14 Quick Desserts Ready in One Hour or Less

Chocolate Cupcakes
Photo: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Sometimes you might be in the mood to dedicate an afternoon to a dessert, creating complex cakes, tarts, and other treats that require more than a few hours (or even more than a day). Other days, you need faster gratification — and that's where these recipes come in. All 14 of these desserts are ready in one hour or less, from chocolate chip cookies to cobblers and yes, even cakes. Make yourself a batch of elegant Tropical Mendiants, which we liken to "mini, open-faced chocolate candy bars," or these absolutely dreamy Air Fryer Brownies. Have fresh fruit to use up? Treat yourself to some Tanghulu (Candied Fruit Skewers), which are just as beautiful as they are delicious. There are all kinds of quick, tasty treats in this collection — all you need to do is pick one, and you'll be done before you know it.

01 of 14

Salted Caramel S'mores

Salted Caramel S'mores Recipe
Johnny Autry

Homemade graham crackers add a deeper, almost caramel-like flavor to these next-level s'mores. Filled with the classic combo of marshmallow and chocolate squares, they get a drizzle of salted caramel for a rich and gooey bite. Chef Andrae Bopp opts for drama and uses his kitchen torch to char the marshmallows; your oven's broiler or a campfire will work just as well.

02 of 14

Wine-Poached Strawberries and Apricots

Wine Poached Strawberries and Apricot
Victor Protasio

Semi-dry Riesling, which is refreshing and not too sweet, is the secret to this impressive, balanced dessert. Dried apricots lend a gentle bitterness while the strawberries add sweetness and impart the rosiest color. Unsweetened whipped cream make you nervous? Trust us — the boozy berries provide all the sweetness this dessert needs.

03 of 14

Air Fryer Brownies

Air Fryer Brownies with ice cream
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

With the help of an air fryer, these gooey, fudgy brownies — baked in ramekins and reminiscent of a molten chocolate cake — are less than an hour away. Adding espresso powder to the batter helps bring out the chocolate flavor, as does the crunchy sea salt garnish at the end. Serve them on their own, or with your favorite ice cream. Better yet, top them with berries, whipped cream, chopped nuts, or caramel sauce to make a brownie sundae.

04 of 14

Molten Chocolate Cakes

Molten Chocolate Cake Recipe
Jennifer Causey

Speaking of molten chocolate cakes, try these from chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, ready in just 35 minutes. They're supremely rich and chocolaty — if you want to pair them with wine, we'd recommend a Ruby Porto. Feel free to serve the cakes plain or topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

05 of 14

Tanghulu (Candied Fruit Skewers)

Tanghulu (Candied Fruit Skewers)
Photo by Jacob Fox / Food Styling by Greg Luna / Prop Styling by Stephanie Hunter

The perfect tanghulu is a skewer of ripe fruit covered evenly in a thin, clear sugar shell. This simple recipe for the Chinese street snack relies on a precise ratio of sugar, water, and corn syrup that produces a crisp, even candy shell. Be sure to thoroughly dry the fruit prior to dipping it in the syrup. To add a sweet chew or nutty crunch to these treats, stuff the fruits with red bean paste or walnuts prior to skewering and dunking.

06 of 14

Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

These classic chocolate cupcakes come together in 45 minutes and can easily be prepared in advance (even frozen!), making them great for entertaining. You can pick from three frosting recipes to finish them off — chocolate, marshmallow, or white buttercream.

07 of 14

Strawberry, Lemon, and Vanilla Ice Cream Parfait

Strawberry, Lemon and Vanilla Ice Cream Parfait
© Danielle Tsi

Fresh strawberry sauce and refreshing lemon sorbet make these giant sundaes a delightful early summer treat. Crushed graham crackers add a nice crunch, while vanilla ice cream brings sweet creaminess to the parfaits. A dollop of fresh whipped cream and more crushed graham crackers top the parfaits off.

08 of 14

Roasted Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream and Balsamic Syrup

Roasted peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream and balsamic syrup
© Fredrika Stjärne

"I'm no pastry chef, but I bake a killer cobbler," says chef and TV host Andrew Zimmern. He tops this roasted peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream and thick, rich aged balsamic syrup for a summer-ready dessert, each baked individually in an eight-ounce ramekin.

09 of 14

Platanos Foster

Plantains Foster
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Pastry chef Paola Velez gives Bananas Foster, the classic flambéed dessert, a Caribbean twist by swapping in plantains for the bananas and adding warm spices and coconut water to the caramel sauce. If you can't find extra ripe plantains, place them in a brown paper bag and leave them in a warm, dark place until they ripen — keep in mind that very green plantains could take a week or more. When flambéing, make sure to have the lid for your skillet on hand in case the flame gets out of control and you need to smother it. Rum raisin ice cream is the perfect accompaniment to the caramelly plantains.

10 of 14

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
© Emily Farris

These chocolate chip cookies take less than half an hour to make from start-to-finish. If you want to get a head-start and make things even quicker, you can freeze the unbaked dough in a log — tightly wrapped in plastic wrap — for up to two months. Once ready to bake, slice the dough into 1/2-inch pieces and let those pieces defrost on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes before baking.

11 of 14

Chocolate-Chip-Pecan Cookie Bars

Chocolate-Chip-Pecan Cookie Bars

These cookie bars are studded with toasted pecans and semisweet chocolate chips, but feel free to mix things up. Try walnuts or almonds instead of pecans, or swap out the chocolate chips for dried cranberries. The bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

12 of 14

Extra-Creamy Chocolate Mousse

Extra-Creamy Chocolate Mousse
© Christina Holmes

What sets pastry chef Dominique Ansel's chocolate mousse apart from other versions of the dessert is that he folds in the chocolate just before serving, giving this a striking swirled look. The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate — try to use 70 percent, if available.

13 of 14

Tropical Mendiants

mendicants topped with dried fruit, seeds, and nuts
Farrah Skeiky

Paola Velez's stunning mendiants are surprisingly easy to make with her simple method for tempering chocolate in the microwave. Piped into rounds, the chocolates are topped with a colorful mix of tropical fruit, toasted nuts, and seeds. Like mini, open-faced chocolate candy bars, the mendiants can be made ahead and served right from the fridge.

14 of 14

Birdseed Rice Crispy Treats

Birdseed Marshmallow Crispy Treats Recipe
Photo by Johnny Autry / Food and Prop Styling by Charlotte Autry

Chef Kim Alter's original recipe for these updated classic treats featured a "birdseed" mixture of puffed grain and brown rice; we riffed on her idea and added some toasted and raw seeds and flaky sea salt to add even more layers of flavor. Once made, the crispy treats can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles