Dear Blue Apron,
After cooking dinner, I hardly have the energy to make dessert. But my sweet tooth usually wants something—even if it’s just a bite. What are a few easy tricks to make a quick homemade treat to follow dinner?
We know—sometimes even the best dinner doesn’t fill up that spot reserved in your stomach for sweets. At the same time, we know that you don’t necessarily want to indulge in huge slices of cake every night, which is why we don’t suggest that you head to the bakery to curb your craving.
Instead, make sure that you’re equipped to improvise dessert. Start by filling your fridge, freezer, and pantry with a couple of go-to sugary staples. The most important are: chocolate chips, cocoa powder, vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, nuts, and fruit. The best part about all these ingredients is that most are merely staples, so you don’t have to worry about gorging on prepared cookies—if you’re prone to that sort of thing (and who isn’t?).
So now that you’ve finished your summer corn chowder, your cod with succotash, or your baked quinoa falafels, belly up for a great dessert. Here are some quick, yet totally satisfying, guidelines for ending your meal.
1. Make a Milkshake
One of the easiest desserts, the milkshake, can also be incredibly healthy. Depending on the ingredients, your milkshake can even supplement a lighter dinner.
Start with a banana and 1/3 cup milk and put them into your blender. If you’re feeling indulgent, add ice cream, cocoa powder, and sugar. For a healthier option, opt for low-fat vanilla yogurt and a scoop of peanut butter (and a bit of cocoa powder if you want—it adds no sugar, only delicious flavor!). Blend away, take a taste, and add more chocolate, sugar, or peanut butter as needed.
2. Assemble a Teeny Tiny Sundae
You’ll save money and time by making a sundae at home—and you can always customize your topping to exactly your tastes. Start by combining a small handful of chocolate chips with a drizzle of milk in your tiniest bowl or mug. Microwave this in 5-second bursts just until the chocolate is melted. Use a fork to combine the chocolate and milk for an easy homemade hot fudge sauce.
Then add a scoop of ice cream, top with chopped nuts, fresh fruit, sprinkles, or a cherry—whatever you have in the house—and enjoy the perfect little after-dinner sundae.
3. Concoct a Crumble for One
Using any fresh or frozen fruits that you have around, you can improvise a homey little crisp or crumble in no time. Here’s what to do: Take a small ramekin or ovenproof bowl and pile your fruit in. Sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons sugar.
Now, in a small bowl, combine about 1 tablespoon of softened butter, a pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1 tablespoon oats. Use your fingers to mash this together until it forms crumbs, adding more flour if necessary. Sprinkle this on top of your fruit. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes, until the crumble is golden on top, and then dig in (with a little ice cream on top to make it extra special!).
4. Coat Almonds in Chocolate
The crunch of a good chocolate-coated almond goes a long way to satisfying your sweet tooth, especially with our secret ingredient—coarse salt.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt a handful of chocolate chips in 10-second intervals, stirring between each, until smooth. Add a sizeable pinch of coarse salt—sea salt or kosher salt both work—and stir in a handful of whole almonds or any other nut you’d like. You want the nuts to be fully coated in chocolate, so err on the side of adding fewer at first, and then more as needed.
Spread the chocolate-covered nuts onto a small baking sheet or plate in one layer. Place in the freezer until the chocolate hardens, about 10 minutes (just the right amount of time to wash the dinner dishes!). Break the nuts apart, and enjoy.
Photo courtesy of Mr. T in DC.