G's Easy Dessert Recipes
Sweet Tooth Confession
This is my normal speed.
G, why do you have this random picture on your dessert recipes page? Cause this is what I ate to reconcile the dessert avalanche that exploded in our kitchen today. While I like to play around with reinventing traditional desserts (normally to make them healthier), sweet snacks are not my deal. There are a few 'dessert' goodies that I sometime crave, here's my top 5 list in order of awesomeness (for me at least):
Pretty bland list by most standards I bet, but what I lack in an authentic sweet tooth, I think I make up in creativity. Most of these easy dessert recipes came from my coupon shopping adventures, others are healthier interpretations of common comfort foods. Yeah, I have a baking and pastry degree, but my primary goal was learning to bake bread from scratch. I got a lot more out of the training, of course. Including one interesting observation - many of the now famous desserts we studied and prepared in school - Sacher Torte, Tarte Tatin and puff pastry to name a few - were born out of desperation. Some apprentice charged with making a signature dish ended up throwing something together or trying to save a botched baking attempt and voila, classic dessert! If nothing else, these dessert recipes should give you more confidence to experiment yourself.
Easy Cake Recipes
Recipes literally as easy as 1, 2, 3!
Melted Ice Cream Cake
Cake and ice cream come together in an easy yet decadent recipe from Ann Byrn's Cake Mix Doctor cookbook. My favorite thing about this particular recipe is that by simply changing ice cream flavors, you can achieve a significantly different finished product. When you think about it, premium ice cream shares a number of similar ingredients with most cakes. If you choose a cheaper brand, Byrn suggests using a bit more melted ice cream to achieve the desired results. I'm not sure how a fat free or sugar free ice cream would stand up here, but its worth a try.
*For AJ's 11th birthday, we doubled this recipe to share at a potluck. I altered the recipe a little and used 5 cups melted Moose Tracks ice cream, 2 boxes of yellow cake mix and only 4 eggs and it still turned out great. Instead of icing the cake, we served it like a sundae, with an additional scoop of ice cream, chocolate, caramel topping and whipped cream. Feel free to choose your favorite flavor.
Red Velvet Cake
Much like the (Not So) Red Velvet Brownie recipe, we simply added 2 tsp red food color to a Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Mix.
My cake professor in cooking school shared that by simply substituting sour cream for water in a boxed cake recipe, you get a very moist cake with a texture similar to the cream cakes you buy at the store. I've had great results using plain fat free yogurt too. Similarly, I'll normally add a cup of old fashioned oats to box cake mixes to improve fiber content.
Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake
Another chocolate cake recipe? Yup. I've added 2 Tbsp of espresso powder dissolved in a 1/4 cup of hot water and 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon to Devil's Food Cake Mix. Once the cake is cooled, I drizzle homemade caramel sauce over the top.
This cake tastes great AND you only dirty one dish to make it! You just need to layer in the ingredients in the order listed in a 13 x 9 greased baking pan. As usual, I've added old fashioned oats to the mix.
1 20 oz can crushed pineapples with juice
1 21 oz can cherry or blueberry pie filling (whole berry cranberry sauce works too)
1 box yellow or butter cake mix
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 - 1 stick unsalted butter, cut up
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
I've also added 1/2 - 1 cup of fresh or frozen berries before adding the cake mix with good results. The complete method of preparation is listed with the Cranberry sauce version of this recipe.
Easy Wedding Cake Icing Variations
Rose Beranbaum's Cake Bible is not a book for beginners by any means. It does offer several simple recipes that will spruce up the flavor of the basic Wedding Cake Icing for Hot and Humid Climates. Note: The pineapple and passionfruit variations aren't super easy, but they offer a great way to incorporate fruit that is abundant for two amazing Brazilian cooks.
Chocolate: 6 oz (170 grams) of melted bittersweet chocolate that's slightly cooled
Coffee/Espresso: 2 Tbsp ( 12 grams) instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 teaspoon (2 grams) boiling water. Allow mixture to cool before incorporating into icing.
Lemon or Lime: Replace 1/4 cup (28 grams) of the water in the Basic Icing recipe with fresh lemon juice. Replace almond extract with almond extract.
Pineapple: Beat 1 cup (100 grams) of homemade pineapple puree into buttercream.
Whole Wheat Pumpkin
Easy Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin pureed with the skin
Got fresh pumpkin puree? Got a box of cake mix? Then you have all you need to make a quick and healthy batch of pumpkin muffins.
CINDYCOSTA'S recipe from allrecipes.com could not be any easier. Try it for yourself.
You know me by now, instead of the 100% cake mix, I used 2 bran muffin mixes (about 7.5 ounces each) and about 1/4 cup of cake mix.
Easy Chocolate Brownie Recipes
S'mores Brownie Cupcakes, makes about 18 cupcakes
A Hershey square melted and roasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham cracker squares is an iconic American sweet treat. I had my first ever bite of a s'mores about a month ago - way too sweet for my taste but the kids loved it. S'mores ingredients have been on sale all summer long and since I have coupons, I thought I give this combination a try.
In any baking recipe of this sort, I like to mix my wet ingredients first to avoid over-mixing the batter. In a large bowl, mix eggs, oil and water. Add flax seed, and brownie mix and marshmallows and stir just until combined. Coat the muffin pan with cooking spray. Drop brownie batter by the rounded tablespoon into the muffin cups (I coated the Tbsp measure with cooking spray too and it make easier to dish out). I filled the cups 3/4 full and baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. In my effort not to go overboard on the calories, I lightly dusted the finished product with powdered sugar. If you want the full s'mores experience, top each brownies with a teaspoon Betty Crocker Hershey Chocolate frosting while they're still warm and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. I made a double batch of brownie mix thinking I wouldn't have enough to fill all the muffin pan. Hadn't calculated volume that marshmallow pieces would contribute. I baked the rest of the batter in a cake pan, but the recipe should give you another 5-6 cupcakes.
(Not so) Red Velvet Brownies
I gladly accepted a worn copy of Jame's Beard's 1972 American Cookery someone gave my mother shortly relocating to Charleston. Devil's Food cake was the common name given what we now know as Red Velvet Cake. It's another classic Southern recipe that gets its name from adding red food color to a chocolate cake base. Beard's cookbook offers traditional recipes that relied on a combination of vinegar or buttermilk with baking soda and Dutch processed cocoa to bring out the red anthocyanin in the powdered cocoa. Recently red food color's been linked to behavioral issues and skin rashes in children, so we opted for a less intense red brown color by adding only 2 teaspoons of food coloring. However, you can go all out and use an entire 1 ounce bottle of red food coloring to achieve the trademark blood red appearance.
Wikipedia recalls the ingenuity of World War II era bakers who used boiled beets to develop the color and moisture in their cakes. Personally, I enjoy topping salads with beets, but one of these days I just might give the old school recipe a try. Despite Wikipedia's reference to a cooked butter roux as an icing, no self respecting Southern baker I know would use anything other than a cream cheese icing for this classic cake.
To make red velvet brownies, simply add the desired amount of red food coloring to the basic recipe on the Betty Crocker brownie box:
Mix and bake batter according to the instructions. Allow brownies to cool and then top it with one of the following cream cheese glazes.
Easy Cheesecake Recipe
I sold many cheesecakes long before starting cooking school. Allow the cream cheese and eggs to reach room temperature before getting started. Using a slight variation of the Philly Cheesecake Classic recipe, the batter is mixed with a wooden spoon. Adding one extra egg boosts the creaminess factor. Placing the springform pan in a larger pan of boiling water (aka bain marie) in a 350 degree oven will keep the cake from cracking while it sets. HEALTH NOTE: An average slice of cheesecake has about 1,000 calories, so keep the portion sizes in check.
Classic Cheesecake Recipe for Springform Pans
In a medium bowl, mix crumbs, sugar and butter until combined. Press crumbs into bottom pan. In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time to this mixture. Pour finished batter into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until set in the middle. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly and loosen rim of pan. Wait until cooled completely before removing rim. Chill for 4 hours before serving.
If you're using store bought graham cracker crusts, the batter should make 2 cheesecakes.
Reduced Fat Cheesecake: Substitute the fat free Neufchatel cream cheese and replace whole eggs with Egg Beaters cut sugar to 1/4 cup. Bake with or without the crust.
Brandy Apple Cheesecake: I was blessed to complete my baking internship with the most talented bunch of bakers at Ambrosia Bakery. Unfortunately, the bakery's closed now, but they had a laundry list of signature desserts. This recipe is my brandy free version of a super popular cheesecake. Use the following oatmeal mixture both as a crust and topping for this dessert. Mix a can of apple pie filling in with the cream cheese sugar mixture then add 1 tsp each vanilla and rum flavor.
Mix crust ingredients and press half on the bottoms and sides of a springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 5-7 minutes or until set. Allow crust to cool before filling. Pour cream cheese mixture into cooled crust and top with remaining oat mix. Bake at 350 degrees or until almost set in the middle.
Almond Cheesecake: Add 1 cup of slivered almonds and 1 tsp almond extract to batter. Ground Pepperidge Farm Chessman Cookies (or any delicate butter cookie) makes an excellent substitution for graham cracker crumbs in the crust.
Cracked Sugar Cookies I
This galley's nourished many missionaries!
As an amazing cook looks to spice up her cookie selections for mission trip snack breaks, I think Pam's Cracked Sugar I recipe from allrecipes.com is one worth testing. If you remember cream of tartar from my food science page, it can be substituted with another acid, like lemon, lime juice, vinegar or even buttermilk.
Possible Variations (if the dough gets dry, add a tiny bit of milk):
Nut cookies: Mix 1/2 cup chopped nuts into the dough.
Cinnamon cookies: Mix 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon into the dough.
Granola cookies: Mix 1/2 cup coarsely chopped granola to dough before chilling and baking.
Need other cookie ideas?