Try This Healthier Version of a Treat Only '90s Kids Will Remember: Cosmic Brownies

POPSUGAR Photography | Hajar Larbah
POPSUGAR Photography | Hajar Larbah

Nothing brought me more joy as a kid than to open my lunch bag and see the colored chocolate chips of my favorite sweet: Cosmic Brownies. They were chocolate-y, creamy, fudgy — basically everything that makes a child light up. These days, my taste buds are a bit more sophisticated, and since I try to be smart even when having a treat, I figured why not create my own healthier version of the beloved snack — if nothing else, for the nostalgia.

POPSUGAR Photography | Hajar Larbah

The individually wrapped sweets you'll find in stores typically contain all sorts of processed ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup and bleached white flours. This brownie recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free and contains no refined sugars, but even the pickiest eaters won't be able to tell. And the best part? You can make the brownies in your Instant Pot.

POPSUGAR Photography | Hajar Larbah

To be clear, almost any topping will tack on some sugar — I only had mini M&M's on hand, but for the most authentic Cosmic Brownie, pick up some rainbow chips. Colorful chocolate-covered sunflower seeds have the same look, with some added nutrition.

Whether you want to relive your youth or whip up a batch for your own kids, it's time to dig in.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Instant Pot Brownies

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour

Original Recipe


    • Brownie Mixture
    • 1 cup almond flour
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tablespoons almond milk
    • 1/3 cup cashew butter
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • Chocolate Frosting
    • 1 cup dairy-free, refined sugar-free chocolate, chopped
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup almond milk
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Toppings
    • 1/4 cup rainbow chips


    1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, egg, almond milk, cashew butter, coconut oil, and maple syrup.

    2. Spray the baking pan with coconut oil. Pour all the batter into the pan, and spread evenly. Then cover the top with foil.

    3. Add the trivet to the bottom of the Instant Pot, along with 1 1/2 cups of water. Drop the covered baking pan in on top of the trivet.

    4. Secure the lid of the Instant Pot, and close the pressure valve. Press manual, and set the timer for 30 minutes.

    5. While the brownies cook, prep the frosting. In a small bowl, add the chopped chocolate and coconut oil. Place in the microwave for 30-second intervals. After every interval, give it a stir, and check if melted. Depending on the chocolate and microwave, it can take 2-5 intervals.

    6. Once the chocolate is melted, add the maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla extract. Place the frosting in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes to an hour — just until it is easy to spread.

    7. Once the timer expires, allow the Instant Pot to depressurize. Using tongs or mittens, carefully drain out the water, and remove the brownie pan. Allow to cool to room temperature.

    8. Frost the brownies, and sprinkle the rainbow chips on top.


    For the chocolate in the frosting, I like to use a dairy-free and refined sugar-free chocolate like Eating Evolved's Cashew Milk bar.