Quick and Easy Desserts for Beginners

Quick and Easy Desserts for Beginners

Baking can seem like a huge production sometimes. You have to gather up an absurd amount of ingredients, mix them together with varying techniques, and then wait for it to bake, or cool, or firm up, or rise, or whatever else your dessert needs to do. It can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be.

For anyone new to baking, or for anyone who just wants to satisfy a craving without all the hassle, there are some quick, easy desserts you can make at home, with common ingredients.

Four Quick and Easy Desserts

1. Meringue Cookies

Meringue is basically whipped egg whites and sugar. After you bake them, they come out light and crispy, with just a hint of stickiness. Despite being some of the simplest cookies to make, they taste great! But my favorite thing about meringue isn't the taste: it's the fact that they are so easy to customize to your preference.

You can add in just about any mix-in you can think of, from dried fruit, to nuts, to chocolate chips. You can make them a wide range of colors since the base mix is white, and you can top them with whatever you want. They also bake pretty true to whatever shape you pipe them in, so get creative!

It's also an excellent beginner's recipe, because you can use meringue in a wide range of other desserts. When you master it, frostings, cakes, and even macarons will be one step easier. (And we all need macarons to be at least a little bit less of a challenge.) And you can probably make them right now, without a trip to the grocery store. (Cream of Tartar is the only unusual ingredient, but you can easily substitute is for lemon juice or white vinegar.)

The only downside is that they have the longest baking time on this list, at near 30 minutes. But I think the convenience more than makes up for that.

Here's my meringue recipe of choice: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/9847/meringue-cookies/

2. Mug Cakes

Mug cakes are growing in popularity because they don't require any difficult ingredients or techniques. Mix up some combination of oil, eggs, flour, and water, and you have mug cake batter ready to go. That's not to say that these are an inferior dessert. When paired with your favorite flavors and toppings, they can be just as decadent as any cake slice.

Since this baking is small scale, I like to go the extra mile. For example, when I make mug brownies, I use the dark, decadent cocoa that I save for a real treat. It's great to add a fancy touch because the recipes are pretty hard to mess up. You can be confident that whatever you're putting that expensive chocolate or fresh fruit on is going to be edible.

I don't have a favorite mug cake recipe, since I tend to modify a few existing recipes. However, a good recipe isn't difficult to find. In fact, there's probably a mug cake equivalent to any type of cake your heart desires. You can search whatever type of cake your in the mood for, add mug to the name, and pull up a recipe. This is also another recipe that's easy to make with common pantry ingredients.

3. Crepes

Crepes are sometimes seen as more of a breakfast food in America, but in countries like Japan you can get them filled with ice cream, fruit, and whipped cream as almost a handheld sundae. The most recognized crepe ingredient is probably Nutella, but you can fill them with just about anything.

My favorite combination is pastry cream, chocolate sauce, and some fresh berries. However, a quick and easy way to fill them is chocolate syrup, store bought whipped cream, and fruit. And if you have any leftover crepes, use them for a savory meal the next day!

The main difficulty with this recipe is that crepes can be a bit of a pain to cook, but they're surprisingly easy when you get the hang of it. I've made them in just a regular, nonstick pan, with a regular spatula. It's not all that different from a pancake, just a little more delicate. When you're starting out, you can make them a little bit thicker until you feel more confident in your ability to flip them.

I recommend making a proper crepe batter at some point (my favorite recipe is this one: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/crepes-recipe-1911037).

But you can make a decent crepe batter quickly by adding milk and eggs to any boxed pancake mix. Let the mix rest in the refrigerator for a while

4. Homemade pudding

Homemade pudding can be a bit tricky the first time you make it, but with a bit of practice, you'll be able to make it in a flash.  Most recipes recommend refrigerating your pudding for a few hours, but if you're in a rush you don't have too. I like to let my cool for a bit and then eat it warm.

It tastes just as good and has a smoother texture, and it's perfect for the winter. The trick with pudding is to heat it enough that the eggs cook and thicken the mixture, without getting scrambled eggs. The first time you make it, be patient and take it slow. When you get more confident, you can turn the heat up and cook it a little faster.

Pudding may seem plain, but this is another recipe that very easy to customize or elevate depending on your tastes. Custard style desserts usually have a slight eggy taste, but pudding lends itself well to a wide variety of flavors. With a plain pudding base, you can add in chocolate, flavored liquors, or a bit of booze for a weekend treat. You can also serve them with whatever toppings you want.

Quick and Easy Baking

When you're in the mood to bake, or just to eat something sweet, you don't have to worry about a trip to the grocery store and setting aside three hours of your day.

There are plenty of great desserts you can make in a pinch, with ingredients that most people already have at home. Things like meringues and pudding may seem plain and boring on paper, but with the right touch of creativity, they can be customized into something unique and delicious.

With mug cakes and crepes, you won't even have to turn on the oven. (Which is nice for those hot summer months.) These recipes are easy, fast, and great for anyone who just recently got into baking. Of course, they work just as well for those of us with no patience and a sweet tooth.