Simple Ways to Use Store-Bought Ingredients for Speedy Desserts

Desserts are some of the most intimidating recipes out there. While savory cooking is often referred to as an art with plenty of room for improvisation, baking isn’t as flexible. Even making a humble chocolate chip cookie is like a lesson in chemistry. And that doesn’t even cover the complicated things like molding sugar or tempering chocolate. In addition to being difficult, many sweets just take way too long.

Nobody has the time to bake multiple components, cook up custards, and layer everything with the precision of a toothpick architect. But there’s no need to give up enjoying something sweet every now and then when you get a little bit of help from some store-bought products. With these 7 speedy desserts, making treats just got a lot more doable.

1. Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Box Cake

chocolate chip cookies, packaged

Chocolate chip cookies | iStock.com

Traditional ice box cakes layer chocolate wafer cookies with plain whipped cream. It’s a great go-to, but this version from Food.com completely reinvents the old standby for something a little more exciting. Start by whipping some cream, then mix in the chocolate hazelnut spread and some cocoa powder. Layer milk-dunked cookies with the chocolate cream, and that’s all there is to it. Best of all, this recipe benefits from being made in advance. Make sure to assemble at least 12 hours before you plan to eat to allow the cookies to soften.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 (13-ounce) jar chocolate hazelnut spread
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 (13-ounce) bags crunchy chocolate chip cookies
  • ½ cup milk

Directions: Whip the cream until it just begins to hold very soft peaks. Add the hazelnut spread and cocoa powder, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

Briefly dip each cookie in the milk, then layer half of cookies in the bottom of an 8-inch square pan, overlapping as needed. Layer one-third of cream mixture on top. Repeat layers, finishing with cream on top.

Refrigerate ice box cake for at least 12 hours. Serve. Stores for up to one week in the refrigerator.

2. Quick Raspberry Charlotte

frozen raspberries

Raspberries | iStock.com

This beloved French dessert typically consists of homemade cake and custard, but this quick version from Epicurious has a few secrets. Swapping in ladyfingers means you won’t even have to turn on the oven, and the filling might be the most clever part. Instead of making a fussy custard to soak the cake, this recipe calls for melted ice cream. Then it’s topped off with a super simple raspberry whipped cream. If you have 15 minutes, you have time to make this stunning treat.

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces crisp Italian ladyfingers
  • 1 tablespoon cognac
  • 1 pint premium vanilla ice cream, melted
  • 10 ounces frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup water
  • Rounded ¼ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup chilled heavy cream

Directions: Layer ladyfingers in a soufflé or baking dish. Stir cognac into melted ice cream, and pour over ladyfingers. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Purée raspberries with water, sugar, and lemon juice in a blender until completely smooth.

Beat cream with an electric mixer until it just hold stiff peaks, then add ¾ cup raspberry sauce, and continue to beat until mixture holds soft peaks.

Lightly press on cookies with spatula to compact, then drizzle with ½ cup raspberry sauce. Spread raspberry cream evenly on top. Chill, covered, in freezer for 30 minutes. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce on side.

3. Vanilla Bean Crepe Cake

Crepe cake

Crepe cake | iStock.com

When you want to watch your friends’ jaws drop, presenting them with a towering crepe cake is the way to go. Making crepes can be a challenge since the batter has to be just the right consistency and the pan at just the right temperature. Then there’s the difficulty of flipping them without causing any tears. Skip all of the frustration and use some purchased ones in Midwest Living’s gorgeous dessert. All you have to do is layer the store-bought goodies with some sweetened mascarpone, then top it off with some whipped cream and berries.

Feel free to play around with different flavor combinations, because this recipe is really more of a guide. Try adding melted chocolate and orange zest to the mascarpone, or go for a filling made with cream cheese and lemon zest. Pick your favorite flavor combination and go from there.

Ingredients:

  • 12 purchased crepes
  • 2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone cheese
  • ⅔ cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, divided
  • ⅔ cup whipping cream, divided
  • 2¼ teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
  • 2 cups assorted berries

Directions: In a medium bowl, beat mascarpone with ⅔ cup powdered sugar, ⅓ cup whipping cream, and 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, until well combined.

Place one crepe on a plate, then spread on ¼ cup of mascarpone filling in an even layer. Repeat with remaining crepes and filling. Chill, loosely covered, in fridge for at least 4 hours, and up to 24 hours.

In a medium bowl, beat remaining cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean paste, or extract, until mixture holds soft peaks. Top crepe cake with whipped cream and 1 cup berries. Serve, passing remaining berries.

4. Turtle Cheesecake Trifle

parfait, turtle

Make super speedy desserts with this recipe for turtle cheesecake trifle | iStock.com

Making a trifle is usually a multiple-day-long process since you have to let the cake cool before cutting it into cubes and layering with a filling. Mom on Timeout’s turtle cheesecake trifle speeds things up with some purchased pound cake as well as jarred caramel and fudge sauces. Feel free to make individual servings for a really stunning presentation. You’ll get all the creamy taste of a rich cheesecake without all the work. Sounds like one sweet recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (10.75-ounce) frozen pound cakes, thawed
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 12 ounces whipped topping
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 10 ounces caramel sauce
  • 10 ounces hot fudge sauce

Directions: Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add vanilla and sugar; beat until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in whipped topping.

Cut cake into cubes, then layer half of cubes in bottom of a trifle or casserole. Drizzle with caramel and hot fudge, sprinkle with pecans, then top with one-third of cream cheese mixture. Drizzle with more caramel and hot fudge, sprinkle with pecans. Repeat layers two more times. Chill until cold. Serve.

5. Lemon Blackberry Mini Tarts

mini tarts, berries

Lemon blackberry mini tarts | iStock.com

Parties and luncheons often call for desserts that are portioned for individuals. Sadly, those tiny treats are usually a lot of work. Make things a little bit easier next time with these easy tarts from Better Homes and Gardens. Just line individual tart pans with purchased pie dough, bake it off, then dollop in a filling made from store-bought lemon curd and cream cheese. Though this recipe calls for blackberries, any of your favorites will work just fine. We particularly like blueberries. Once the tarts chill out, top with a few berries, and a drizzle of jam, and these desserts are ready to party.

Ingredients:

  • ½ (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crust
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup purchased lemon curd
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons seedless blackberry jam
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Mint sprigs
  • Powdered sugar

Directions: Let piecrust stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfold piecrust. Cut 4 (4½- to 5-inch) rounds from piecrust. Press rounds into bottom and up sides of four (3½- to 4-inch) individual tart pans with removable bottoms. Trim edges and prick bottoms all over with a fork. Set on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

In a small mixing bowls, beat cream cheese and lemon curd on medium speed until smooth. Divide filling among tart crusts. Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Before serving, remove from pans. Top tarts with berries. Combine jam and lemon juice; drizzle over tarts. Garnish with mint and powdered sugar.

6. Eton mess

eton mess, meringue, strawberry

Eton mess | Stock.com

This British classic has been reinvented over and over. While most recipes are easy to make, they frequently require around 4 hours of baking and drying time for the meringues to get perfectly crisp. And if you’re dealing with any humidity, you can forget about achieving that nice crunch. This version from Nigella Lawson, featured on Food Network, turns it into a no-fail recipe by using meringues from the grocery store. Just layer with the macerated berries and cream for a crunchy and creamy delight that is sure to become part of your regular rotation.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 package meringue nests

Directions: Hull and chop the strawberries Place in a bowl with sugar and pomegranate juice. Allow to macerate for about 15 minutes.

Whip cream in a large bowl until thick, but still soft. Roughly crumble in 4 of the meringue nests.

Reserve ½ cup of strawberries. Fold meringue cream with the rest of the fruit.

Divide mixture among 4 glasses. Top each with reserved berries. Serve immediately.

7. Simple Berry Crisp

Fruit Crisp

Berry crisp | iStock.com

This fruit-filled treat from Whole Foods Market is one of the fastest treats you’ll ever make since it replaces the standard crumble with some butter-moistened granola. Simply toss the berries with flour and sugar. Top off with the granola mixture, and bake for about 30 minutes. Made from ingredients that are likely already in your pantry, this easy sweet is so fast that it’s perfect for a last-minute dinner party. Any combination of berries will work, so use your favorites.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups frozen berries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups granola
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Vanilla ice cream or yogurt

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, toss berries, sugar, and flour together. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish, set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss granola with butter, then scatter over berries. Bake until top is golden and berries juices are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let cool, then spoon into dishes. Serve with ice cream or yogurt, if desired.