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Food for thought: Dessert edition

Satisfy your sweet tooth with these easy-to-make recipes
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JADINE NGAN/THE VARSITY
JADINE NGAN/THE VARSITY

Winter is encroaching on all of us, so what better time is there to step out of the cold and wet and make yourself a cozy — and most importantly, sweet — dessert? Below, you’ll find easy-to-make and delicious dessert recipes you can try at home.

Oatmeal cookies, by Jade Goh-McMillen

Oatmeal cookies were one of my dad’s main go-to dessert options when I was a kid, and this recipe is a version of it. I like a wide variety of toppings on cookies while my dad prefers them plain.

It’s a family recipe, passed down for generations, copied out onto various index cards and sticky notes with headings attributing it to a mysterious “Liz” — someone none of my relatives has been able to identify. I think the mystery adds a little extra fun, but even setting that aside, these cookies are chewy, sweet, and wonderfully open to playing around with toppings!

Ingredients:

Cookies:

1 1/2 cups flour

3 cups oats

2 eggs

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2–1 cup topping or toppings of choice

 

Topping ideas:

Coated candies — such as M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, or Smarties

Raisins or other dried fruits

Nuts

Chopped chocolates

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk together all ingredients except for the flour, oats, and toppings.

Stir in flour, oats, and half of the toppings.

Scoop dough onto a baking sheet about two tablespoons at a time, and place the scoops two centimetres apart. Arrange the rest of the toppings on top.

Bake for eight to 10 minutes or until the cookies look solid and golden brown.

The coconut almond butter cup, by Reese Halfyard

As a kid, peanut butter cups were my favourite dessert. I always asked my mom to make them from scratch, and they remain a strong and joyful memory. I was then ultimately motivated to create my own version of peanut butter cups.

Drawing inspiration from my family’s vegan lifestyle, I subbed in rich dark chocolate and crunchy almond butter. This unique twist, with the addition of coconut flakes and sea salt, creates the perfect bittersweet taste.

I recommend this dessert for a small get-together or as a healthy morning snack. With only five simple ingredients and no baking required, this is the impeccable vegan variation.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons coconut flakes

2 teaspoons coconut oil

1 cup almond butter

2–3 cups dark chocolate — either in chips or a bar

2 teaspoons sea salt 

Directions:

Set the stove to high heat and pour the coconut oil into a saucepan. Chop the dark chocolate into smaller pieces and place it in with the coconut oil. Stir every few minutes until the chocolate is liquid and smooth. 

Grab a 12-spot cupcake tray and put cupcake liners in. Fill a quarter of the liner with the melted chocolate. 

Scoop one to two tablespoons of almond butter on top of the chocolate. Sprinkle two teaspoons of coconut flakes over the almond butter and spread evenly. 

Fill the rest of the cups with melted chocolate until you reach the very top of the liner.

Sprinkle sea salt and extra coconut flakes on top to complete the dessert.

Put the cupcake tray in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until the cups are solid. Take out, wait a few minutes, and it’s ready to eat!

Easy fruit crisp, by Anna Brisco

This recipe is incredibly versatile, and the measurements are quite forgiving. I like to use chopped apples or a mix of apples and frozen berries, but there are endless variations: try strawberry-rhubarb, cherry, or almond peach. My two favourite ways to eat fruit crisp are warm for dessert with vanilla ice cream, and reheated for breakfast the next day with plain yogurt and a sprinkle of hemp hearts and pumpkin seeds.

The recipe yields four to six servings, and you can use one 9 x 9 inch tin, a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, or a nine-inch round tin. If you want to double the recipe, you can use a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Ingredients:

Filling:

5–6 cups whole or chopped fruit, pits and seeds removed — see note one and two

1 tablespoon cornstarch or whole chia seeds

 

Topping:

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 small pinch salt

1 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon vanilla extract — or almond extract if you are using peaches, pears, or apricots

 

Optional toppings:

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/4 cup sliced almonds or other nuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix filling ingredients in your baking dish and evenly distribute in the bottom of the dish.

In a medium bowl, mix butter and brown sugar until it is a single consistency. Add in vanilla extract, cinnamon, or other flavouring. Add oats and nuts, if using, and mix until combined. 

Spread the oat mixture evenly over the fruit, using your hand to pack it down firmly.

Bake 30–35 minutes or until the topping is browned and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Bake five to 10 minutes longer for a crispier topping.

Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

  1. Measurement is for fresh fruit. For frozen fruit, measure while still frozen. For canned fruit, drain liquid for another use. For dried fruit, rehydrate with warm water or juice for 30 minutes before measuring, then drain off liquid for another use. Also, I like to leave apple peels on, but you can peel your apples if you prefer.
  2. If you are using sour fruit like raspberries, add one to two tablespoons of sugar to the filling. If you are using rhubarb, add at least a quarter cup of sugar.
  3. For the topping, you can alternatively use one and a quarter cups of your favourite granola, one tablespoon of butter, and one tablespoon of brown sugar.

Microwave apple pie, by Giselle Dalili

There is no better time to cuddle up with some apple pie than in autumn, when apples are in season and therefore cheaper. And now, you can enjoy apple pie’s warming spices from the comfort of your dorm with this easy, microwave, apple crisp recipe.

Ingredients: 

The apple filling: 

1 apple  

1/2 tablespoon water 

1 teaspoon butter 

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice 

1 tablespoon brown sugar 

1 teaspoon all-purpose flour 

1 pinch salt 

 

The crisp topping: 

3 tablespoons old-fashioned oats 

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 

1 tablespoon brown sugar 

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 pinch salt 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 

 

Directions:  

To make the filling, peel and thinly slice the apple.    

Add the apple, butter, and water to a microwave-safe dish or mug. Microwave for one minute.  

After one minute, add the rest of the apple-filling ingredients. Stir to coat the apples.  

In a separate bowl, stir the topping ingredients together with a fork until they form small crumbles. Top with the oat mixture.  

Microwave for about two minutes, until the filling bubbles and the topping is firm.   

Serve with ice cream.