Back in 2017, a study found that “maker activities” like crafting or baking had a positive effect on overall well-being. Flash forward to 2020 and our collective quarantine baking (hello, banana bread) has provided yet more evidence that preheating the oven, stirring the dry ingredients, and layering in the chocolate chips can be a surprising balm during stressful times. More baking means you need more recipes, right? These easy desserts with few ingredients will help you be a “maker”—and, hopefully, bring you some peace.
Below, you’ll find dessert recipes dreamed up by some of the best chefs Well+Good works with—from Jenny Dorsey and Mia Rigden, co-hosts of Alt-Baking Bootcamp, to Candice Kumai, a culinary creative who most recently appeared on Selena Gomez’s cooking show. Wipe down the counters and make sure you have plenty of coconut sugar, nut butter, and coconut milk. We’re about to redefine healthy baking with recipes that only require five ingredients (not including salt). Let’s make something, shall we?
8 easy desserts with few ingredients to try next time you want something sweet
When I tell you that these peanut butter cups would be my desert island food, I’m not being dramatic. In the past three weeks, I’ve made them four times and lorded them over my boyfriend in exchange for him loading the dishwasher. Just like Patel herself, these peanut butter cups are powerful and just one of the many delicious recipes in the Well+Good Cookbook. All you’ll need to get these peanut butter cups on the table are nut butter, coconut oil, cacao powder, maple syrup, and honey. It’s as simple as that.
Once you learn how to whip up this fast-and-creamy peanut butter banana ice cream, you’re going to want to keep frozen bananas on-hand, like, always. From her quarantine home to yours, Rigden’s bringing you this masterpiece of a frozen dessert that requires only peanut butter, bananas, and chocolate chips. That’s it. (Well, and a high-powered blender or food processor to bring it all together.)
Let’s get one thing straight: This is not a smoothie. As Kumai explains in the video, collagen adds a gelatinous, pudding-like texture to this frozen berry dessert that separates it from your average green smoothie. The result is a smooth, refreshing concoction that you’ll want to scoop straight out of the blender. Pro tip: Try different berry mixes for different flavor profiles. Pineapple and blueberries? Yum. Strawberry and kiwi? I’m drooling.
There’s something awesome about making a dessert without ever turning on the oven—and that’s exactly what you accomplish with these babies. Made of coconut milk, lemon, and honey, Dorsey’s recipe is about as simple as it gets. And remember, you can always experiment with different flavors and herbs once you mater the basic recipe. Swap the lemon for lime and add some dehydrated strawberries, or sprinkle fresh or frozen raspberries into the existing recipe.
Protein cookies are one of my favorite post-run snack—and Dorsey’s recipe really goes the extra mile. The five ingredients you’ll need on hand are coconut oil, flax eggs, honey, coconut flour, and almond flour. Once you’ve combined the ingredients with your spatula, you’ll roll the dough into tiny balls using the strength of your palm and place them on parchment paper. 10 minutes in the oven and (bam!) you’ve got yourself a tray of cookies. I like to add walnuts and dark chocolate chips to mine, but you do you.
I know what you’re thinking: Whipped cream isn’t a dessert on its own! First, um, it absolutely is. And second, if you want a little something extra with this recipe, you could always prepare the strawberry shortcake featured at the beginning of the video or simply serve the whipped cream over a bowl of fresh fruit. Coconut milk and vanilla extract are the only two components you’ll need for this vegan take on Cool Whip.
7. Cacao bark
One of life’s great tragedies is the fact that dessert bark typically is reserved for the holidays. It’s a weird hill to die on, I’ll admit, but I’m calling for dessert bark at large (and especially this recipe, which only requires five ingredients) to be a 365-days-a-year thing. With just cacao butter, maple syrup, cacao powder, vanilla extract, and salt required, you can make this bark in minutes. And you can switch up the toppings with the season (candy cane, edible flowers, dehydrated raspberries—you get the picture).
This recipe for dessert avocados is one of those I would have laughed at a decade ago. Now, the creamy green fruit basically is its own food group in my diet. Add a little peanut butter and a spoonful of maple syrup, and you have the base of a perfect, no-bake treat. For toppings, recipe developer Lauren Kirchmaier recommends sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, chia seeds—or all three. If you have some crushed peanuts, that would be a delicious option, too.
Of course, if you’re eating a vegan diet, many of these recipes can be adapted to fit your nutritional needs. A flax egg can stand-in for a real egg. (Just combine one tablespoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water.) Mashed banana, tofu, and applesauce can all work as well, depending on the recipe. As for sweeteners, monk fruit or agave can replace honey. And you can use vegan protein powder instead of collagen in the fro-yo—although, the texture will differ slightly.
In short, make these recipes your own. Baking—and especially baking dessert—can be a therapeutic activity that gives you teaspoons (and even I daresay, tablespoons) of joy.
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