9 Unbelievable Dessert Hacks That Will Make You a Sweet Genius

Look, we’re cool if you freeze waffles for breakfast. And if you make your work lunches the night before, we won’t blame you either. But when it comes to dessert, we mean business. We want nothing less than the best, most decadent treats — because there’s a difference between sorbet and sherbert. And you’re not fooling anyone when you call French toast pain perdu.

But we also know there are those days when you can’t be bothered to temper your chocolate. When you forgot to bring the butter to room temperature but you need cookies now. It happens. So we rounded up the smartest ways to up your pastry game, from one-ingredient ice cream to ridiculously easy chocolate mousse. Here’s to making your sweet life a little easier.

Image: Tucker

by Lisa Siva

Temper Chocolate with a Microwave

Chocolate is needy. It has to have its cocoa butter crystals just so, or it’ll get streaky and sad. Gordon Ramsay would tell you to heat it in a double boiler and pour it onto a marble slab — but we’ll just throw it all in the microwave. Our friends at Food52 show us how to mix room temperature and melted chocolate for the perfect temper.

Image: Deliciously Yum

Caramelize Your White Chocolate

Don’t forget about white chocolate — bittersweet’s humbler cousin. It gets a bad rep for its cloying sweetness, but when you chop it up and throw it in the oven, it truly shines. Head over to Will Cook for Friends to see how it’s done — and then use it in everything, from cake batter to ice cream.

Image: Will Cook for Friends

Make Ice Cream with One Ingredient

If you’re like us, you already love making ice cream. You have the perfect recipes, and you’ve mastered the art of whipping egg yolks like a pro. Forget it all and use just one ingredient: bananas. Peel, cut, and freeze them — and when they’re good and icy, blend them up into one genius ice cream. The Kitchn breaks it down.

Image: The Kitchn

Turn Your Ice Cream into Bread

Yes, ice cream bread is a thing. Yes, it is absurdly delicious. If you have leftover banana ice cream, fold it with self-rising flour and whatever toppings strike your fancy. Food Fanatic opts for Oreos.

Image: Food Fanatic

Make Your Puff Pastry Work

We’ll be the first ones to sing the praises of homemade pastries. But when you’re in a pinch, thaw out some puff pastry dough, brush it with Speculoos, and you have a bakery-worthy dessert in less than half an hour. Thanks, Have Cake Will Travel!

Image: Have Cake Will Travel

The Softer Side of Brown Sugar

Maybe you didn’t think this through. You wanted cookies, but you forgot to seal up your brown sugar with a slice of bread, and now it’s hard enough to beat someone over the head with. Never fear! The Kitchn shows us how to soften up sugar in a pinch with just a moist paper towel and a microwave, so you can spend more time on the things that matter — like eating these cookie bars.

Image: My Name Is Yeh

Butter Up

Who knew your microwave was such a kitchen pro? If you forgot to bring your butter to room temperature and don’t enjoy whipping solid blocks of cream, feel free to throw them in the microwave — just make sure you put them on a toothpick tripod, à la Lifehacker. This will keep your butter off the plate, so it’ll be heated through without melting. You can thank us with a fresh batch of cookies.

Image: Tucker

You're Ballin'

So your cake crumbled the minute you turned it onto a cooling rack. Or maybe it’s drier than the Sahara desert. Whatever your cake failure may be, turn it into pastry gold by crumbling it up, mixing it with frosting or cream cheese, and dipping the whole thing in melted (tempered!) chocolate. Voilà — cake balls! Half Baked Harvest has a recipe to get you started.

Image: Half Baked Harvest

A Mousse That Will Blow Your Mind

Mousse is one of those things that sounds fancy no matter what. It’s traditionally made with egg whites whipped into a meringue — but this genius mousse calls for just two ingredients: chocolate and water. Everything else is the cherry (or the whipped cream) on top. It’s mindblowing. It’s crazy simple. And it’s the best mousse you’ve ever tasted. Oh, Ladycakes has the recipe.

Image: Oh, Ladycakes