Sweet treats you can comfort yourself with while sheltering in place

Best Butter Cake
Annabelle Breakey

Now more than ever we find ourselves making comfort foods, and for me, at least, that means dessert. On the hunch that I’m not alone in craving sweetness right now, here are few favorite recipes. They’re all fairly easy, and beyond that, all have some degree of flexibility in ingredients, to allow for the unpredictable gaps we’re all seeing on supermarket shelves right now. Nut varieties, ice cream flavors…many kinds of similar ingredients can be swapped without significantly changing the result. (And if you just can’t find something, sometimes there are work-arounds.)

Mocha Ice Cream Pie

This rich, delicious frozen treat is made from things you may have in your cupboard already, and which, even lately, are not too hard to find in most supermarkets. There is also a lot of room for improvisation in this recipe. No almonds? Try pistachios. Or peanuts, or any nut you can find. Don’t like coffee? Use any flavor of ice cream you want. To make a straightforward preparation even easier, you can use a pre-made cookie-crumb crust.

Recipe: Mocha Ice Cream Pie

Ice Cream in a Bag

This DIY ice cream recipe is simplicity itself, and if you’ve ever made ice cream in your life, you probably have a half box of rock salt somewhere in your pantry. Even more ubiquitous Kosher salt will work, too. Be sure to use the toughest plastic bags you can get your hands on and zip them up tight, tight, tight—my own first attempt at this resulted in soft, uber-salted ice cream which was….a thing, but not the thing I was hoping for. Don’t be like me. Use the good bags.

Recipe: Ice Cream in a Bag

Caramel Sauce to Change Your Feelings about Caramel

And when your ice cream is ready, whip up a batch of this caramel sauce. Once you’ve tried homemade, with its buttery, toasty richness, you’ll never go back to canned. You can drizzle it on just about anything. We’re not judging. (I may or may not have put this in my breakfast coffee more than once.)

Recipe: DIY Caramel Sauce

A Chocolate Indulgence

Not that there has to be a special occasion, but if you do happen to be celebrating a socially-distant April birthday, this may be the cake to make. Go nuts; this rich, chocolaty cake is worth two precious eggs. If you can’t get some ingredients, or you’re too busy keeping the household together (weren’t we supposed to have all kinds of time on our hands? Where did that go?), you could cut a corner by using a cake mix or store-bought icing. But try to make time for whipping up both elements from scratch. It’s just the kind of spirit-lifting splurge we need right now.

Recipe: Best Butter Cake

Throwback to a Sweeter Time

This moist, rustic cake doesn’t require anything resembling specialized equipment—all you need is a skillet. The flavors are warm and full of holiday spices. Enjoy a slice while watching a Christmas movie marathon—we may all need a little holiday spirit right now.

Recipe: Pear Skillet Cake

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Also called teacakes, Mexican wedding cakes are actually cookies, not cakes. The one thing true to their name, though, is that they are indeed divine with tea (and coffee) and make a sweet, elegant end to dinner.

Recipe: Mexican Wedding Cakes

Buttery Shortbread Goodness

It’s devilishly easy to make classic shortbread. The fun lies in topping the cookies. (Well, also in the eating, of course!) Go simple with a sprinkle of sugar, make a citrus glaze, or really get creative with nuts or edible flowers. The recipes below include several suggestions, but you can use whatever you’d like, limited only by your imagination and pantry supplies.

Recipe: Ultimate Shortbread Cookies

Vegan Pavlova

I love a traditional pavlova, and often make it for Easter—the high egg count somehow seems appropriate. But with eggs in short supply in many supermarkets, the idea of cracking three or four at once and throwing away the yolk is unthinkable. I don’t have to do without, though. This vegan pavlova recipe using chickpea starch is a great alternative. The recipe calls for pomegranate and chocolate on top, but use whatever garnish you like. Strawberry and Kiwi are traditional but go with what’s in season.

Recipe: Vegan Pavlova