Holiday Treats and Desserts for One Person

Sure the holidays can be stressful. And this year brings that to a whole new level. But we can still enjoy ourselves, even if we can’t do it with others. And that means dessert!

And, as I mentioned last week, everyone enjoys dessert, regardless of which holiday(s) you celebrate.

I have gathered a few seasonal favorites here, including chocolate cake, brownies (top them with chocolate sauce and ice cream for a decadent treat), bananas with brandy, pear crepes, and super-easy chocolate mousse. They’re all easy and uncomplicated. Yes, even the crepes. I cheat. Shhh.

Now, I admit the mousse is technically four servings. However, in 2020, I think what’s normally four servings counts as just one! Also, if you freeze it, it comes out tasting like chocolate fudge ice cream.

If you’re pairing these with sparkling wine or champagne, the champagne goes really well with fruit desserts. The chocolate is a bit trickier, but you want a wine that’s sweeter than the chocolate. Try a fruity sparkling rosé.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2021! Goodbye 2020 and good riddance!

greek yogurt chocolate cakeTriple Chocolate Cake

Want chocolate? Want lots of it? This cake has three kinds: cocoa, chocolate chips, and a super easy ganache on top. Because it’s 2020, and we need chocolate!

 

 

cinnamon sugar bananasCinnamon Sugar Bananas with Brandy

This dessert is ready in minutes, with little fuss. Make it as is, or add chocolate sauce, or ice cream. Or, swap the brandy for some rum.

 

 

 

pear dessert crepeEasy Pear Crepe Dessert Recipe for One Person

Making proper crepes is tricky and requires a lot of practice. My way is easy. I cheat. Great by itself or topped with  ice cream.

 

easy chocolate mousseEasy Chocolate Mousse

One of the first recipes I ever made. It’s only got five basic ingredients. And it is really super-easy. None of the complicated usual mousse steps. You never have to separate a single egg, or put anything in a double boiler. Easy, delicious, and chocolate. What more could you want?

Home Alone for the Holidays 2020 – Festive Cooking for One Person

Instead of being together in person, we’re on Zoom. Rather than lots of people gathered in mom’s or grandma’s or a friend’s kitchen, we’re eating and celebrating solo.

So, I decided to do something a bit different and create a holiday/celebration menu. We’ll start with zucchini carrot fritters. Then, rather than the usual links to recipes with similar ingredients, I’ve included options for the rest of a festive meal, from entrees to desserts.

Since we’re celebrating different holidays, with different rules and traditions, I’ve picked foods that are easy, elegant and delicious.

You can eat the fritters as an appetizer, or a main course.  If they are the meal, start with some simple hors d’oeuvres, such as wine, cheese, olives, and fruit. For a festive, easy treat, add a bit of milk to some goat cheese, and roll it in chopped almonds.

Chanukah

zucchini carrot fritters

Zucchini Carrot Fritters

If you celebrate Chanukah, it’s traditional to have fried foods, usually latkes (potato pancakes) or donuts to celebrate the miracle of one day’s worth of oil that lasted for eight.  Instead of latkes, I thought I would go for something a bit different: zucchini carrot fritters. Rather than traditional sour cream or applesauce eaten with latkes, these are served with a yogurt and mint dip.  Still fried though! Some things don’t change!*

*Yeah, I know. Chanukah is over as I type this, but my family never did it on time!

Christmas/New Year’s

For Christmas or New Year’s, since a whole turkey or ham is too much for one, I’ve included a pork tenderloin, and some sides. If you do get a turkey breast or some smaller portion and have leftovers, make my turkey pot pie.

Dessert for Everyone!

Regardless of which you celebrate, everyone gets dessert: choice of pears with ice cream or chocolate pudding.  Because who doesn’t like dessert?

And, to paraphrase what my grandma said about everyday eating, just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a party and delicious food.

Festive Holiday Recipes

Main Dishes (Christmas/New Year’s)

pork tenderloin with mushrooms and sour creamPork Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Sour Cream

Tenderloin is quick, easy, and cooks in a few minutes. The sauce is rich and creamy, with the bite of Dijon mustard and the sweet/sour capers. The perfect sauce for pork.

 

turkey pot pie for one personTurkey Pot Pie for One Person

Just right for one person, without creating even more extra food. If you don’t have extra turkey, get it pre-cooked from your local deli.  Made with a rich, all-butter crust. Because why not?

Side Dishes (Christmas/New Year’s)

skin on garlic mashed potatoesSkin On Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Creamy and sweet/savory all at once. Cooking the garlic with the potatoes mellows and softens the sharp flavor. This is a family favorite (especially with my sister-in-law, the mashed potato fiend).

 

honey mustard glazed carrotsHoney Mustard Glazed Carrots for One

The sweet carrots and savory mustard are a delightful combination. This pairs wonderfully with the pork, or a simple piece of roast chicken.

Desserts (any occasion!)

poached pears with chocolate sauce and ice creamPoached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Ice Cream

Easy, delicious, and really quite simple to prepare.  Elegant enough for company, but a lot less fuss than you’d think.

 

single serving double dark chocolate pudding recipeSingle Serving Double Dark Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Just one indulgent serving of rich, delicious pudding, with an extra double chocolate punch.  Cook it more, you get pudding, a bit less and it’s super-thick European dark hot chocolate.

Chocolate Egg Cream with Homemade Syrup

Traditionally, the correct and right way to make a chocolate egg cream is with Fox-‘s U-Bet chocolate syrup. And, I may lose my NYC card for this, but I didn’t do it that way. I had no syrup, and I didn’t want to have to make a special trip to get it (particularly under current conditions). So, I made a chocolate egg cream with homemade syrup instead. And besides, not everyone has access to the “right” syrup.

Now, if you’re not from New York, you may not have heard of a chocolate egg cream. You may also, understandably, expect it to be made with eggs and cream. After all, it says so right in the name. Right? Nope. There are no eggs and no cream.  Just chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer. Why is it called that then? Nobody really knows.

Whatever the reason for the name, it’s a delicious, refreshing chocolatey treat that’s perfect for a hot day.

Turns out making the syrup is really easy. It’s actually quite similar to making chocolate pudding.  All you need is five simple ingredients you likely already have: cocoa powder, water, sugar, salt, and a little vanilla extract.  I have cut the original syrup recipe in half, so it’s enough for two egg creams. You can drizzle the extra syrup over cinnamon sugar bananas or use it to prepare poached pears with chocolate sauce.

Not to mention that if you DIY your own homemade chocolate syrup,  you know what’s in it (and can pronounce all of the ingredients).




 

More Chocolate Recipes

greek yogurt chocolate cakeGreek Yogurt Chocolate Cake

Got a craving for chocolate? This cake is triple chocolate! It’s got cocoa, chocolate chips, and a super easy ganache on top.

 

Mini chocolate banana breadChocolate Banana Bread

Sure banana bread is good. But this is even better.  It’s moist, chocolatey, and minified. So you don’t have to worry about finishing it all.

 

small batch brownies cocoa powder

Small Batch Brownies with Cocoa Powder

Made with cocoa powder so you don’t have to make a mess melting chocolate. Rich, moist, and downsized for one.

 




Mini Chocolate Banana Bread

Take banana bread to the next level of deliciousness and make it mini chocolate banana bread instead! This recipe is adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen. The original recipe is divine as is, but a whole chocolate banana bread is just too much for one.  Not to mention, I only had two bananas and the original recipe called for three. I used one and a half for this, then ate the other half with my lunch.  Plus, I just got some mini loaf pans I was dying to try out! I couldn’t resist.  It worked beautifully.

The bread is rich, moist, and chocolatey delicious.  I admit I skipped the chocolate pieces. You see, it was supposed to be double chocolate banana bread.  However, the chunk of chocolate I had was too cold and hard to break up and I was too lazy to wait for it to soften. And, I wanted banana bread ASAP!

If you want it super-chocolatey go for both and add about 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate. Then you get chocolate chocolate chip banana bread.




Tools for Mini Chocolate Banana Bread

Wilton Mini Loaf Pan

I got two of these. They’re about half the size of a normal loaf pan, and just perfect for smaller scale baking. I used them for this chocolate banana bread first.  Then, I took my white bread recipe and divided it between the two pans. Voilà, two mini breads instead of one large one! And, they won’t go stale before I can finish them.

The pans also work for other kinds of quick breads and mini meat loaf too. Eat one, freeze the second one. Or, cook once, eat twice.

More Banana Recipes

banana smoothie for oneBanana Smoothie Recipe for One

Easy, refreshing, and not too sweet. A good in-between meal snack you can make in minutes.

 

strawberry banana yogurt popsicles plateStrawberry Banana Yogurt Popsicles

Beat the summer heat with this sweet treat that’s actually good for you. It’s loaded with fruit! And there’s no added sugar either.

 

cinnamon sugar bananasCinnamon Sugar Bananas with Brandy

Whip up an elegant dessert without a lot of work. All you need is bananas, a bit of butter, brandy, and only a touch of sugar.

 




Single Serving Double Dark Chocolate Pudding Recipe

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.




Single Serving Double Dark Chocolate Pudding Recipe Substitutions and Variations

  • Add more milk or reduce the cornstarch and get European-style hot chocolate
  • Top with whipped cream or sliced strawberries
  • Top with broken up candy canes
  • Sprinkle some cinnamon and nutmeg or chocolate shavings on top
  • Try a splash of brandy or Kahlua

More Chocolate Dessert Recipes

greek yogurt chocolate cakeGreek Yogurt Triple Chocolate Cake

Not one, not two, but three kinds of chocolate: cocoa, chocolate, and a chocolate ganache icing on top. Because why not.

 

easy chocolate mousseEasy Chocolate Mousse

One of the very first recipes I learned to make. Only five ingredients, no melting chocolate in a double boiler and no separating eggs either. Easy!

 

small batch brownies cocoa powderSmall Batch Brownies with Cocoa Powder

Normal brownie recipes are too much for one person to eat. I’ve scaled this one down so it’s a perfect mini recipe for one.

 

poached pears with chocolate sauce and ice creamPoached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Ice Cream

Not entirely chocolate, but a quick and elegant dessert that is easy to prepare.

 




Greek Yogurt Chocolate Cake

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.

Tools and Ingredients for Greek Yogurt Chocolate Cake

HIC Porcelain Square Baking Dish 6.5- by 6.5- by 1-inch

This dish is the perfect size for this cake, a small coffee cake, brownies, or apple bread.  It cleans up easily and you can put it in the dishwasher if you like. It’s also microwave safe.

Cadbury Bourneville Cocoa

This cocoa is far richer and more full-flavored than the usual American cocoa. It’s darker chocolate and has no added sugar or fillers. Just plain cocoa.


Silicone Spatula Set

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.

More Chocolate Dessert Recipes

easy chocolate mousseEasy Chocolate Mousse

One of the very first things I learned to cook. Only five ingredients, and you don’t have to separate eggs or melt chocolate. Easy, delicious, and chocolate. What more could you want?

small batch brownies cocoa powderSmall Batch Brownies with Cocoa Powder

Just enough brownies for one person (because a full batch is just too much). These are made with cocoa powder, so you don’t have to melt chocolate to make them.

 

single serving double dark chocolate pudding recipeSingle Serving Double Dark Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Double dark chocolate pudding, in a single serving. This is actually two recipes in one. Cook it more, you get pudding. Cook it less and you get thick European hot chocolate.

 

chocolate banana breadMini Chocolate Banana Bread

Banana bread + chocolate! All downsized for one person.  Just mix everything together in a bowl, and bake.

 

 




Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Ice Cream

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.

More Dessert Recipes

pear dessert crepeEasy Pear Crepe Dessert Recipe for One Person

Dessert doesn’t have to be hard to be good. This one is ready in five minutes. The secret? That crepe isn’t a real crepe. Shhh. Don’t tell.

 

cinnamon sugar bananasCinnamon Sugar Bananas with Brandy

Got five minutes? You can make a fancy dessert. Rum, brandy, and cinnamon, plus gently heated bananas. Great by itself, or topped with ice cream.

 

Peach Crumble Recipe for One

Take advantage of juicy summer peaches and toss together this peach crumble topped with butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

 

cinnamon sugar apple breadSmall Batch Cinnamon Sugar Apple Bread

The perfect treat, downsized for one person. Packed with apples and finished off with a crackling cinnamon sugar topping.

 




Easy Chocolate Mousse

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.




Easy Chocolate Mousse Substitutions and Variations

  • Use a dark chocolate bar (like 70%) for an extra chocolate boost.
  • Freeze the mousse. It comes out like chocolate fudge ice cream.
  • Add raspberries or strawberries on top. If you freeze those too, they get even sweeter.
  • Garnish with shaved chocolate or chocolate sprinkles.
  • Serve layered in parfait glasses with whipped cream in-between.
  • Make it with coffee instead of water.
  • A splash of Kahlua or Amaretto might be fun too!

Get the Right Ingredients


Green & Black’s 70% Organic Chocolate Bars

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.


Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract

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?

More Chocolate Dessert Recipes

small batch brownies cocoa powderSmall Batch Brownies with Cocoa Powder

Rich, gooey brownies made with cocoa powder instead of chocolate. No melting needed, and no double boiler. Just right for one person.

 

greek yogurt chocolate cakeGreek Yogurt Chocolate Cake

Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. The cake is chocolate, there’s chocolate chunks inside, and it’s got a chocolate ganache glaze on top.

 

single serving double dark chocolate pudding recipeSingle Serving Double Dark Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Exactly one serving of chocolate pudding. When you want a treat and don’t want to worry about leftovers.

 

chocolate banana bread

Mini Chocolate Banana Bread

Take banana bread to the next level by adding chocolate.  It’s rich, delicious, and not too sweet.