Everyone knows the best part of any special meal is the dessert. Sure you can pick up some overpriced treat that has a laundry list of ingredients and preservatives. But wouldn’t your sweetheart enjoy something that you made yourself with love rather than something that’s been sitting on the shelf at the store? In addition to scoring brownie points for your effort, making your own dessert will also be a fraction of the cost. Here are 5 easy to prepare desserts to make for the ones you love.
This Food Finance Friday Feature is another guest post by my beloved husband. You may recall that we do not show our love through buying stuff. But we do express our love through food. Today my husband shares some of his favorite recipes for romantic desserts – they worked on me!
Dessert can mean a lot of different things to different people. Some people (e.g., my wife) think something isn’t a dessert unless it has chocolate. Others prefer a treat that’s less sweet. Whether it be a decadent chocolate peanut butter treat or a cheese plate with fresh fruit, dessert is certainly the highlight of any romantic evening. Lets start with what The Debt Shrink and I had on our honeymoon…
Key Lime Pie
I love key lime pie! It has always been one of my favorite desserts. It has a nice tart bite at first that melts into a sweet velvety finish with a graham cracker crust for texture. What’s not to love? The best slice I have ever tasted was at the end of our big (we ordered almost half of the menu) honeymoon dinner in, you may have guessed it, Key West.
Figuring it would be a very daunting task to make my own, I had never tried to make a key lime pie. One day we saw a key lime tree at our local home improvement store. It was then that I discovered how simple it is to make your own pie. Luckily the climate we live in provides a nice environment to grow fresh key limes. (TIP: Key limes are ready to be picked when they are mostly yellow. We store them in our freezer until we have enough to make a pie).
If you are not so lucky as to have your own key lime tree or access to fresh key limes, they do sell the juice in a bottle at the supermarket.
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9-10 crackers)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Key Lime juice
Preheat oven to 350F. Stir graham cracker crumbs (TIP: I use a food processor but a large plastic bag will work in a pinch), sugar, and melted butter in a bowl until well combined. Press evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch glass pie plate. Bake 10 minutes and cool in pie plate on a rack.
Whisk together condensed milk and egg yolks in a bowl. Add the juice and whisk until mixture starts to thicken slightly. Pour mixture into the crust and bake for 15 minutes at 350F. Allow to cool completely on rack (filling will set as the pie cools), then transfer to the refrigerator for 8 hours.
Top with your favorite whipped cream — and lime zest if you’re feeling frisky!
If you don’t like the tart and sweet of a Key Lime pie, try my other favorite dessert cherry delight.
I love cheesecake, but who has the time to make their own. This dessert is very similar in flavor to a cherry topped cheesecake without all the fuss. I was introduced to cherry delight by my Aunt. She would make it for me every birthday! After she moved to another state one of my sisters started making it for me every Christmas (she always makes me my own to take home). It is a very appropriate dessert for your Valentine.
- 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (20 crackers)
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 8 ounce whipped topping
- 1 can (12 oz) cherry pie filling
Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl. Press into the bottom of a 9×9 inch pan. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, and whipped topping for 2 minutes on medium speed.
TIP: If you don’t have powdered sugar, don’t run out to the store — make your own. Simply grind 1 cup and 2 teaspoons granulated (white) sugar in a blender or food processor for 30 seconds. Yields 1 cup superfine powdered sugar.
Pour filling over graham cracker crust. Add cherry pie filling over top of the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until firm. Top with your favorite whipped cream.
As I said before, there are some who do not consider it dessert unless it has chocolate (including The Debt Shrink). Chocolate lasagna is the one for you then. It has a lot of similarities to Cherry Delight but with chocolate instead of pie filling. If your Valentine loves chocolate, you will hit a home run (wink, wink) with this one!
- 36 Oreo cookies
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cold milk
- 12 ounces whipped topping (divided)
- 2 packages (3.9 oz) chocolate instant pudding
- 3 1/4 cups cold milk
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Mix crushed Oreos and melted butter in a bowl. Press into 9×13 inch pan and transfer to freezer while you mix the filling.
Mix the cream cheese until fluffy (actual baking term). Add 2 tablespoons of milk and the sugar, mix until combined. Stir in 1 1/4 cup whipped topping. Spread the mixture over the Oreo crust.
Mix instant pudding mix with 3 1/4 cups cold milk. Whisk until the pudding starts to thicken. Spread pudding over cream cheese mixture.
Let it sit for 10 minutes to allow for the pudding to become firm. Spread remaining whipped topping over the pudding layer and top with chocolate chips.
Refrigerate for 4 hours or freezer for 1 hour if you’re in a hurry.
TIP: Use the chocolate chips to make a heart or write something special for your Valentine.
Strawberries are a kind of a big deal where we live. I look forward to making strawberry shortcake every year after the winter holidays are over. We even grow our own strawberries.
While the main attraction is always the strawberries, there are 2 camps when it comes to the cake. Most like a nice sweet pound cake or sponge cake to accompany their berries. I prefer a more biscuit like texture (The Debt Shrink will disagree). You can always pick up a pound cake or cake cups at the supermarket, but I recommend giving Alton Brown’s Pound Cake recipe a try. It is quite easy and the taste and texture is so much better than store-bought. If you like the sweetened biscuit variety (you do), here is a simple recipe that can be made at home for the extra credit of baking something.
- 1 quart (4 cups) sliced strawberries
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Mix strawberry slices and sugar in a container with a lid. Putting them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours will allow the strawberries to make their own syrup.
- 2 1/3 cups Bisquick mix
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 425F. Stir Bisquick mix, milk, sugar, and melted butter until a soft dough forms. Drop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet in 6 spoonfuls. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and delicious. Split warm shortcakes, add strawberries and top with your favorite whipped cream.
I don’t think I could write a post for The Debt Shrink about desserts and not include something made with ice cream. Ice cream is not one of my favorite things, but if you add a brownie and caramel — I’m in! I don’t care what anybody says, you can’t beat brownies made from a boxed mix. You just can’t! They are gooey, fudgy, and addicting. So grab a box and prepare as instructed. Add a few scoops of your favorite vanilla ice cream. Top with whatever you prefer (I like caramel and chocolate sauce). And that’s it. Super simple but delicious and adaptable to the tastes of everyone.
Whether you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or Valentine’s Day, it’s not about spending money. It’s about making the people you love feel special. Nothing says I love you more than taking the time to create something sweet just for your love.
Of course you could just grab something at the store. But doesn’t that special someone deserve a little time and effort to make the meal end on a sweet sweet note?
What desserts sing ‘I love you’ to you?