Dinner and lunch are good, but life isn’t quite as enjoyable without something sweet. Some of these recipes are a single serving, some are small batch desserts and treats. The small batch recipes are half- or quarter-size cake recipes for cakes and brownies. They are more than one serving, but just enough for one person to finish over the course of a few days. In other words, no stale cake!
By the way, if you don’t have one, I do recommend getting a small baking dish to make these recipes. A dish that’s about six inches square is perfect.
No mug cakes though. I just don’t think they work well!
This week would have been my dad’s 84th birthday.I thought about writing a tribute post last year, when he died, but I was in no mental condition to do it. And then all hell kept breaking loose and I was too physically and emotionally wrung out to do anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary.However, one thing about my dad: he had a terrible sweet tooth. He loved desserts, chocolate, and pies. Especially pies.Particularly strawberry and blueberry pies. Sadly, I haven’t found the right strawberry pie recipe yet. For some reason, most of them have rhubarb, which he hated, or cream cheese, or even jello?! (nope nope nope) but this mini blueberry hand pie recipe is something he would have loved.
The pies are stuffed with blueberries, they’re sweet, and they taste like long, summer days.
I happen to like the fact that this mini blueberry hand pie recipe makes a bunch of little, one person serving hand-held pies, rather than a single large one.It’s much easier to just eat one, and a hand-held pie is a lot less messy than a standard pie. You don’t need silverware or a plate, you can just pick one up and eat it. They make a wonderful, sweet, summery treat. They’re easy to eat, and easy to pack for lunch or a picnic, without making a big mess. A slice of pie doesn’t travel all that well!
I’ve adapted this recipe from King Arthur, cutting the recipe in half to make four pies, rather than eight. Eight was a bit much! If you don’t have time to finish the recipe all at once, you can make the filling, chill the dough, and then come back to it later. The finished pies will keep well in the fridge for several days, or you can freeze them.
Mini blueberry hand pies that are easy to pack and the perfect size for one person.
1 cup flour (plus more for kneading)
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup cold sour cream
1 cups fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 T plus 2 tsp sugar
small pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 large egg, beaten
Add flour, salt, and baking powder to a medium size bowl. Whisk them all together until they are thoroughly mixed. Add the butter, mixing it together until the mixture is crumbly with pea size pieces of butter.
Now mix in the sour cream. It should end up with chunks of flour/butter/sour cream.
Sprinkle some extra flour onto a counter or board and then dump the flour/butter/sour cream mixture onto the board. Knead it together (just a few turns), to form a dough.
Shape the dough into a log shape (doesn’t have to be perfect or neat). Using a rolling pin, roll the mixture out into a rectangle, about 4 x 5 inches. Sprinkle it with flour, turn it over and sprinkle the other side.
Fold the dough into thirds, starting at one third from the bottom, and then from the middle to the top (like folding a letter into an envelope).
Wrap the “letter” in plastic wrap and put in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.
Rinse and drain the berries and add them to a small saucepan (don’t heat it yet). Whisk the cornstarch and sugar together in a small bowl. Pour the mixture over the berries in the pan. Add the salt, and then the lemon juice, and stir it all together.
Now put the pan on the stove and heat on medium-high. Cook, and stir, until the liquid starts to simmer. Turn the heat down and keep cooking, and stirring, for about five minutes (until it starts to thicken).
Once the blueberries are cooked, take them off the heat and let them come to room temperature. You can do this part in advance, and refrigerate the berry mixture until you are ready to bake. Just let it come to room temperature again before you start.
Preheat the oven to 425, with the rack on a middle shelf.
Take a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.
Roll out the dough into a 7 x 7 inch square. Cut out eight squares, using a knife or a pastry wheel, or a square dough cutter, if you have one.
Put about a tablespoon of filing onto four of the squares and brush some of the beaten egg along the edges.
Cut slits into the remaining four squares and then place one slitted square over each filled one. Push along the edges, using a fork, to create a seal.
Take the rest of the beaten egg and brush it along the top of each mini pie and then place the pies on the baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the pies for 18 to 20 minutes. They should turn a light brown. Take them out of the oven, and let them cool a bit (about 20 minutes or so) before you eat one.
They’ll stay in the fridge or a week or so or keep at room temperature (wrapped loosely) for a few days. Or, you can freeze them to eat later.
Let’s face it, most pear tart recipes are complicated. You have to make the dough, then let it rest. Next you have to pre-bake the crust, or maybe go out and get some frozen puff pastry. I’ve even seen recipes calling for making the puff pastry at home (not happening). Or, there are recipes requiring a traditional full-blown pie crust. I have a lovely apple pie recipe I hardly ever make because it’s just too much fussing. This rustic pear tart, on the other hand, is fairly easy and straightforward.
You don’t have to crimp the edges, or pre-bake the crust. You don’t even have to cook the pears in advance. I saw one recipe that had 22 steps! Nope. Nope. Nope. This recipe is much easier than that! There are only six steps. Much better! The active time is about 15 minutes of work, and the whole thing is done in about an hour and a half (including resting in the fridge and baking).
First you make the dough. That’s only six basic ingredients you likely already have at home. Then, you let it cool in the refrigerator for an hour, and press out the dough into a roughly circular shape. Next, add the fruit, sprinkle the spices on top, and bake.
I’ve made this tart with pears, because I had some extremely ripe pears I wanted to use up. If you don’t have pears, or would rather use something else, apples will work beautifully too. And, both are in season now. Once summer comes back around, you might try it with peaches or maybe plums too.
The original recipe (which I cut in half) required a food processor. If you don’t have one, you can use a pastry cutter or two sharp knives instead. I have included instructions for both.
1 small egg yolk (if you have only large eggs, separate the egg yolk and white, and then pour off half the yolk)
2-3 T cold water
2-3 pears, cored and sliced thinly
1 T brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground ginger
If you have a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt to the food processor bowl and pulse for a second or two. If not, add the ingredients to a mixing bowl.
Cut up 4T of the butter into pieces, and add that to the bowl. Then add the egg yolk. Pulse (for the food processor) for about 10 seconds until it's all mixed together. If using a bowl, cut the butter up with a pastry cutter or two knives. It should be the size of small peas. Then mix everything together.
Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is moist enough to form a ball. Then wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Take the ball out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Let the dough warm up as the oven comes to temperature. This will make it easier to handle. Pat the dough into a rough circle, pushing outward from the middle with your hands. Then place it on a non-stick cookie sheet (if you don't have one, line it with parchment paper).
Arrange the pear slices on top. You can line them up carefully, or just toss them casually on the crust. Sprinkle the tart with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Then add the remaining butter, cut up into little pieces, and dot the tart with it.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until the crust gets brown and the fruit is juicy and tender. Top with whipped cream or ice cream.
Rustic Pear Tart Substitutions and Variations
Don’t have pears? Make this with apples instead (or try peaches in the summer)
Add some green cardamom to the tart (along with the other spices)
Replace some of the flour with ground almond meal
Add a little Reisling or other dessert wine to the filling
I’m told it’s popsicle week this week, and who am I to argue? It’s barely summer but NY has already hit “swelter season.” That means it’s what we call 3H weather: hazy, hot, and humid. Strawberry banana yogurt popsicles are sweet, cold, and have no additional sugar added. They’re the perfect summer treat when the temperature hits “Oh no, you gotta be kidding me!” There’s also no cooking or heating anything involved; ideal when it’s just too warm and sticky to face a hot stove.
All you have to do is measure the ingredients, blend everything together, and then freeze. About 2 hours later, you’ve got a great snack.
I adapted the recipe slightly from one I found online here. The original recipe was for 10 pops, which is way too much. So, I cut it in half. I also used strawberries instead of mixed berries. It’s the height of strawberry season and they are outrageously delicious!
I have a four-pop mold popsicle set, which holds about three ounces each. I’ve had them for years, which is both great and annoying. Great because they’ve held up well; annoying because since the pops all insert into one tray, it’s hard to get only one pop at a time. I’d much rather have something like this, which is designed to make it easier to get one pop out at a time.
Some molds are bigger (or smaller), so the final number of pops you get will depend on the size of the mold you have. If you don’t have a mold at all, you can pour the mixture into an ice cube tray and stick toothpicks in it. That will give you a dozen bite size mini-pops instead.
This design makes it far easier to get one popsicle at a time. Each mold sits in its own individual slot, so you don’t have to struggle to get just one pop. There’s also a little tiny brush to clean them with. Or, just put them in the dishwasher.
If you really want to get fancy, try out this juice pop maker. Freeze the container ahead of time, then add the ingredients, and you’ll get a tasty frozen treat in just 7 minutes. It doesn’t even need electricity. Note that this will only work with sugar-sweetened pops (not sugar-free or artificial sweeteners).
In keeping with last week’s theme of indulgence, here’s a bit more. Because it’s the holiday season, and why not? This recipe, which I adapted from Tina’s Cookings, was billed as a thick European-style hot chocolate, which is sort of a runny pudding you can drink. That’s not quite what I got. Instead, I got a single serving double dark chocolate pudding recipe. Even better! I’m not sure if I transposed it incorrectly (her measurements are metric), but I did it twice and got the same result.
In any case, this is rich, decadent, and utterly delicious! And since it’s seriously bitter cold outside, warm pudding (or hot chocolate is perfect).
So why not give yourself a little treat? We’ve all been working hard over the holidays, and we all deserve a reward.
Make sure to use high quality chocolate and cocoa to make this. I used Cadbury Bourneville cocoa and Trader Joe’s Belgian chocolate (which is really Callebaut in a clever disguise). It’s worth it!
If you use the Callebaut callets (essentially chocolate chips), you’ll need about 2 or 3 oz (by weight). Then you don’t have to break up the chocolate and it will melt faster.
It’s officially fall, so that means it’s also officially apple season! This easy one serving apple crisp recipe really satisfies that apple craving, while indulging your sweet tooth at the same time. I had a serious hankering for something sweet, but not too gooey, and this hits the spot.
Try to use apples that are large, crisp, and juicy, but not too sweet. I am lucky enough to have access to a greenmarket with a farmer who grows 75 kinds of apples. So, I used Esopus Spitzenberg (supposedly Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple). If you don’t have 75 kinds of apples, Granny Smith or Mutsu or similar will do just fine.
The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar (for 12 servings), which was waaay too much. Every other recipe I saw used half that. So, I followed suit and cut it in half. It’s still sweet and delicious, without endangering your teeth.
A mini chopper is essentially a food processor’s little cousin. This is perfect for grinding up the oatmeal in this recipe. And, it takes up a lot less space than a food processor. It’s great for chopping nuts, dicing onions, making pesto, or even grinding a small batch of meat for meatballs.
This dish is ideal for baking smaller casseroles, cakes, crisps, and crumbles. Use it for brownies, peach crumble or a mini-meatloaf. It’s perfectly content in the oven, the dishwasher, and the microwave. And, it also takes up very little space in your cupboard.
It’s so hot and sticky in NY you can practically swim in the air. Bleah! Even I don’t want to turn on the stove in this weather. When it feels like 100 degrees outside, dinner is a no cook meal. After dinner, it’s this frozen mango yogurt dessert recipe. It’s super-easy to make. And, you don’t need an ice cream machine or any special equipment either (a blessing in a small kitchen). An ordinary blender (or a stick blender) will do just fine. You also don’t have to add any sugar or honey. The recipe gets its sweetness entirely from the natural sugars in the fruit.
I’ve adapted this from Foodaholic’s frozen lemon ginger mango recipe. She made enough for a family (I didn’t), and I also changed her technique slightly. She freezes the yogurt and the fruit separately and then blends them together. I found it got much too hard that way. And, it’s an extra container to wash. So, I just put it all in the blender and hit the button. She is right that the yogurt must be thick (Greek yogurt works best), and that it will crystallize if you leave it in the freezer too long.
If you can get good fresh mangoes, use them! If you can’t, or if you are lazy and don’t want the fuss and mess of peeling and cutting them, buy the frozen mangoes from Trader Joe’s. Take out what you need and let the fruit defrost slightly before trying to put it in the blender.
I’ve been craving pear bread ever since I saw some in the store the other day. Funny how that happens. The store version was much too big for one person, so I ran to the Internet.I started out thinking I would make the Smitten Kitchen pear bread recipe.But, that turned out to make two loaves. I’d never be able to eat two loaves of bread before it went stale. Even a single, full-size loaf was more than I wanted, especially for an experiment. So I kept looking. Then I found that Desserts for Two had a banana bread recipe that, with some tweaking, would do nicely.So, ginger pear bread was born.
I didn’t want to play around with reducing the sugar, but I was concerned that 3 tablespoons of sugar plus the honey plus the pears would be too sweet. So, I balanced the sweetness of the pears with the bite of some cinnamon and a bit of ground ginger.Ginger is both sweet and spicy, depending on what other flavors you combine it with.
I topped the whole thing with some chopped almonds for a bit of nutty crunch.They were supposed to go in the bread mixture, but I forgot!
One warning though, when you finish mixing the combined ingredients, the result will look a bit odd before you bake it. However, the finished bread is delicious.
This Greek Yogurt Chocolate Cake has got everything a cake needs: chocolate, chocolate chips, and a gooey chocolate center. I would have left it at that, but then I remembered my local bakery’s chocolate blackout cupcakes. Those cupcakes have chocolate cake, a chocolate icing center, and then more icing on top! Yes! If it’s good enough for cupcakes, it’s definitely good enough for cake.
I found this recipe on dessert for two.Since it’s already a small portion, I didn’t change it much, but I did make a few tweaks.
Because I don’t use cooking spray, I prepared my mini baking pan with butter and a dusting of flour.
Keep Your Cake From Sticking
Just rub the butter over the bottom and sides of the pan, then sprinkle flour over it and spread it around with a butter knife.
Also, I didn’t have chocolate chips, so I cut up part of a bar of chocolate with a large knife (a mini-chopper would work too). Since I was going to add the icing, I cut the amount of “chips” to 1/4 cup. I don’t like espresso powder, particularly not with chocolate, so I left that out.
Finally, I topped it all with a ganache topping, which is simply equal parts chocolate bar and butter.Just combine 2 oz. of chocolate with 2 oz. of butter and melt that gently in a small saucepan.Let it cool for fifteen minutes (or it will just soak in to your cake and disappear) and then and spread it over the top of your cake. If you want, you can add a splash of vanilla extract to the mixture.
Since this is a small cake, you don’t need to use your mixer. You can easily make the whole thing by hand in a single medium-size bowl.
It’s getting harder and harder to find these in the stores. They’re all too wide: fine for turning fish or an egg, but useless for scraping cake batter out of your mixing bowl or spreading icing. Since they are silicone, they’re more heat-resistant than rubber would be. They’re also dishwasher safe and have built-in holes for hanging.
It’s the holiday season, so that means it’s also dessert season. Whether you’re having company, or just treating yourself, this poached pear recipe with chocolate sauce and ice cream is going to be a hit. The long name makes it sound kind of complicated, but it’s really easy.
First, you poach the pears by letting them simmer gently in a bit of sugar and water. Let them cool off a bit, then put them on a plate with ice cream and drizzle chocolate syrup over them. It feels like you’re doing something fancy for company, but you don’t have to share!
Pears were on sale this week(three pounds for only three dollars!), and I just couldn’t resist making this recipe. I used Bosc pears but Bartlett or Anjou will work just fine.
The pears were exceptionally sweet, and that plus the sugar, and the ice cream made the original recipe (from The New York Times cookbook), a bit cloying. Sweet is good, but not that sweet, so I reduced the sugar. The full amount of sugar is 1/4 cup. Use that if your pears aren’t that good. If you have sweet, juicy pears, cut the sugar by a teaspoon or two.
Poached pears with chocolate sauce and ice cream. A fancy-looking dessert that's easy to make.
2/3 C water
1/4 C sugar, minus one or two teaspoons
1/3 tsp vanilla extract
One scoop vanilla ice cream
Drizzle chocolate syrup (a teaspoon or two)
Peel the pear, cut it in half, and remove the core with a paring knife.
Add the water and sugar to a small saucepan (less than one quart) and stir the mixture to combine them together.
Turn the flame to medium and bring the sugar/water mixture to a boil.
Once it's boiling, add the pear halves, and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Let them simmer for three minutes. Turn the halves over and then simmer for another two minutes. Test to see if they're soft enough. If they are, a small knife should go through the pieces easily.
Add the vanilla extract, stir it into the mixture and let everything cool for 15-20 minutes.
To serve, add a scoop of ice cream to a plate, then the pear halves, then drizzle chocolate syrup (or hot fudge sauce) on top.
This takes about 15 minutes to cook, but allow time for the pear halves to cool off after you cook them.
Substitutions and Variations for Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Ice Cream
Sprinkle some sliced or slivered almonds on top of the pears
Poach the pears with a pinch of ginger and a slice of lemon
Make your own hot chocolate sauce: combine 1/2 C cocoa, 1 C sugar, 1 C light corn syrup, 1/2 C light cream, 1/4 tsp salt, and 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly until it boils. When it’s boiling merrily, you can cut back to stirring only occasionally. Let it boil for three minutes. Take the pan off the burner and add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Serve the sauce warm over the pears. You can store the rest in the refrigerator and serve it with more pears, or over ice cream. Or, be really decadent and serve it over small batch brownies.
It’s apple season! It’s also the time of year when it’s traditional to eat apples and honey (for a sweet Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year). I brought a full batch of this cinnamon sugar apple bread to my brother’s house for the holiday. They gobbled it up! Pretty good, considering it was competing with mom’s New York cheesecake.
I originally planned to post the entire recipe, which I adapted from Cookies and Cups. Then I remembered (duh), that this is the “single serving chef” blog, and the portions should be smaller!
I have reduced the sugar and the vanilla, because the original recipe was far too sweet for me. The result is a delicious, and easy to make quick bread (think banana bread, but with apples rather than bananas), that’s full of apple flavor and topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.
If you can get them, use a Canville Blanc D’Hiver apple (which is a French tart apple). If not, Granny Smith, Mutsu, or GingerGold will work well. You want an apple that’s firm, crisp, and not too sweet.
I once accidentally made this with cayenne (!) instead of cinnamon. I mention it because it was much better than I would have expected. I’m not sure I’d do it again deliberately, but it did give me an idea (see the substitutions section).
A rich, delicious cake full of apples and dusted with cinnamon sugar. Serve it warm or cold. It's great topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato.
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 C flour
1/4 C butter (half a stick), at room temperature
6 T light brown sugar
4T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C milk
1 tart apple, peeled and diced
1/4 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the toaster oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour a small baking dish.
Mix the salt, baking powder, and flour in a small bowl.
Beat the butter, sugars, and cinnamon in your mixer until the mixture is fluffy. If you have a KitchenAid, this should take about a minute, on speed 2. If not, mix on medium speed for two minutes, scraping down the sides.
Add the egg and vanilla, and mix another few seconds (KitchenAid), or about a minute for standard mixers, scraping the sides.
On low speed, alternately add the flour and the milk. Start with some flour, then some milk, then flour, then milk, then flour again. You should begin and end with flour.
Add the chopped apple, and stir just enough to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon together in a small ramekin and sprinkle over the batter.
Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Substitutions and Variations for Cinnamon Sugar Apple Bread
Add 1/2 tsp ground ginger to make the cake a bit spicy
Give it a bit of a kick with some brandy or Calvados
If you’re brave, or like spicy sweets, go for the cayenne
Top the bread with bourbon sauce (2 T bourbon, 1/4 C sugar, 2 T butter, heated in a small pan) instead of the cinnamon/sugar.