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!
It’s the holiday season, so that means it’s also dessert season. Whether you’re having company, or just treating yourself, this recipe for poached pears 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.
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.
I’m having a grand time with these mini loaf pans. They allow me to make “half-size recipes” without a lot of leftovers. And I don’t have to worry about having bread or cake going stale before I can finish it. Just take a recipe for a single loaf of bread, divide the dough in half, and you have two mini-breads. Perfect!
The peaches are particularly good this summer, so I’ve been buying them like a crazy woman. They’re so good, even my dad (who didn’t like peaches) was gobbling them down. Then, of course, I have to figure out what to do with them all! Some get eaten fresh (with lots of napkins). A few more went for chicken with peaches and basil. The rest get turned into this peach crumble recipe.
Traditionally, the difference between cobbler, crumble, and crisp was the topping. Fruit cobblers had a biscuity topping (using an egg). To make a crumble, you topped it with a butter and flour mixture (think coffee cake). A fruit crisp topping had oats. Now, it’s all mixed up and also seems to depend on what part of the country you live in.
Whatever you call it, peach crumble is easy to make. Just mix the peach base in one bowl and the crumble topping in another. Since it’s a small portion, you don’t even have to pull out the mixer.
Note that I have reduced the sugar a bit. Add more if you like sweeter desserts (or if your peaches aren't sweet enough).
1 large peach (about one cup)
2 1/2 tsp sugar
1 T melted butter
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 C flour
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
pinch cinnamon (generous pinch)
skimpy pinch kosher salt
2 T butter (cold)
Preheat the toaster oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a 6.5 inch square shallow baking dish with butter and flour. Rub a stick of butter along the bottom and sides of the dish, and sprinkle it with flour. This will prevent the crumble from sticking to the pan.
Slice the peach and place it in a small bowl.
Add the sugar, salt, melted butter, and lemon juice.
Mix it all together with a spoon.
In another bowl, combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter. Mix it up with your fingers and crumble it into small pieces. The pieces should be roughly the size of peas.
Putting the Peach Crumble together
Pour the peach mixture into the prepared pan. Top that with the crumble mixture.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Serve topped with vanilla ice cream or vanilla sweetened whipped cream.
It doesn’t get any simpler than this. These one ingredient juice popsicles are refreshing, delicious and the perfect treat on a hot, hot summer’s day!
When I was a kid, my mom used to make us juice pops during the summer. She had some plastic molds with removable tops. You just pour in the juice, put the top on, wait a few hours, and voilà, a healthy, refreshing, frozen snack.
They were a big hit with the neighborhood kids too (who probably had no idea they were eating something good for them).
When I saw juice pops in the store as an adult, I initially got excited. Then I looked at the ingredients: water, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, potassium lord knows what.
Simple, Easy One Ingredient Juice Popsicles
All you really need to make delicious juice pops is juice (and popsicle molds). That’s it. I’m putting this under dessert because it’s sweet, but really you can eat it any time you like.
I’ve used cranberry grape juice to make my juice pops, but any juice will do: grape, orange, pineapple. Sometimes mom would mix the flavors to make orange pineapple, or apple grape. There are far more options now, so you could make them with strawberry orange banana juice if you like.
If you want to get fancy, add a few slices of fruit to your juice popsicles.
Just pick your favorite juice flavor and start freezing!
Tools and Ingredients for Juice Pops
I have this set, but I don’t recommend it. It’s too hard to get one pop at a time! For better (or worse) they haven’t cracked or broken, so I can’t bring myself to replace them. I recommend you try the molds below instead.
This is the closest thing I can find to the molds mom had when I was a kid. Hers were plain, clear plastic, but these have grooves and pretty colors. Plus, unlike the set I currently have, it’s easy to get one pop at a time. Fill the molds, pop the top on and freeze. The waiting is the hardest part!
If you really want to get fancy, try out this juice pop maker. Freeze the pop maker ahead of time, then add the ingredients, and you’ll get tasty pops 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)
I was in the mood for something sweet with my morning coffee one weekend. After some thought, I settled on a Greek yogurt coffee cake. The trouble was, I didn’t have a recipe I liked, and most of the small batch recipes for coffee cake I found were the sort of thing you make in a mug, which I didn’t want.
I have tried a few of those and did not like them. I wanted something made from scratch, in a real pan, in the oven. That way, the flavors have time to meld, and the flour/sugar/fat can work their magic.
I found a great recipe for sour cream coffee cake muffins (for two), but that required a muffin pan. I got rid of mine because I never used it and it was taking up valuable kitchen space. The funny thing is, she said she decided to make the recipe as muffins instead of a cake since most people have muffin tins. So, I had to revert to her original plan and make a single small batch dessert coffee cake instead!
I made a few other changes too. The topping sounded delicious, but much too sweet for me, so I decided to cut the sugar she called for in half.
Next, since I have a Kitchenaid mixer, I only mixed the oil and sugar for two minutes, rather than four. Because I usually have Greek yogurt in the fridge, but not sour cream, or heavy cream, I used that instead. You can use the traditional sour cream if you prefer.
Because my mini baking pan is porcelain, and I didn’t want the batter to stick, buttered and floured it before I added the cake mixture.
Since I was baking a single, solid small cake instead of muffins, I also reduced the cooking temperature and increased the baking time slightly.
The result was a delicious, not too sweet, crumbly, cinnamony cake that was just perfect for a weekend treat.
I have been using this dish quite a lot. It’s great for this cake, for my small batch brownies, and a single serving of apple crisp. And, it’s dishwasher safe, if you have one. If there’s any leftover cake, the dish can also go in the microwave, if you want to reheat it.
There’s nothing like a fresh batch of warm, slightly gooey brownies to make a cold day seem more cheerful. The trouble is that most recipes make dozens of brownies, which is way too much! This recipe is for a small batch of brownies, made with cocoa powder. So, you don’t even have to go out and buy baking chocolate or special ingredients.
I made it in my new favorite little baking dish (it’s about 6.5 inches square, instead of 8 or 10, so it’s perfect for baking small batches).
The other great thing about this recipe is that you only need one bowl to make it. Just put everything in the bowl, mix it all up, pour it in the dish, and bake.
I don’t know where the original recipe came from, but I did cut down the sugar a bit and change the sugar it used. As written, it called for all brown sugar. It also said to use an entire cup of sugar. I thought that was a bit much for a small portion, and I also thought that all brown sugar would be too sweet. I used half granulated sugar and half brown sugar, and reduced the total to 2/3 C (1/3 C each kind of sugar).
I still think that’s a bit sweet, so I may reduce it to 1/4C of each the next time. However, since I know I tend to like less sugar than many other people, I’ll leave the larger amount here in the recipe.
Tools and Ingredients for Small Batch Brownies with Cocoa Powder
First, you’ll need a small baking pan. Since this is a small-batch recipe, using a large one will likely cause the brownies to get overcooked and burn. It’s not just for brownies though. Use it for a small lasagna, for quiche, or to bake a small coffee cake.
The next important thing is the cocoa. Use a high quality brand, such as Cadbury or Droste if you can.
Cadbury Bournville Cocoa
This is what I used to make my brownies. It’s dark, rich, and delicious (makes great hot cocoa too). It is a bit pricey, but it lasts forever so long as you keep it in a cool, dark place, away from anything damp.
For this, or any other recipe that calls for it, make sure to use genuine vanilla. Not “vanilla flavored,” but the real thing. The artificial stuff is made from wood! It’s a large bottle, and since you don’t use much vanilla in most recipes, it should last a long time.
This easy pear crepe dessert recipe is ready in just a few minutes, without a lot of fuss and bother. It’s nearly winter, the temperatures are dropping, and it’s the perfect time for a holiday treat.
The pears were still fresh at the greenmarket, so I pounced.
You’re probably wondering how the words “crepe” and easy go together. After all, crepes are a bit of a pain to make from scratch. It takes a bit of work to get going (even if you’re accustomed to it) and it’s not really practical to make just one.
The secret is that I didn’t use a standard crepe recipe, or even a crepe recipe at all. I used a very thin, whole wheat tortilla instead. That meant I could cook it quickly, and didn’t have to worry about extra crepes lying around.
The rest of the tortillas will be used for another day’s dessert, for wraps, and turkey enchiladas (next week’s recipe). And, since the tortilla is sturdier than a real crepe, it holds together better, and I can fill it with more pear! I haven’t tried it yet, but it might also work well with bananas.
These tongs are great for flipping tortillas, turning steaks, or transferring chicken or fish cutlets from pan to plates. They lock in place when you put them away, so they won’t take up lots of space in your drawer or gadget holder.
This is a classic, simple frying pan that’s just the right size for tortillas, a couple of fried eggs, fajitas, or vegetables. It’s not non-stick, but I found that my non-stick pans started peeling (!) and and didn’t hold up so I got rid of them. This is better. Turn the flame on, heat the pan, add the oil or butter, and then add your food. You can even put it in the oven (just don’t broil it).
Check out these Single Serving and Small Batch Pear Recipes
I started making this easy chocolate mousse recipe when I was 14 or so. It’s now (cough, ahem, mumble) years later, and I’m still doing it.
The original recipe came from Seventeen magazine. It was so easy that I made it for my friends (even hosted a party) and served it to my parents.
This is still remembered today as the infamous, “Jodi, you make dinner tonight episode:” all my favorites — fettucine alfredo and chocolate mousse. I’ve now learned to make much more complicated desserts (chocolate and otherwise), but this easy recipe is still a big favorite.
The recipe is so easy, a kid can make it. You don’t have to separate eggs, or follow lots of complicated instructions. There are only 5 ingredients: a chocolate bar, heavy cream, water, vanilla, and an egg.
If you can boil water, you can make this chocolate mousse. The only tools you need are a blender, a measuring cup, a measuring spoon, and a spatula.
This page (which was originally on Squidoo) has the original recipe, along with several delicious variations. Scroll down to find the one you want.
Make your mousse extra special with Green & Black’s extra dark chocolate. It’s smooth, intense, and super-chocolatey. Use it in this recipe, or just eat one or two squares right out of the package. And, all that dark chocolate is actually good for you.
This vanilla from Nielsen-Massey is real vanilla. It costs more than standard vanilla because the plants are pollinated by hand. It takes 9 months for the beans to mature. After that, the beans must be immersed in an alcohol solution to eventually produce vanilla extract.
The fake stuff is cheaper. Want to know why? It’s because it’s made by soaking wood in alcohol. Who wants to eat wood?
I first saw a cinnamon sugar banana recipe similar to this being passed around on Pinterest. My initial thought was that the combination sounded delicious.
When I took a closer look, it had bananas, cinnamon, sugar, and olive oil spray?! Huh? Sorry, but they lost me there. However the rest of it sounded good, so I decided to put my own spin on it.
First thing I did was to ditch the olive oil spray and replace it with butter. I didn’t use a lot, only one teaspoon. Next I thought a bit of brandy would add flavor and punch, and since I had a tiny bit left I added that too.
I usually buy a bottle of inexpensive brandy for this sort of thing, no sense using something expensive if it’s not necessary. On the other hand, if all you have is top shelf liquor, you won’t need much, so you don’t have to feel guilty about it. And, it will likely taste even better.
So, a little butter, some cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, the banana, brandy, and just a touch of sugar and I had a delicious, easy dessert for one.
My mom got this recipe for New York cheesecake from a family friend in the cream cheese business. It’s a home kitchen version of the original Lindy’s cheesecake – which has been a New York institution since 1921.
In fact, Lindy’s (along with Junior’s) made New York cheesecake famous. It’s got sour cream, cream cheese, and heavy cream, so it’s very rich and very creamy. Everyone who has tried it (friends, family, co-workers) says it’s the best cheesecake they ever had! When my brother got married, this recipe was the first one his wife asked for.
A few years ago, when I was visiting my friend Betsy, she served me cheesecake for breakfast. It was the best breakfast ever!
I had originally posted this recipe on Squidoo, but now that Squidoo is gone and I have my own blog, I have republished it here.
A rich, creamy NY cheesecake based on Lindy's famous recipe.
1 hour, 16 minutes
1 hour, 46 minutes
Do not mix at high speed and don't overmix. If you do, the cake will overflow the pan. The bad news: the texture will be off (too light and fluffy). The good news: you can use the extra to make cheesecake cupcakes.
Also, cooking time listed at top doesn't include the resting period.
6 large eggs
1 1/2 C sugar
2 lbs. (four 8 ounce packages)
cream cheese, preferably Kraft's
1/2 pint sour cream
1/2 pint heavy cream
juice of one lemon
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 heaping Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 C crushed vanilla wafers (you can also use crushed graham crackers, or
6 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 C sugar
Preheat oven to to 425°.
Add eggs, sugar, cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, lemon juice, vanilla, and flour to mixer. Beat (on low to to low-medium speed) thoroughly, until completely smooth.
While cake mixture is beating, make the crust.
Mix crust ingredients together in small mixing bowl. Pour into 9" springform pan, pressing into place with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
When crust is cool, and cake is thoroughly mixed, pour batter into the pan over the back of a big spoon, so the batter does not disturb the crust. Let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes.
Bake in 425° oven for 15 minutes. Then turn oven down to 275° and bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven. Do not open the oven door for 2 hours! After the 2 hours are up, remove cake and refrigerate.
This cheesecake is thick and rich. You’ll need a Kitchenaid mixer or other powerful mixer to make it. A low-powered or hand-held mixer won’t work. KitchenAid Five Quart Stand Mixer
The reason this mixer works so well is because it has dual spinning action (planetary motion), which means it spins both on the beater’s axis, and around the bowl. That means it mixes faster and you get more mixing power than ordinary mixers. You also don’t have to keep scraping down the sides of the bowl. You spend less time mixing and more time enjoying your cheesecake.
Some poor fellow tried to make this recipe by hand. It took him two days to mix it! I bet his arm was awfully sore.
If you don’t already have one, you’ll need a springform pan. This one, by Calphalon, is perfect for cheesecake. It’s extra thick to distribute heat evenly, so your cheesecake will cook properly. The fluted base means it won’t leak. Makes cooking cheesecake easy (and a lot less messy).
Best Cheesecake Recipe Toppings
You can eat your cheesecake plain, garnish it with fresh berries, or go all out and make a topping.
Blueberry Cheesecake Topping
1/2 C sugar
3 T cornstarch
1 pint fresh blueberries (or use frozen)
2 T lemon juice
1 T butter.
Combine everything except the butter in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until it gets thick. Add the butter and let cool.
2 C raspberries
1 C sugar
1 T cornstarch
Combine berries, sugar, and some water. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes. In a separate, small bowl, mix the cornstarch and a little water. Add to the berry mixture. Cook, stirring, for five minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
Temperature control is critical when baking cheesecake. Too high, and your cake will be hard and dry, more likely to weep (pull out all the moisture) or crack; too low and it will fall apart. Get this thermometer to check your oven and make sure your cheesecake comes out perfect!
Chocolate Ganache Cheesecake Topping
1 C heavy cream
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
Melt chocolate and cream over very low heat (or use a double boiler). Stir constantly until smooth and thick. Pour it over a chilled cheesecake. Spread quickly before it hardens. Once the cake is covered with chocolate, return to the fridge to set. Keep any leftover ganache in the refrigerator, covered. If you want to reuse it, reheat it gently.
1 pint strawberries
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Chop the strawberries. Set aside about 1/3. Add the remaining berries to a saucepan with the sugar and vanilla. Cook over medium high heat. Stir occasionally, until it thickens. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender (or use a regular blender). Then add the uncooked berries, and serve over your cake.
(Topping recipes adapted from Baking 911)
Cheesecake Baking Tips
Keep the oven door closed and it shouldn’t crack.
Cheesecake keeps well in the fridge and freezer.
Make it ahead and defrost when you need it.
A Note on Measurements
For anyone confused about the measurements (why 1/2 pint instead of 1 cup), it’s because pints and cups are different depending on whether it’s a liquid or solid volume of measure (yeah, it’s confusing), so a half pint of sour cream is not the same quantity as a 1/2 pint of heavy cream.
It’s also easier to measure that way, since the heavy cream comes in half pints and the sour cream comes in pints (just pour the entire container of cream, or half the container of sour cream, into the mixture).
If you don’t have sour cream where you live, you can use crema salvadorena instead.
After Lindy’s, there’s Junior’s, born in Brooklyn, and now famous worldwide. This cookbook has recipes for all of Junior’s best-selling varieties, from Strawberry Swirl to Cappuccino to Peanut Butter and Jelly!
This guide to all things baking tells you not only what to do, but why. For example, it explains how the temperature of your ingredients can affect the final result (particularly important in baking), and when to use different fats (oil, butter, shortening). Each step is easy to understand and follow, whether you’re a beginner or an expert.
There’s just nothing like making your own fresh pasta. It’s more tender than the dried version, and cooks much faster too. It’s ideal for creamy or buttery sauces. Use it for alfredo, but skip the bolognese.
The smell of freshly baking bread is enough to make anyone immediately hungry (even if you just ate). And, you don’t even need special tools. Just use the beater (and/or the dough hook) packed with your mixer. Instructions for baguettes, whole wheat, potato, challah, and more at the link.
Commercial ice cream is easy to buy, but it also tends to have fillers and thickeners (to keep the costs down). But, if you make your own, you don’t have to wonder exactly what’s in your ice cream. You’ll know, because you did it yourself. And you can make the exact flavor you want (like oreo, or double ginger).