Pantry dessert

November 21, 2013

You’ve had it happen. An unexpected guest drops by, and it’s dinner time, and they stay. Or your kid or your significant other calls and tells you, “Hey, I’m bringing home so-and-so for dinner.”

In the event of either instance, I can’t really help you with the main dish, unless you have a well-stocked pantry and fridge and a sufficiently stocked liquor cabinet so that they can drink long enough for you to cook. Or order out.

But I can help you with dessert, yes I can. Because here are two absolutely dead easy desserts you can make in a hurry, stick in the oven a few minutes before you eat, pull out to serve and have people thinking you slaved in the kitchen all day. And with one exception, along with some vanilla ice cream to scoop on top, they’re made entirely from things you’re likely to have in your pantry.

Sweet Baby Jesus good. Promise you.

Sweet Baby Jesus good. Promise you.

The first is chocolate cobbler. I’ve detailed it on the blog before, but it’s been a long time ago, and it’s popped back up because I was wanting something for dessert and didn’t want to go to the grocery to get anything. (I sent someone out for ice cream.)

I grabbed this baby out of the oven, spooned some of it in a bowl, drizzled the self-made syrup from it over my ice cream, and very nearly, as Grandmama would have said, foundered myself.

I do NOT understand how this recipe works. I know only that it does. And given that you still have the box of cocoa powder you bought in 1993 to make brownies, no doubt you have everything else on hand you need to make this baby. To-wit:

  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 7 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder, Divided
  • 1-¼ cup Sugar, Divided
  • ½ cups Milk
  • ⅓ cups Melted Butter
  • 1-½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cups Light Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1-½ cup Hot Tap Water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa, and 3/4 cup of the white sugar. Reserve the remaining cocoa and sugar. Stir in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Mix until smooth. It’ll be a thick, spreadable batter. Pour the mixture into an ungreased 8-inch baking dish and spread it out.

In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining white sugar (it should be 1/2 cup), the brown sugar, and remaining 4 tablespoons of cocoa. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the batter.

Yeah, it looks funny.

Yeah, it looks funny.

Now, here’s the counterintuitive part. Pour the hot tap water over the whole thing. DO NOT STIR!  I am not kidding. Go ahead and grit your teeth and do it, even though it just feels wrong. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the center is set. Let stand for a few minutes if you can hold yourself back. Serve with ice cream, using the gooey sauce to spoon over all. If you want to really blow it out, pick up some caramel ice cream sauce when you’re getting ice cream, and whip some cream. Hell, buy whipped topping, and while you’re at it, pick up maraschino cherries, too.

This thing’s great with plain vanilla ice cream, but I purely love it with pralines and cream.

While you’re at the grocery, buy a can of cherries — cherries in juice or syrup, not cherry pie filling — and stick it in your cabinet. Then, if by chance your box of cocoa you bought in 1993 is finally empty, you can make this instead.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ⅛ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ cups Whole Milk
  • 1 can (15 Ounces) Cherries In Syrup (NOT Cherry Pie Filling) Drained, Juice Reserved
  • ½ cups Pecans, Finely Chopped

That’s for the cake. There’s a sauce. For the sauce, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup Juice From Cherries (add Water To Make 1 Cup If Necessary)
  • 1/2  cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • ½ teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter a square 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Or spray it with a cooking spray.

Cream sugar and butter. Add egg and mix well. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt then add to mixing bowl alternately with milk. Add cherries and chopped nuts and mix gently. Pour batter into buttered pan and smooth out the surface. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown on the surface and no longer jiggly.

While cake is baking, make the sauce by combining cherry juice, sugar, and flour in a small saucepan. Boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thick. Turn off heat and stir in 1 tablespoon butter and vanilla extract.

Drizzle about half the sauce over the warm cake when you bring it out of the oven.  Scoop up servings, top with ice cream, and drizzle a little more syrup on top.

This is a recipe I snagged off the Tasty Kitchen blog about four years ago; the only thing I’ve changed is to half the amount of sugar in the sauce, because I thought it was Just Too Sweet.

Both these are squarely in Sweet Baby Jesus territory. Both are easy. (OK, so the cherry one makes you use your mixer. Get over it.) Both can be doubled easily, making enough for a Whole Herd if you are having y’mama ‘n ’em over for dinner. And you can even use a gluten-free flour mix (I find Bisquick’s is best) and make them gluten free. They won’t be quite as good, but you won’t throw ’em out.


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