiday knit sweater and a hanger into a wreath that’s still the most festive Christmas decor we own. Then she used the leftover scraps to make holiday cards with sweater Christmas trees sewn on the front.

Though we couldn’t be together last year, she still DIYed the heck out of the holidays and sent me little labeled mason jars filled with homemade rosemary salt, lemon salt, and vanilla salt across the country. Also known as jars oozing with love.

Brownies in a JarHomemade Almond Flour

Spoiler alert: I need to step up my game, so this year I’m sending some love her way via this gluten-free walnut cocoa brownie mix in a jar. When I partnered with Diamond Nuts to come up with a layered gift in a jar recipe for the holidays, I instantly knew I’d send my jar to Cas.

Then literally the day after I’d perfected the recipe for these gluten-free walnut cocoa brownies, Cas and I played catch-up on the phone where I learned that her boyfriend Brian recently found out after a series of inexplicable health issues that he’s gluten-intolerant. So Brian, these are also for you…from me to Cas to your belly. (Surprise!).

Walnut Brownie Gift in a Jar

These brownies took a bit of time to perfect; Normally I make my brownies with loads of melted chocolate, so I tried to compensate by putting a little baggie of to-be-melted chocolate as the top layer of the jar. I bet you can guess how not stellar that looked. So instead I whimsically tweaked my recipe and baked up a huge pan of just so-so cake-y brownies.

Which side of the cakey-fudgy brownie battle are you on?

I’m firmly on the moist chewy fudgy side of the tracks (but not in the land of dense this-is-no-longer-considered-a-brownie fudge). And that second cakey attempt just wasn’t cutting it. Fortunately Lucas’s cousin was in Berkeley for the football game that day and happily took the tray of brownies off my hands. Have you seen a college freshman’s face when you offer a batch of freshly baked (rejected) brownies? It’s sheer determination. Must get to the brownies by any means possible, even if it means almost missing the last bus back to Stanford.

Walnut Cocoa Brownies in a Jar

This batch – round three – is exactly what I’d been searching for in a brownie.The key to getting that deeply moist chocolate texture out of cocoa brownies is a generous amount of cocoa powder and a high sugar to flour ratio. These cocoa-based brownies are richly chocolately, super chewy, and incredibly moist, with their tops crackling just so. I used Diamond Almonds to grind up my own almond flour to turn the brownies gluten-free. And the bars get an extra boost with crunchy chopped walnuts studded throughout.

If you’re looking for DIY holiday inspiration, this layered walnut cocoa brownie mix in a jar is a sure bet.

Brownie Gift in a JarThanks for reading Snixy Kitchen! To stay up on what’s coming out of my kitchen,  follow me on Facebook, Instagram, TwitterBloglovin’, or Pinterest, or subscribe via e-mail to get new recipes right to your inbox.

Gift in a Jar: Walnut Cocoa Brownies {gluten-free}
For the Brownie Mix
  • 6 tablespoons sweet rice flour (*See notes for finding this flour and for non-gluten-free option)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup high-quality dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons espresso powder
  • Scant ½ cup sliced or whole Diamond almonds (or 6 tablespoons almond meal/flour)
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • Approximately 1 cup chopped Diamond walnuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
  • Need: 1 quart-sized mason jar
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Brownie Mix
  1. If using whole/sliced almonds, make the almond meal/flour first. Pour the sliced almonds into a blender and pulse just until it becomes a fine powder (if you pulse too long, it’ll start to turn to almond butter). Sift the ground almonds, discarding any large pieces. Measure out 6 tablespoons of almond flour and set aside.
  2. Combine the sweet rice flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Use a wide-mouthed funnel to pour the mixture as the first layer in the quart-sized mason jar. Tip: If you don’t have a wide-mouthed funnel, you can do what I did and roll & tape a piece of paper into a funnel with an opening just slightly smaller than the jar).
  3. Carefully use a muddler or a large spoon to evenly pack the flour down. Tip: If you get any flour on the sides as you’re pouring it in, you can use a paper towel to wipe the inside edges before adding another layer.
  4. Use the funnel to pour the cocoa powder and espresso powder as the second layer in the jar, again gently using the muddler or spoon to evenly pack it down.
  5. Repeat by pouring in the almond meal as the 3rd layer and the sugar as the 4th layer.
  6. Fill the remaining jar with about 1 cup chopped diamond walnuts, leaving about an inch at the top.
  7. Fill the rest with chocolate chips until tightly packed to the brim.
  8. Seal and attach the following directions to the jar.
Printed Directions for Tag
  1. Mix the contents of the jar with ¾ cup melted unsalted butter, 3 large eggs, and 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract. Bake in a parchment-lined 9x13 pan at 350°F for 25-30 minutes.
Sweet rice flour is also called glutinous rice flour. I get this brand at my asian supermarket, but I've seen Mochiko and Bob's Redmill at major grocery stores or specialty food stores, or on Amazon).

For non gluten-free version, replace the sweet rice flour and almond flour for equal amounts of all-purpose flour (3/4 cup total).

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Diamond Nuts as part of their Gift-in-Jar campaign, but please rest-assured that all opinions expressed here are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Snixy Kitchen baking!

Be sure to follow Diamond of California for more gift in a jar recipes! You can also follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest.

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  1. Wow, this brownie mix look incredible! I love the packaging and the cute tag, you are so creative :) And the brownies look so fudgey and delicious – it is such a brilliant idea to add espresso powder. What a great idea for a hostess gift!!!

  2. Homemade gifts are the best! They are the only things I give to my immediate family now!

  3. I love these! They’re so cute, and everyone loves brownies, right? Even better that they’re gluten free :)

  4. I love gifts in jars . . and basically anything homemade. . says so much and is so special! love that you did brownie ingredients!! and love Diamond Nuts! :)

  5. My sister will love this! I’m going to go make it up now :) Thanks!!

  6. IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL! You know, I have to say that jarred cookies is good and all, but there’s just something about jarred brownies that are so much more special! Gorgeous presentation, too :)

    • Aw – thanks, Sarah! It took me a couple of tries to figure out how to get the layers just right so I didn’t end up with cocoa powder ALL over the inside of the jar. Paper funnels is where it’s at.

  7. Amanda Paa says:

    Gah, these are awesome! And thank you for perfecting the ultimate brownie – moist and chewy. I’m firmly on that side too. Don’t you just wish you had all the time in the world to make things and send them to people? So much fun. xo

  8. These look so perfect! I love, love, love, gifts in jars… and brownies lol.

  9. I super duper love these. I’m a big fan of holiday gifts in a jar as you know :-) The layers are so gorgeous – with the nuts resting on top…YUM!

  10. Sheri Nix says:

    This turned out so cute!! Cas is going to love it!

  11. These look great! You are too mean making me hungry like this!

  12. This is such a great homemade gift! I love the way you decorated the jar; so festive! And definitely, definitely, fudgy. All the way ;)

  13. I love that you do homemade gifts for Christmas. We’re going to Mexico for Christmas, and a lot of money is going towards our much needed vacation. Which means the money left over for Christmas presents is…light. You’ve inspired me!

  14. love these kinds of gifts too sarah! I am so behind this year and can’t even think of what i’m making.. hmmm… maybe these!! btw, i’m all about the crinkly top, and super chocolatey, moist and not too dense brownie. :)

    • You have no idea how behind I am with Christmas. I’m happy to hear you’re into the same kind of brownie – maybe I’ll make these for you when we have our next coffee/tea date (which should be sooner than later).

  15. Jasmin says:

    Your friend are sooo lucky Sarah :)
    Too bad that one whole ocean is between us, as I gladly would like to be your friend – especially around the holidays ;)

  16. Homemade gifts are my favorite! This brownie mix is such a great idea and looks so so pretty! Your brownies look amazing too and I know your friend will love this!

  17. This is such a wonderful gift. I am absolutely loving everything about it. Great post.

  18. Ermagherd… you are totally the DIY gift queen!! I just checked out that wood spoon/fork and the kitchen sign…. holy guacamole those are amazing!!! And these brownies… let’s just say I wouldn’t mind being on the receiving end of this amazingness! And I’m totally a fudgy brownie person :)

  19. This will be my first year making gifts ins jars! I hope that it looks half as good as these!

  20. Sarah, this is the best gift idea ever!!! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe and the drool inducing photos.
    Quick question, if I can’t find/get rice flour, can I sub it for another flour such as whole-wheat flour or almond flour?

      • Thanks, Alice! If you can’t find sweet rice flour (note – you’d be looking for sweet rice flour, which is different than rice flour), you can sub out the sweet rice and almond flour for 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (as those are the two flours I’ve added to work in concert in place of the all-purpose flour). I bet you could also just sub out the sweet rice flour for all-purpose flour, but having never made it that way before, I can’t say for certain that it will bake the same way. So if you go that route, I’d bake a small batch first just to test it. If try that, please let me know so I can tell others! I wouldn’t recommend replacing the sweet rice flour with more almond flour as the sweet rice flour is what gives it the binding sticky chewy texture reminiscent of traditional brownies.

        Thanks for reminding me to make that note! I’ve also added a note about the brands of sweet rice flour I find most commonly and where you can purchase sweet rice flour online.

  21. Homemade gifts are seriously the best and shoot, when they’re that crafty and cute, everyone wants one! Love this Sarah – pinned!

  22. This is perfect! Brownies are a favourite in my household, and I’m always looking for new gluten free recipes. I also really love the idea of gifting a jar like this. Homemade edibles make such wonderful gifts!

  23. Carly says:

    Love love this idea!!! Not only is it super cute, but it’s so fun to share a recipe that you love with people that you love. I’m a huge fan!

    Thanks! | Carly

  24. Um…these are AMAZING! Gorgeous photos and such a delicious and fun idea!

  25. what a crafty gift! The jar is almost too pretty to open and bake with :) I’d probably just keep it looking pretty on the pantry shelf

    • Haha – just to make sure it worked, I made up a pretty jar and then dumped the whole thing into the bowl to mix up a batch of brownies. I was like, “all my hard work making this look pretty in layers!” Haha. Totally worth the taste of the brownies though;)

  26. Erika says:

    So Alanna piqued my interest with all her talk about this amazing holiday goddess in her latest blog post–which turned out to be you!! And I totally agree with her. Not only do these look like some of the best brownies I’ve ever seen, but you can package these up all cute for other people to make?! LOVE!!! I kind of want to just make these…for myself :3

    • Aww – thank you so much! If only you knew how UNPREPARED I am with gifts (like…not a single gift for my husband yet…). I’ll pretend I’m prepared and keep posting edible gifts. If only I could just bake my husband a batch of brownies and say Merry Christmas;) Also – yes, you totally can just make them for yourself (and should…I did).

  27. TOTALLY on the fudgy and chewy side of brownies. And I’m okay if they’re borderline fudge. But no way is cakey okay. Then it’s just cake without frosting – boo! Love how perfect these are for your friend and her boyfriend, and the freshman determination… Boy can I relate! I brought my brother homemade birthday cake both his frosh and soph years in the dorms, and his friends attacked it like hungry vultures. So amusing! ;) Pinned!

  28. Oh my gosh, Sarah!! We are both totally on the same jar-wavelength. I’m currently working on a few cookie-mixes-in-a-jar and then you go and post this FAB brownie mix! Seriously, these look absolutely dreamy. Look at all that fudge!

  29. Which SIDE of the brownie debate? I love ALL the sides!

  30. Christie says:

    I think I’ll make these for Christmas. Why not? Calories don’t count on Christmas!


  31. Althea says:

    looks so yummy !! I hope i can do this soon ..

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