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Easy Desserts With On-Hand Ingredients

If you have a few kitchen basics in the pantry, you should be able to make these easy, delicious desserts whenever you want!

Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Chocolate Mousse

Serves 6

Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus 3 hours chilling

Cook Time: 5 minutes

• 1 1/2 cup dark chocolate, plus extra shaved chocolate, to serve (optional)

• 3 eggs, at room temperature

• 1 teaspoon McCormick’s Pure Vanilla Extract

• 1 1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped, plus extra, to serve (optional)

1. Roughly break up the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stand for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, to soften. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth.
2. Separate the eggs. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate and stir until smooth. Fold a little cream through the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remainder.
3. Using a very clean electric or hand whisk, beat the egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites through the chocolate mixture – use a large metal spoon or rubber spatula, folding until all the white streaks are gone, but taking care not to lose the volume.
4. Spoon the mixture into six 6-ounce glasses or small serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours, or until the mousses have thickened slightly and are well chilled. Serve topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.

Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Jam Roly Poly

Serves 6

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

• 2 cups self-rising flour

• 7 tablespoons frozen butter

• 1 cup strawberry jam

• 1 teaspoon McCormick’s Imitation Strawberry Extract

• custard, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir the butter through. Make a well in the centre. Add 1/2 cup water and mix with a non-serrated knife until the mixture starts to clump together.
2. Gather the dough (it will be slightly sticky) into a ball and turn out onto a sheet of lightly floured baking parchment. Roll out to a 10 × 8 inch rectangle between two sheets of baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
3. Spread the jam mixed with extract over the dough, leaving a 3/4 inch gap along the short sides. Roll up the dough, starting from a short side. Place the roll, still on the baking paper, onto a baking tray. Roll the baking paper up, twisting the ends to enclose.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the roly poly to cool completely, then cut into slices. Serve with custard, within 1 hour of cooking.

Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Lemon Delicious

Serves 6

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

• 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

• 3/4 cup (170 g) sugar

• 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

• 1/2 teaspoon McCormick’s Pure Lemon Extract

• 3 eggs, separated

• 1 1/2 cups (330 ml) milk

• 1/2 cup (80 ml) lemon juice

• 1/4 cup (35 g) self-rising flour

• sifted confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

• cream or ice cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease six 1 cup (250 ml) ovenproof dishes.
2. Using electric beaters, beat the butter, sugar, lemon zest and egg yolks for 3–4 minutes, or until light and creamy.
3. Gradually add the milk, stirring with a wire whisk. Stir in the lemon juice. Sift the flour over and gently mix to combine.
4. Using very clean beaters, beat the egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the batter using a large metal spoon, taking care not to lose any volume.
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dishes and set them in a baking dish. Transfer to the oven and carefully pour enough boiling water into the baking dish to come halfway up the side of the dishes.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the puddings spring back when gently touched (they will still be pale). Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with cream or ice cream.

Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Baked Custard

Serves 6

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

• 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) milk

• 4 eggs

• 1/2 cup (115 g) sugar

• 1 teaspoon McCormick’s Pure Vanilla Extract

• a pinch of ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil six 3/4 cup (185 ml) ovenproof dishes. (If you’d prefer to make one large custard, use a 5 cup/1.25 liter baking dish and extend the cooking time to 30 minutes.)
2. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it nearly comes to the boil.
3. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large jug until the sugar has dissolved. Whisking constantly, gradually add the hot milk — don’t whisk too vigorously though as you don’t want lots of froth on top of the custard. Pour the custard into the oiled dishes and sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.
4. Fold a clean tea towel and place it in a large baking dish. Stand the dishes on the tea towel and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the dishes.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the custards are just set but still wobbly (the tip of a small sharp knife should come out clean). Carefully lift the dishes out of the baking dish. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Dessert Crepes

Serves 4 (makes 8)

Prep Time: 5 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting

Cook Time: 20 minutes

• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 egg

• 1 1/2 cup milk

• 2 tablespoons cold butter, in one piece

• 1/2 teaspoon McCormick’s Pure Lemon Extract

• lemon juice, for drizzling

• sugar, for sprinkling

1. Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the center. Whisk the egg and milk together, then gradually add to the flour, whisking until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
2. Wrap the butter in a sheet of kitchen paper. Heat a 8-inch non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and wipe around the inside with the butter-filled paper towel. Set the wrapped butter aside on a plate to use again.
3. Pour 1/2 cup of the batter into the pan and quickly swirl to make a thin, even layer. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes, or until lightly golden underneath, then turn and cook for a further minute. Transfer to a warm plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. (If you want to serve the pancakes all at the same time, keep them warm on a plate in a 225°F oven, covered loosely with foil.)

4. To serve, fold the pancakes into quarters. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with sugar.

Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Terrific Trifle

Serves 8

Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus 2 hours jelly setting plus 4 hours chilling

Cook Time: 5 minutes

• 1/2 cup package of flavored gelatin
• 8 ounce madeira cake or trifle sponge cakes

• 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons strawberry jam

• 1/2 teaspoon McCormick’s Imitation Strawberry Flavor

• 2 tablespoons sweet sherry

• 2 14-ounce cans peach slices, drained

• 2 cups cold ready-made custard

• 1 ounce flaked almonds

• 1/2 cup whipping cream

1. Prepare the gelatin according to the packet instructions. Pour the mixture into a 8 inch square pan and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until set.
2. Cut the cake into 1/2 inch slices and spread half with the jam. Sandwich the other cake slices on top, then cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Arrange half the cake cubes in a 2-quart glass serving dish – don’t worry if they fall apart. Sprinkle with half the sherry.
3. Roughly cut the gelatin into 1 inch cubes. Arrange half the gelatin cubes over the cake, then top with half the peaches. Spoon half the custard over them, spreading it out to cover the top.
4. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the almonds on a baking tray and toast for 5 minutes, or until lightly golden – watch carefully as they can burn quickly. Allow to cool.
6. Just before serving, spoon the whipped cream over the trifle and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Cinnamon Teacake

Serves 8

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

• 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature

• 1 egg

• 1/2 cup (145 g) sugar

• 1 teaspoon McCormick’s Pure Vanilla Extract

• 1 1/2 cups (200 g) self-rising flour, sifted

• 3/4 cup (200 ml) milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 8-inch round cake tin with baking paper.
2. Using electric beaters, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until the mixture is almost white. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the flour and milk into the batter until combined. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and smooth the surface.
3. Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until a cake skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

4. While the cake is still warm, brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar mixture. Serve warm or cold.

Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Golden Syrup Dumplings

Serves 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

• 1 1/4 cup self-rising flour

• 4 tablespoons butter, chopped

• 1/2 cup milk

• 1/2 teaspoon McCormick’s Imitation Maple Flavor

• 12 ounces golden syrup (or substitute equal parts honey and corn syrup or maple syrup)

• cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve

1. Sift the flour into a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in 1 tablespoon of the butter until evenly combined. Make a well in the center, add the milk and mix with a non-serrated knife until the mixture starts to clump together. Gather the dough into a ball. Pinch off level tablespoons and lightly roll into 12 small balls.
2. Put the remaining butter into a large, deep frying pan with the golden syrup and 1 cup water. Stir over a medium heat until melted and combined. Bring to the boil. Carefully add the dumplings, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Using a spoon, gently turn the dumplings over. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes.
3. Drizzle the dumplings with the pan syrup and serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.

Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Bread and Butter Pudding

Serves 6

Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus 10 minutes standing

Cook Time: 45 minutes

• 8 thick bread slices

• 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, plus some melted butter, for brushing

• 1/2 cup (175 g) honey, plus extra, for drizzling

• 4 eggs

• 1 cup (250 ml) cream

• 2 cups (500 ml) milk

• 1/4 teaspoon McCormick’s Cinnamon, Ground
• ice cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Brush a shallow rectangular baking dish with a little melted butter.
2. Spread each slice of bread with the butter and honey. (To make the honey easy to spread, warm it for 30 seconds in the microwave.) Cut each slice into four triangles, then arrange them in the baking dish, overlapping the slices as needed.
3.In a bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, cream, milk and cinnamon. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and place a saucer on top. (Weighing the bread down with a saucer allows the egg mixture to soak into the bread, giving a rich, dense pudding.) Stand for 10 minutes, then remove the saucer.
4. Place the dish in a larger baking dish and transfer to the oven. Carefully pour enough hot water into the larger baking dish to come halfway up the side of the smaller dish.
5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the pudding is just set and golden. Serve warm with ice cream and a drizzle of extra honey.

Variations Instead of honey, use 1/4 cup (55 g) caster sugar and whisk it with the eggs in step 3. Replace the plain bread with fruit bread, or sprinkle 1/2 cup (100 g) mixed dried fruit or 1/2 cup (60 g) golden raisins over the bread before adding the eggs.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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