Quick & Easy: Desserts with Three Ingredients or Less

published Apr 29, 2011
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Many desserts can be fussy and time-consuming but I tend to love the simple ones that come together quickly and allow me to linger around the table with my guests. In many cases, this kind of dessert is more about shopping than cooking, so having the right ingredients on hand is key. Read on for a pantry list and some delicious (but lightning quick!) recipe ideas. And leave us your favorite quick and simple dessert ideas in the comments!

It’s helpful to keep a few things on hand that you can grab for a quick dessert, especially if you have unexpected company for dinner or at tea time.

The Three-Ingredient-or-Less-Dessert Pantry
• Pints of good quality ice-cream in simple flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, strawberry
• Simple store-bought cookies like Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Thins and meringues
• Fresh fruit
• Mascarpone or greek yogurt
• Bars of good quality chocolate
• Nuts
• Dried fruit
• Honey
• Whipping cream
• Nutella

What To Do with Them
• Affogato: (hot espresso poured over vanilla ice cream)
• Vanilla ice-cream, served with ginger thin cookies and roasted almonds
Eton Mess: whipped cream with sliced fresh strawberries and crushed meringues stirred in.
Fool: Whipped cream with sugared fresh fruit (usually berries) swirled in, often served in pretty glasses. Raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc all make delicious fools.
• If you have any leftover rice, reheat it with with coconut milk and a little sugar for rice pudding. You can also top this with fruit (but that would make four ingredients!)
• Scatter good quality chocolate bars, pass bowls of dried fruit and nuts. In the summer, serve fresh fruit.


• Spread Nutella on slices of brioche toast, cut into triangles. (Optional: top with sliced banana.)

• Melon with Ginger Chili Syrup: Slice a melon into wedges and deseed. Drizzle with ginger syrup and sprinkle with finely diced chili. (Optional 4th ingredient: minced mint or basil.)

• Dates stuffed with goat’s cheese and topped with a walnut

• Peaches, halved and stoned, simmered in a sweet wine like muscat. Optional: Serve with ice cream or greek-style yogurt or mascarpone.

What do you keep on hand for dessert emergencies? What are some of your favorite quick desserts?

(Image: Dana Velden)