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Real Caramel Sauce for One

Real Caramel Sauce for One

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I know there are lots of ways out there to make ‘easy’ caramel– usually involving sweetened condensed milk alone (dulce de leche) or with brown sugar (cooked to just a high-enough temp to taste like caramel.)  I’m not here to knock either of those two methods– they certainly have their places.  I love to use dulce de leche in this icing, and when I lived in South America, we ate it daily on bread for breakfast.  It was heavenly.  Likewise, the brown sugar stuff is great for caramel apples in the fall, and for an easy chocolate-fondue alternative.

But today I’m back from a long vacation, and ready for the real thing:  pure sugar with a bit of water (and Karo to avoid crystalization), brought almost to the smoke-point. Combine this with heavy cream and a little butter, and it is caramel perfection.  Don’t be scared.  Throw fear (but not safety) out the window, and follow these directions closely.  There is nothing like pure sugar after that beautiful, fragrant and fast-moving process of caramelization!

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Quickest Little Birthday Cake

Quickest Little Birthday Cake

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Here at the Small Table, I often need a downsized dessert on the fly.  While none of the recipes on this site take a crazy amount of time, this Quickest Little Birthday Cake wins for being fastest, impressive, delicious, and thoughtful.  You may have friends coming over for games, neighbors stopping in, or it’s your turn to host the playdate– on those days, leave off the candle and just serve cake!  The best-case scenario, of course, is that it actually is someone’s birthday:  when that happens, this cake comes beautifully to the rescue.

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S’mores Cones: Big, Big Pinterest Win

S’mores Cones: Big, Big Pinterest Win

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Little S and I were alone for dinner last night, and so we ate, umm…these.  (OK– we also had carrots, broccoli and hummus.  But still.  We lived wild.)  This was a great idea that I picked up on a stroll through Pinterest, and comes from a post last year by Lina at Hip2Save.  (I could have been making these for a whole year and didn’t know it!)  Such a s’mores upgrade– since it’s in a cone, you can fit in more stuff without worrying that it will fall out the sides.  It is as easy as it looks.

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6-Inch Blueberry Cheese Tart

6-Inch Blueberry Cheese Tart

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There are so many ways to fill the tart crust from Thursday’s post.  This is one of my favorites for breakfast or dessert during blueberry season (now!)  Delightful at room temperature or cold, it can be made the day-of, or the night before and stored in the fridge.  The blueberry cheese tart makes a wonderful small brunch with ham, fruit and orange juice.  Or use it as a light dessert after a heavier meal.

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My Favorite (Quick!) Tart Crust

My Favorite (Quick!) Tart Crust

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I admit that I love cute little pans, and I have many of them.  But, oh, what you can do with a 6-inch tart pan!  If you only have a 6-inch cake or pie pan, this will still work, it just won’t have the cute tart shape.  In any case, tart pans are not expensive (Sur La Table), so I would encourage you to get one if you are inclined.

This crust is easy, quick, cholesterol free, and can be used for a million fillings– from sweet to savory and back again; from baked to fresh to chilled to frozen– this is your baby! (Or at least it’s my baby, haha.)  Just think of the possibilities!  But you have to start somewhere, and today we start with the crust.

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Smallest Batch Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Smallest Batch Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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OK!  Time to use that egg white left over from Tuesday’s cupcakes.  If you have never tried Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB), you are in for a delightfully different type of icing.  It is less sweet, and much richer than usual buttercream– it truly melts in your mouth.  To me, this equals a much more sophisticated taste, and I am a huge fan.  Some people think it is hard to make, but if you follow these directions carefully, you will finish with a splendid new icing that you will use over and over.  Keep an open mind, and this may become your new favorite way to top a cake.

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Small Batch Luscious Chocolate Cupcakes

Small Batch Luscious Chocolate Cupcakes

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Holiday…coming…up…must…celebrate…with…color-coordinated…food!!!  I try not to get TOO crazy about food and holidays, but each one has at least some special food that should go with it:  First and last days of school = crazy ice cream flavors.  Thanksgiving = sugar cones filled with candy to look like cornucopias.  Heart-shaped sugar cookies = Valentine’s Day.  You get the idea.   So anyway, these are this year’s offering for the 4th of July (soon to be upon us!)

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Pot de Creme au Chocolat– For One!

Pot de Creme au Chocolat– For One!

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Seriously!  The creation of this recipe required three attempts.  Since I am my own taste tester (someone has to do it!) I can tell you that it was pretty fun to eat all three (different days– don’t worry.)  The little French custards that are Pots de Crème have been famous at the Small Table basically forever.  But how do you make just one Pot de Crème?  Allow me to introduce you to a dangerous recipe– and an excellent use for just one egg yolk.  (Use the white here.)

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Ice Cream to Keep You Busy

Ice Cream to Keep You Busy

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Happy Monday!  Today I’m sharing several links for the ever-popular 2-ingredient no-churn ice cream that is ubiquitous on the internet.  It’s everywhere, frankly, because it’s GOOD!  And EASY!  I know purists are rolling their collective eyeballs at this recipe, but after holding out for a long time (my friend gave me an ice cream maker a few years ago, after all) I have finally embraced it.  To alter these recipes for small batch, use half a can of sweetened condensed milk, and 1 cup of heavy cream as a base.  To make enough for just one serving, use a quarter-can of SCM and 1/2 cup heavy cream.

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Small Batch Almond Breakfast Cookies

Small Batch Almond Breakfast Cookies

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These almond cookies are delicious, portable, and not too sweet– perfect for breakfast on the go.  I have adapted the recipe from cookforyourlife.org, a website dedicated to healthy recipes for those touched by cancer.  They have a wonderful collection that is great for inspiration, and I encourage you to have a look around if you are interested.   I love these cookies, since they are a great use for just one egg white (which I often have in my freezer patiently waiting for its moment to shine.)

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Hot Fudge Sauce for One

Hot Fudge Sauce for One

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I love [chocolate] ice cream!  I wish I could say that I love all flavors, or even many flavors– because I know there are lots of fine ones out there.  But somehow I never feel satisfied at the end of my frozen feast unless there was at least some chocolate in the flavor I chose.  True.  Chocolate is essential.  That brings us to last Sunday.  Mr. Luxury told me on Saturday that he wanted to take care of Sunday dinner(!), and that it would be a special treat– which he did, and it was!  We were very full after the meal, and he decided to take a little nap between dinner and dessert.  I seized this moment (sneakily but lovingly!) to check on the flavor of ice cream he had purchased.  Alas, caramel but no chocolate.  That’s when I remembered that I knew an old recipe for homemade hot fudge sauce.  A few minutes later, voilà– hot fudge to the rescue.  Chocolate thus introduced, the meal ended perfectly!  Use in any chocolate emergency.

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Small Cake Series: White Chocolate Berry Cake

Small Cake Series: White Chocolate Berry Cake

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Here’s a little something to brighten your Monday morning: plan to make this lovely cake sometime this week!  Berries and white chocolate love to be together for dessert.  I developed this recipe back in my farmers market days, and it has certainly stood the test of time.   It’s gone through a million revisions, so the one I present to you today is truly my baby, and I am quite proud of it.  Do not question the secret ingredient, friends.  It is the key to a moist, dense, perfect golden cake– one that will serve you well for years to come.  Once you master this small cake, you will think of so many ways to change it up.

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Strawberry Nutella Hand-Cake for One

Strawberry Nutella Hand-Cake for One

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Here in Small Table Land, we really do  try to sit down to breakfast each morning, though it’s sometimes hectic.  If we can’t get all three of us at one sitting, we can usually get 2/3.  (This is because food takes priority for me over almost everything except clean socks.)  Once in a while, however, we eat on the run.  Hand-Cakes let us eat something hearty and delicious, without the aid of a chair or a fork.

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Just Five Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (with coconut!)

Just Five Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (with coconut!)

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Who can argue with a batch of just FIVE cookies?  It’s the ideal amount to hoard for the weekend, or to share with someone really nice (or someone you wish were nicer!)  That’s why we have to call them perfect.  That, and the fact that they are delicious on their own or with any sorts of add-ins you come up with.  I put flaked coconut in mine, but you can let yourself be inspired by any number of other mixer-ideas.  Take, for example, Momofuku Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies.  Pastry chef Christina Tosi adds pretzels, potato chips, coffee grounds, oatmeal, butterscotch chips, graham cracker crumbs… you see?

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Pistachio Meringue Cookies for One

Pistachio Meringue Cookies for One

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It has taken me a while to come around to meringue, particularly because the French macaron is certainly stunning, but so finicky to make.  Also because I don’t like meringue cookies that are all the way dried-out– they just always remind me of chalk.  This one is different, however.  Simple to make, it stays crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, it’s filled with pistachios(!), and I have modified the recipe to use just one egg white– perfect for the smallest batch.

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Small Cake Series: Orange-Ginger Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Small Cake Series: Orange-Ginger Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

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Each year, Mr. Luxury, Little S, and I celebrate Easter with a special springtime dinner.  We also have friends whose springtime celebrations include Passover*, Nowruz, Whitsunday, and even just a big party for the vernal equinox.  Whatever you are celebrating this spring, I hope you feel the wonder of the earth coming back to life all around you.  This is the small cake I love to make for our Easter dessert, and it’s seriously the very best carrot cake I have ever tasted.  Use it for any (small) party you want!

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Small Lemon-Ginger Custard Pie with Toasted Almond Crust

Small Lemon-Ginger Custard Pie with Toasted Almond Crust

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Ah, the elegance of a small, silky pie.  Thank you to Archimedes of Syracuse and to Geometry teachers everywhere for sponsoring today’s deliciousness.  As you will see all over the cooking world, today, March 14 (3.14) is dedicated to all things pi(e).  Similar to the cakes from my Small Cake Series, a small pie can be shared if you wish.  But it certainly doesn’t have to be:  leftover pie for breakfast is a lovely indulgence.

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Small Cake Series: Dense Fudge Cake with Dulce de Leche Icing

Small Cake Series: Dense Fudge Cake with Dulce de Leche Icing

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Oh, the glories of a small cake!  It’s perfectly sized for one person with some left over for the rest of the weekend.  Or, if you are feeling very generous, you can share small pieces with up to three of your most deserving friends.  They’d better be deserving, though, because the cakes in this series are only the best.   Today’s cake is a downsized version of one of my best-selling cakes from the Farmers Market:  the Dense Fudge Cake with Dulce de Leche Icing.  Glorious.

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The Personal Puff Pancake

The Personal Puff Pancake

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I was introduced to this traditional breakfast treat/science experiment by my brother when we were teenagers.  I have no idea where he got the recipe, but one Saturday morning while the rest of us were watching cartoons (yep, it was those days)  he took a big glass pie plate, poured in some butter and some batter, and amazed us all with his inflatable breakfast.  This is great for a morning when you have a little time for luxury, and is also perfect for when you feel like having breakfast for dinner.  Serve with some bacon and orange juice, and you’ve got your own little oasis of breakfast bliss.

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