Cooking

Single All the Way

Love means never having to share Valentine's Day dessert (especially not this cake for one)
Photo: Lizzie Munro/Tasting Table
Dessert for One

Welcome to Short Order, Tasting Table's column for the next generation of adventurous food lovers.

There are many types of "being alone on Valentine's Day," and none of them deserves any shame. Maybe you've exhausted the Tinder pool, or your boo lives across the globe. Maybe you're voluntarily alone, which is a baller move and highly understandable; one can only hear "Netflix and chill" so many times without wanting to take a jackhammer to the world at large.

But the fact remains: You're alone on Valentine's Day, and everyone else is off spoon-feeding each other chocolate cake and out-of-season strawberries.

Riding solo mid-February is no reason to skimp on treats—especially for yo'self. I eat at least two desserts every day and I don't have roommates, so dessert for one is really all I know. Think of it as a blessing: Sharing is really, really hard sometimes. Think back to the best dessert you ever ate. Did you want to share it? Of course, you didn't. You wanted to hold it close and never let it go. A wise man once said, "Every pizza is a personal pizza if you try hard enough," and I'd argue that the same is true for cake. But here are some more rational dessert-for-one ideas for the holiday this Sunday:

① Get intimate with your freezer.

Forget humans. The freezer is your boyfriend. Many cookie recipes are their best selves after a rest, and you can just take and bake individual cookies when the need arises. Want to know how many pre-portioned cookie dough balls I have in my freezer? One less than I did last night; I'll tell you that. Breakfast was calling. The "out of sight, out of mind" trick also works to help stop you from taking down the full cookie sheet.

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② Purchase a baby.

Pan. A baby pan. You might feel ridiculous making a cake for ants, but for the sake of being practical, it's the way to go. And specialty cooking stores have many options. Pie for one? All you. Another new friend: a ramekin. With a name like that, it's pretty lonely, too; show it some love. I also bought myself a baby spoon and can't get enough of it. I use it when I make a treat in my miniature Bundt pan.

③ Size matters.

Every high school math class was really just preparing you for downsizing recipes. Though cookie dough freezes well, you don't always want extra cake batter hanging out. So simply divide the recipe accordingly to fit your needs. This cheat sheet will help you figure out how much you need to fit certain pans. And, yes, you can divide an egg in half—just lightly whisk it, weigh it and scoop out half the mass.

④ Do the 'wave.

For a two-minute cake recipe designed for you, we turn to the magic of the microwave. Preheating the oven? Ain't nobody got time for that. Put ¼ cup of flour in a small, microwavable bowl. (This is not a mug cake. It's a bowl cake. Bowls have more dignity than mugs.) I like using spelt, because it feels virtuous but doesn't taste like dirt.

Add ¼ teaspoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt and ½ teaspoon of a nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger combination. Feel free to cut corners and use pumpkin pie spice. Add 1 tablespoon of mashed sweet potato or pumpkin, 3 tablespoons of milk (dairy or nondairy) and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and mix everything together. I don't care if it's not October; pumpkin is always appropriate.

Add some chocolate chips or candied ginger if it's your thing (it sure is mine), then microwave the concoction for 1 to 2 minutes until you've harnessed microwave sorcery to make a fluffy, personal cake. Then make it rain with sprinkles, vanilla ice cream and solo empowerment.

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