Many diets advise tossing out all those bags of crisps, chips, and cookies so they won’t tempt you while you munch on celery sticks.
There is another way.
Toss them out and start cooking from Christina Lane‘s Desserts for Two: mall Batch Cookies, Brownies, Pies, and Cakes (Countryman Press 2015). If you are going to have dessert – make it good and make it yourself. You’ll cut down on how much you bake, but you’ll still have enough for a teatime or dessert companion. You may think you can just halve or quarter a recipe’s ingredients to make to less, but baking is tricky. It’s best to start with a recipe that is already scaled to a smaller number of servings for good results. Another secret to success is start with great ingredients. Along with the cookbook, Super Chef tried out Nielsen-Massey pure extracts, Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla and Pure Almond Extract – and they both made for much better flavor. After all, when making a small batch and indulging sparingly, there is a sense that each ingredient really matters.
Remember those mini cakes you made with your Easy Bake Oven? Check out the photographs of Christina’s small cakes, like the German Chocolate Cake (p. 113) or the Italian Cream Cake (p. 116). There are plenty of scaled-down recipes for cupcakes, but it is refreshing to see a full-blown two-layer cake, let alone a Wedding Cake for Two (pp. 119-121) with three tiers of almond flavored buttercream covered sour cream vanilla and almond cake. And that’s where those Nielsen-Massey extracts come in handy. Why make a mini-wedding cake for your anniversary if it doesn’t taste perfect? And these extracts deliver flavor without any metallic after-taste of other extracts.
Christina is a Southerner, so her Southern Delights chapter is the heart of the book. First up is Derby Pie (pp. 144-5) a kind of bourbon spiked pecan pie in a 6-inch version that is perfect for a small indulgence – though you might really want to make two. Texas Cobbler (pp. 146-7) with a popover technique of melted butter, then pancake-like batter on the bottom, and finaly ripe peaches on the top, so its more fruit than crust. These are cooked in two 10-inch little ramekins that make for cute dessert. Her more ingenious solution to little pies is the use of Mason Jar Lids as in Blueberry Mason Jar Lid Pies (pp. 152-3) with the rubber ringside turned down. She also makes Chocolate Caramel Mason Jar Lid Tarts (pp. 154-5) that have an easy graham cracker crust that’s pressed into the lid. If you want a more traditional pie, try Coconut Cream Pie (with that almond extract) on pp. 164-5. It is 6-inches small – so just enough for dessert and a smidgeon left over for a midnight snack.
Dessert for Two is a handy book for anyone facing an empty nest after the kids move out, or for those times when you only really want a little of something very, very good. Keep those mason lids handy and a look out for mini-bake ware.