I have dinner parties down pat. But when it comes to hosting a big brunch party, that's when things in my kitchen can go awry.
I always mean to wake at dawn, to give myself the time to execute whatever elaborate menu I've planned with the precision and efficiency of a brain surgeon. But bed is the best — and when coupled with a gentle breeze drifting in through open windows, and the light of a weekend morning flickering across my comforter? Early rising stands no chance.
The first brunch–menu victim is always, always dessert. When it's almost noon and I've only just put a pork shoulder in the oven, you can bet I'm scrapping the triple-decker pavlova I'd ambitiously sketched on the back of a bar napkin days earlier. This is where my most-trusted shortcut desserts come into play.
I'm talking about cookies that require little more than stirring and scooping, or cakes that bake up in a flash (seemingly through sheer force of will). Each is as impressive and delicious as something from the fancy bakery below my apartment — but comes together with ease and speed, right at home.
This tangy, chocolatey "pudding" takes five minutes to make, and about one minute to devour. It scales like a dream, so you don't have to stress about proportions when making it for a big crowd. Dress it up with whatever garnishes you like — berries, crumbled cookies, chocolate shavings, and maple-sweetened Greek yogurt all make for an impressive flourish.
Meet the dead-simple molasses cookies that are somehow simultaneously cozy and refreshing. Add your favorite spice (like cinnamon) for extra depth, or let the buttery molasses flavor reign supreme — either will be perfect.
This extra-fudgy chocolate cake comes together in just 20 minutes, and requires only that you know how to stir. And lift a fork to your mouth.
Good luck keeping your guests away from these slightly tangy, perfectly chewy cream cheese cookies while they cool. Perhaps you can distract them with this bombshell: They require only four ingredients (butter, cream cheese, sugar, flour), plus a big pinch of salt.
Amanda Hesser writes that this is "the dessert that you want in your back pocket, ready for guests at a moment's notice." Hear, hear.
These molten chocolate cakes have a surprise twist: just the right amount of clementine zest. They bake for just 10 minutes, and taste like something you'd buy a plane ticket to try in Paris. (For bigger groups, double — or triple — the recipe and ramekin count.)
Olive oil and maple syrup join forces in these chubby, tender, crackly-edged chocolate chip cookies. You wouldn't regret making a double batch.
How could something so deeply simple — broiled bananas, brown sugar, cream, and salt — taste so decadent? (That was rhetorical. Pass me the skillet and a spoon, please.)
Fair warning: If you make your guests this swirly peanut-butter chocolate mousse, they may never want to leave.
These cookies are basically magic. The only thing they could possibly need, for serving? A glass of milk. Kisses fingers.
This story was originally published on Food52.com: 10-crowd pleasing desserts that take 30 minutes or less.