You don’t know what happened.
One moment, you were a pastry rock star. You were decorating the most beautiful cupcakes ever. Your gourmet prowess was unstoppable.
You just wanted to move those iced beauties to the kitchen table and display them for everyone to see how awesome you are. Er, they are.
But the next moment, your sweet creations are all on the ground, upside down. All that hard work and perfection splattered everywhere: on the floor, on the table, on you.
And company is coming in an hour.
I Know How You Feel
I can definitely empathize with you. Admittedly, something similar just happened to me the other night. And it actually inspired me to write this particular article for all of you!
Maybe I was tired, or I didn’t have enough of a grip on the pan. But in one quick second, while attempting to rotate a perfectly prepped vanilla butter cake that was baking in the oven, it somehow fell on the open oven door.
And half-baked, gooey batter went everywhere.
And I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times I have dropped pastries, cookies, cupcakes… pretty much every kind of dessert that exists. Right before I needed to serve them.
Hey, it happens.
But is it even possible to make a completely new dessert with no time at all?
It sure is. And Foodal is here to help!
The first action is simple: accept that your beloved baked goods are ruined.
We here at Foodal don’t tolerate the 5-second rule. Unless you’re cooking for yourself. And you’re really hungry. And nobody is watching.
Well, except that judgmental cat of yours, staring at you the whole time… But she doesn’t count, right?
If the food product you dropped still needs to be cooked, like raw chicken, you may still be able to save the original piece, once proper cleaning guidelines are followed.
With ready-to-eat foods, however, it’s a completely different scenario.
In the food profession, serving humans (snobby pets don’t count) ready-to-eat food that has fallen on the floor is unacceptable, and a major sanitary mistake.
The floor is covered in all sorts of maniacal microbes that you certainly do not want to consume, or have your guests ingest.
You know the saying: there’s no crying over spilled milk. The same goes for your fallen sugary goodies. You just need to get over it, and quickly move on to Plan B.
Your last course isn’t completely ruined. Be proactive and maintain a practical attitude as you solve this dessert disaster.
Keep reading for our quick and easy tricks to get your sweets on the table in no time!
Your BFF, the Freezer
The freezer is your saving grace for any last-minute emergency situations. It’s the ultimate chilly treasure chest of stored goodies you can use at a moment’s notice.
All you have to do is plan ahead.
Choose to buy items or make food that can be baked in advance and stored in the freezer for later use. Cookies, brownies, and quick breads freeze particularly well.
Try some of these selections from our recipe archive:
- Double Chocolate Orange Cookies
- Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
- Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Cranberry Nut Bread
- Multigrain Carrot Bread
- Zucchini Bread
- Chocolate Butter Balls
Place these items in a single layer in a freezer bag or layered with parchment paper in an airtight, freezer-friendly container. They will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.
You can easily defrost these at room temperature if you have a couple hours to spare before you need to serve dessert, or you can use the defrost button on your microwave for a speedier thaw.
You will be so relieved once you remember that you have a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies or fudge brownies safely stored in your freezer!
For fresh-baked goodness, for many of these recipes, the dough can be prepared and then frozen before baking.
If you portion your cookie dough so it’s ready to bake (rather than in one long log or large ball that’s hard as a rock) you can defrost and bake quickly – your guests will never know that this was your backup plan!
Need a little more help? We’ve got you covered!
Quick and Easy Ideas
There are plenty of ingredients you can keep stocked in your home to use if you are rushing to remake something. Try one of these superfast, no-cook ideas for your next emergency response!
1. DIY Sundae Bar
For an amusing, interactive, and sweet experience that will help feed a group of people, create a fun DIY sundae bar in just a few minutes!
Keep a variety of yummy toppings in your pantry and fridge. Ingredients like dried fruit, whipped cream, sprinkles, nuts, fresh bananas, chocolate sauce, maraschino cherries, and assorted candies are all welcome additions!
Take out the containers or cartons of ice cream, place the toppings in bowls, lay out utensils and ice cream scoops, and you’re ready in no time for a make-your-own sundae extravaganza.
Your pals Ben and Jerry (or Cuisinart and KitchenAid, if you have your own ice cream maker at home) will soon convince you that ice cream was actually a far better item to serve than that ruined 5-layered cake that’s now in the trashcan.
2. Fresh Fruit Bowls
For a healthy, fresh replacement, who would argue against a bowl of perfectly ripe, juicy fruit?
An assorted fruit salad is fast to make, and it’s a very quick alternative in the most desperate of situations. Your company may even thank you for keeping the last course light and refreshing after a heavy meal!
To add a little pizazz to a typical fruit bowl, stir in a few splashes of your favorite liqueur like orange-flavored Grand Marnier, or an almond-flavored amaretto with a small dash of sugar.
The liqueur and sugar will help to macerate the fresh fruit, and bump up the flavor and juiciness.
For the best fruit salad ever, think seasonally and keep an eye on what’s ripe and fresh in your area when you visit the grocery store or farmers market. If you pick up a few of the most enticing items whenever you’re at the market, you’ll never be at a loss when dessert crisis strikes.
Think juicy pears and crisp apples in the fall (like the delicious Honeycrisp); fresh and sweet berries, melons, and stone fruit in the late spring and through the summer; and citrus fruits in the winter.
Though they might not be available locally, tropical varieties also provide a delicious end to the meal. Grab a few ripe, juicy and aromatic mangoes, a plump papaya, or a whole pineapple – it’s not as hard to peel and slice at home as you might think!
3. Combine the Two
OK, maybe suggesting this as a third option is sort of cheating… but isn’t that really the point here? We’re talking about quick and creative fixes!
The simplest option here, and one that provides a nice change of pace from some of the usual sundae toppings, would be to top your frozen yogurt or dairy-free ice cream with fruit. And it’s easy to keep a few bags of the frozen kind on hand.
Flash-frozen fruit – like wild blueberries, peaches, or raspberries – also makes a delicious frozen dessert topping. Just warm a handful up in the microwave before topping a scoop or two of triple chocolate or French vanilla.
Fruits also make delicious natural and edible bowls. Try lemon sorbet served in hollowed lemons, orange sherbet in a fresh navel shell, or scoops of semifreddo in a pineapple bowl.
Best of all, there’s no cleanup to worry about – just toss the fruit rinds, and you’re all set. Almost makes up for that mess you made earlier!
We hope we have provided some useful tips and tricks to help you during your next sweet crisis. You have so many options for creating a delightful final touch to the meal, even with just a few minutes to spare!
If you would rather start completely over, and bake something fresh that day, our recipe for a giant skillet chocolate chip cookie can be made very quickly. And you don’t have to worry about wasting time portioning out the dough in individual mounds – just plop it all in a skillet, spread it out, and bake!
Do you have any other great ideas to share, for other readers to deploy when dessert emergency strikes? Share your advice in the comments below!
Photo credit: Shutterstock.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is a full-time cheesemonger and specialty foods buyer living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.