Baking is something I learned to love doing this year! Before that, I avoided it because it seemed confusing, it seemed like it took hours to do, was only for special occasions, and something I didn’t grow up with. My mom would cook all the time, but rarely baked, and when we made desserts at home it was from a box (which I am a fan of) or pre made desserts. It’s so much fun and so satisfying and I encourage you to just try it out! I’ve put together some of my favorite desserts you can make at home and you should try making them at home now!
I tried making chocolate cake on my own for the first time this year because my roommates had a lot of cocoa and I was craving something sweet. It was so easy to make and I was pleased with the result! Baking is a science so stick to the recipe and make sure your measurements are correct! This is one of my favorite desserts and I haven’t bought store made chocolate cake since learning how to make it at home on my own.
Prep: 25 min
Cook: 35 min
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 2 9-inch cakes
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9-inch-round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- Whisk the cocoa powder and 1 1/2 cups boiling water in a medium bowl until smooth; set aside. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until combined. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, sour cream and vanilla and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the cocoa mixture in a steady stream until just combined, then finish mixing with a rubber spatula. (The batter will be thin.)
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans and tap the pans against the counter to help the batter settle. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pans and turn the cakes out onto the racks to cool completely. Remove the parchment. Trim the tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife to make them level, if desired.
Dango is a Japanese dumpling and sweet made from mochiko, which is rice flour that’s related to mochi. Green tea is what it’s usually served with, but I eat it alone or with whatever I want when I make it. There are many different types of dango, and the one I’m going to highlight is mitarashi dango, which is dango coated with a sweet sauce.
Prep: 30 min
Cook: 15 min
Total Time: 45 min
Yield: 5 skewers, 16-17 balls
If you’re using Joshinko & Shiratamako flour
- 100 g Joshinko (Japanese rice flour) (3 ½ oz; See Notes)
- 100 g Shiratamako (glutinous rice flour/sweet rice flour) (3 ½ oz; See Notes)
- 150-160 ml warm water (roughly ⅔ cup; Joshinko requires warm water)
If you’re using Dangoko
- 200 g Dangoko (Japanese rice dumpling flour) (7 oz; See Notes)
- 140-150 ml water (roughly ⅔ cup)
Sweet Soy Glaze:
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp mirin
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 150 ml water (roughly ⅔ cup)
- 2 Tbsp potato starch/cornstarch
To Make Mitarashi Dango:
Gather all the ingredients. Joshinko and Shiratamako on the left and Dangoko on the right. Whichever you decide to use, the instructions below are the same.
Gather ingredients for the sweet soy glaze. Soak the skewers in water. You can start boiling a large pot of water on low heat (See Step 8)
Combine Shiratamako and Joshinko in a bowl (or add just Dangoko in a bowl).
Stir in warm water (or cold water for Dangoko) a little bit at a time while mixing with chopsticks. Please note: it is possible that you may need less or more water depending on where you live. If you live in a dry climate, you will use more water than me.
The flours start to stick together and eventually it becomes clumps. Using your hands, combine into one ball.
Knead until the dough becomes smooth. The texture is like squeezing an “earlobe” (that’s how we describe the tenderness for this type of mochi in Japanese).
Make the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan without turning on the heat.
Potato starch/cornstarch will become lumps once you add the heat to it, so mix all together first. Then turn on the heat and continue to whisk.
At one point when the sauce gets to hot temperature stage, the sauce will suddenly become thick and heavy. You need to keep whisking.
I usually stop at this consistency. If you use it now, then this is a good time to stop cooking. If you are making this sauce ahead, then stop a bit earlier because the sauce will thicken a bit more while it cools down. Transfer to the container or bowl.
This classic dessert is one that looks intimidating, but it’s really easy if you put effort and practice into it! I made it on my own for the first time this year because I got really into baking and tried out any classic desserts I love to eat. I have not tried to make flavored cheesecake, but if anyone has, let us know in the comments below!
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 1 hour 15 min
Total Time: 1 hour 35 min
Yield: 12 slices
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (170g)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar (can substitute white)
- 7 Tablespoons butter melted
- 32 oz cream cheese² softened to room temperature (910g)
- 1 cup sugar 200g
- ⅔ cups sour cream 160g
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs room temperature, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 325F (160C).
- Prepare Graham Cracker crust first by combining graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and brown sugar, and stirring well. Add melted butter and use a fork to combine ingredients well.
- Pour crumbs into a 9” Springform pan and press firmly into the bottom and up the sides of your pan. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl (using a hand mixer) add cream cheese and stir until smooth and creamy (don’t over-beat or you’ll incorporate too much air).
- Add sugar and stir again until creamy.
- Add sour cream, vanilla extract, and salt, and stir until well-combined. If using a stand mixer, make sure you pause periodically to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula so that all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- With mixer on low speed, gradually add lightly beaten eggs, one at a time, stirring just until each egg is just incorporated. Once all eggs have been added, use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl again and make sure all ingredients are well combined.
- Pour cheesecake batter into prepared springform pan. To insure against leaks, place pan on a cookie sheet that’s been lined with foil.
- Transfer to oven and bake on 325F (160C) for about 75 minutes. Edges will likely have slightly puffed and may have just begun to turn a light golden brown and the center should spring back to the touch but will still be Jello-jiggly. Don’t over-bake or the texture will suffer, which means we all suffer.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on top of the oven for 10 minutes. Once 10 minutes has passed, use a knife to gently loosen the crust from the inside of the springform pan (this will help prevent cracks as your cheesecake cools and shrinks).
- Allow cheesecake to cool another 1-2 hours or until near room temperature before transferring to refrigerator and allowing to cool overnight or at least 6 hours. Enjoy!
Peanut Butter Fudge
I love fudge and I love peanut butter, and I learned how to make fudge when I was 17 from my grandma and decided to try making peanut butter fudge! It is very rich, but if you are a fan of peanut butter and fudge like me you will love this one.
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 15 min
Total Time: 30 min
Yield: 36 pieces
- 3 C granulated sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 C evaporated milk
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1 ½ C peanut butter crunchy or creamy
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Bring the sugar, salt, milk and butter to a slow boil.
- Over medium heat boil it about 6-8 mins until it reaches softball stage 235-237 degrees F (don’t forget to adjust for your altitude – or it should ball up in cool water.)
- Take off the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla
- Stir until it cools down a bit and is nice and thick
- Pour into an 8×8 pan and refrigerate
- Cut and serve
Chocolate S’More Cookie Sandwiches
Turning a campfire favorite into a cookie sandwich is a wonderful thing. It’s a very sweet treat that will hit any sweet tooth craving you have and is pretty easy to make! Prep takes the longest, but it’s so worth it. All your camping memories filled with s’mores and laughter will be contained in a delicious treat when you make this.
Prep: 25 min
Cook: 8 min
Total Time: 33 min
Yield: 12 cookies
- 100 g dark chocolate (chopped)
- 40 g unsalted butter (softened)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup plain flour (sifted)
- 1/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder (sifted)
- 2 tsp baking powder (sifted)
- 100 g malt biscuits (crushed)
- 24 white marshmallows
- 50 g dark chocolate (melted, extra)
- Place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl over a saucepan of just simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 1–2 minutes or until well combined. Add the egg, vanilla and cooled chocolate and beat to combine. Add the flour, cocoa and baking powder and beat until combined. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or until firm.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Place the crushed biscuits in a bowl. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into 24 balls and roll in the biscuit to coat. Place on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper, allowing room to spread. Cook for 8 minutes or until the surfaces crack and the edges are crispy (the centre of the cookies will still be soft). Allow to cool completely on the trays.
- Place 2 marshmallows each on 12 of the cookies. Spread the extra melted chocolate on the remaining cookies and sandwich together with a marshmallow cookie. Using a kitchen blowtorch, lightly toast the outside of each marshmallow to caramelize.
This is one of those desserts I was always intrigued with as a kid, but never wanted to try because it looked too uniform and I’d also always go for ice cream or cake instead of this on the rare chance my family would order dessert while out (which was like never). It is a soft custard dessert that has a layer of soft caramel on top. It’s a great dessert to make for dinner parties or potlucks!
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 min
Yield: 1 9-inch pan
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- In a bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and well combined.
- Heat the milk until very hot, then whisk into the egg mixture until well incorporated.
- Cool to room temperature and pass through a strainer and set aside.
- To make the caramel, in a small saucepan, heat the sugar and lemon juice, stirring continually until golden. Remove from the heat immediately.
- Pour the caramel into the base of four greased ramekins. Leave for 10 minutes to cool and firm while you prepare the water bath.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Boil the kettle and place the ramekins into a baking dish.
- Pour the custard mixture gently into the ramekins, so as not to disturb the caramel.
- Pour boiling water into the baking dish until it reaches halfway up the side of the ramekins.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool to room temperature and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
- When ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the edges of the ramekins to make sure the custard will release. Invert onto a plate for serving.