Easy dinner recipes: 3 tempting after-dinner dessert ideas

Let's get the weekend started by thinking beyond dinner to dessert. These simple dishes are sure to make a picture-perfect finish to any meal:

Pistachio creme brulee: You'll love the subtle pistachio undertones of this creme brulee, a nice take on this classic custard topped with the brittle caramel crust. It's a perfect dessert to make in advance if you're entertaining.


Citrus tiramisu: Love tiramisu? Or perhaps you'd love the dessert if only it wasn't overwhelmed with coffee flavor. Either way, you have to try this take from Cayenne Cafe. Light and bright, with fresh lemon notes, it's a cool take on the classic dessert, Italian for "pick me up."

consider flank steaks with fresh chimichurri sauce. The sauce -- a little garlic, red wine vinegar, oil, fresh herbs and a touch of lemon juice -- comes together in almost no time, and those steaks will grill up in minutes. - See more at:

Paradise bars: Pecans and coconut combine in a chewy, caremely, sweet topping baked over a rich shortbreadlike crust. Need I say more?

You can find all of the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at


1 hour, plus cooling and chilling time. Serves 6

1/3 cup raw shelled pistachios

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar, divided, plus extra for bruléeing

1/2 vanilla bean, seeded

5 egg yolks


1. Prepare the pistachio paste: In an oven heated to 350 degrees, toast the pistachios until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and cover with a towel, rolling to remove the skins from the hot pistachios. Grind the hot pistachios in a food processor until they are reduced to a paste. This should make about 2 1/2 tablespoons paste. Set aside.

2. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.

3. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cream, one-fourth cup sugar and vanilla seeds. Bring the cream just to a simmer, being careful that it does boil.

4. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining sugar with the egg yolks. Slowly add the hot cream mixture to the yolks, whisking constantly, to temper. Whisk in the pistachio compound to taste; depending on the intensity of the nuts, you might not use all of the paste (we tested with all of the paste).

5. Strain the base to remove any lumps, then divide it among 6 (4-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins in a baking pan and slide the pan onto the center rack of the oven. Add enough boiling water to the pan to come halfway up the ramekins.

6. Loosely cover the pan with foil and bake the custards for 18 minutes. Check the custard by gently shaking the pan; if it jiggles gently (as with barely set gelatin), it is set. Otherwise, continue to bake, checking every 2 to 3 minutes until the custards are set, 5 to 10 minutes or more.

7. When the custards are set, gently remove the baking pan from the oven, uncover the custards and cool them (still in the pan) to room temperature. Remove the cooled custards from the baking pan and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.

8. Before serving, remove the chilled custards and sprinkle a scant teaspoon of sugar over the surface of each, spreading the sugar with the back of a spoon to evenly cover the top.

9. Use a small torch to caramelize the tops of each of the custards. Alternatively, place the ramekins on a baking sheet and place under the broiler just until the sugar melts and caramelizes, 1 to 2 minutes.


Calories 426

Protein 5 grams

Carbohydrates 21 grams

Fiber 1 gram

Fat 37 grams

Saturated fat 20 grams

Cholesterol 263 mg

Sugar 17 grams

Sodium 37 mg

NOTE: Adapted from Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara.


Total time: 1 hour, plus chilling time

Servings: 8 to 12

Note: Adapted from Cayenne Cafe on Beverly Boulevard

Lemon custard

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

3 eggs

Juice of 3 lemons

1 1/2 cups milk

1 tablespoon dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together the flour, sugar, lemon zest and eggs. Whisk in the lemon juice, then the milk. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens (it should coat the back of the spoon). Remove from heat and strain into a bowl set over a bowl of ice water. Stir until cool, then stir in the rum and vanilla. This makes a generous 2 cups of custard. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Ladyfinger syrup

3 cups water

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons rum

In a large saucepan, combine the water and sugar over high heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Cool completely.

Whipped cream with mascarpone

1 pint whipping cream

4 ounces mascarpone

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whip together the cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla until firm. This makes 4 cups whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Tiramisu assembly

1 1/2 packages ladyfingers (about 3 dozen)

Ladyfinger syrup

Lemon custard

Whipped cream with mascarpone

Chocolate sauce, if desired, for garnish

1. Assemble the first layer of ladyfingers: Dip ladyfingers in syrup, one at a time, and place in a single layer on the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish (or 10-by-8-inch dish). Cover the layer with half the custard.

2. Repeat with a second layer of ladyfingers, then top with the remaining custard.

3. Form a third and final layer of ladyfingers, then smooth over half of the whipped cream with mascarpone.

4. Refrigerate the tiramisu overnight to allow the flavors to be absorbed and marry. Serve each slice with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a dollop of the flavored whipped cream, if desired.

Each of 12 servings: 414 calories; 8 grams protein; 41 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 24 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 189 mg cholesterol; 19 grams sugar; 100 mg sodium.


Total time: About 1 1/2 hours

Servings: 12 to 16

Note: Adapted from Bread & Cie


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups (6.4 ounces) flour

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add the flour and mix well.

3. Place the mixture in a parchment-lined 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan, pressing the mixture firmly onto the base of the pan to form a packed, even layer.

4. Bake the crust until lightly golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside until cool.

Filling and assembly

2 cups light brown sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 eggs

1/3 cup (1.4 ounces) flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

2 cups pecan pieces

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar, vanilla and eggs well. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the flour mixture with the egg mixture until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the coconut and pecan pieces.

4. Pour the filling over the cooled crust, spreading evenly with a spatula. Bake until set, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool before cutting and serving.

Each of 16 servings: 451 calories; 5 grams protein; 52 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 26 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 76 mg. cholesterol; 38 grams sugar; 136 mg. sodium.