What is it about things in miniature that make them so much cuter than their full-sized counterparts?
Some are obvious: soft puppies, fuzzy ducklings, etc. Some are less widely appreciated but still hard to deny as adorable: little baby snow boots, your childhood teddy bear.
But love for little things shouldn’t end with baby mammals or itsy bitsy footwear. In fact, small foods hold a well-established spot in the culinary world. To name but a few:
·         Mini Twix bars: Because I feel less guilty eating seven of these babies vs. a single King size
·         Hors d’oeuvres: The original mini-food
·         Personal Pan Pizzas: Ending topping fights the world over
·         Samples: Whether nibbling cheese cubes at the grocery store or test-driving flavors at an ice cream shop, who doesn’t enjoy a bonus bite?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken this idea of “miniature” to the kitchen. Whether you’re kid with a Happy Meal or a foodie with an individual crème brûlée, having a dish all to one’s self can be a sweet pleasure.  Thanks to the invention of ramekins, single serving dishes are easy to make and many larger recipes can be easily adapted to use them (bonus: smaller dish = shorter baking time). Three of my favorites so far are Molten Chocolate with Red Wine Cherry Sauce, Baked Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal, and Rhubarb Crisp.
Note: my ramekins are 7 oz. each, but you can adjust your baking times to suit whatever size you have on hand.
Molten Chocolate Cake
with Red Wine Cherry Sauce

My personal happy meal: a lava flow of chocolate-cherry decadence. 
Took inspiration from a few Clean Eating blogs for the cake portion. The cherry sauce was an experimental success. I’m so addicted, I bought a cherry pitter for future batches.

Makes 2-4 servings, depending on how batter is divided. Recipe will make four 4 oz. servings, but I thought this was way too small, so I split between three 7 oz. ramekins.
·         1/3 c. honey
·         3 T. unsweetened applesauce
·         2 T. olive oil
·         2 large egg whites
·         2 tsp. vanilla extract
·         ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose works as a substitute)
·         ¼ c. cocoa powder
·         1/8 tsp. salt
Makes 1 cup topping
  • ½ lb. cherries, stemmed and pitted (fresh is best, but frozen works well also. Just thaw and pat dry before use)
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • ½ c. + 3 T. red wine, divided
  • 1 T. corn starch
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp. triple sec. (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat honey, applesauce, olive oil, egg whites, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Sift together cocoa powder and flour. Mix into wet ingredients until batter is as smooth as possible.
  4. Coat ramekins (2 to 4 depending on your serving size) with non-stick spray. Divide batter evenly between them. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes*. Invert onto plate and serve immediately.
 *Note about baking time: Once the sides are fairly set, you can invert the cake onto a plate to check the level of doneness. If the middle is too gooey for your taste, simply flip back into the ramekins and bake for a few more minutes. Don’t overdue it though—you don’t want to lose the signature gooey middle.
  1. Place the cherries and sugar in a wide sauce pan.
  2. Mix 2 T. of the red wine with the cornstarch in a small bowl until dissolved. Set aside.
  3. Add remaining wine to the sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low boil and cook, stirring frequently until the cherries are wilted and soft, approximately 14 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and let the mixture boil another minute or so, until more thickened.
  5. Remove from heat. Add almond extra and triple sec (if using).
  6. Spoon onto cake and enjoy!

Topping Tip: Any leftovers keep well in the fridge and taste wonderful on chocolate ice cream.

Baked Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal
with honey cream frosting
Oatmeal need never be boring again.

Thank you to one of my favorite dessert queens, Chocolate Covered Katie, for inspiring this recipe. Below is my version.
makes one serving
  • 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. applesauce or 1/2 mashed ripe banana (I’ve used both. Tip: one mini cup of applesauce equals a ¼ cup)
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 T chopped pecans or walnuts (toasted if you have time)
  • Brown sugar for top (optional)
  • A few tablespoons plain yogurt (I used Greek)
  • A few tablespoons whipped topping
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. honey
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Coat ramekin with cooking spray
  3. Combine oats, cinnamon, sugar, and salt
  4. In a separate bowl, combine milk, applesauce (or banana) and vanilla extract
  5. Add wet ingredients to the dry
  6. Pour in baking dish. Top with nuts and brown sugar
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm
  8. Remove from pan and turn so nuts are on top
  1. Mix up all the ingredients
  2. Top oatmeal and enjoy!
Rhubarb Crisp
For the rhubarb shy: it has a delicious, tart flavor that pairs perfectly with the brown sugar oatmeal topping. 
A treat for you + a friend. Or just you. All that’s missing is ice cream.

Recipe adapted from trusted baking and entertaining diva, Marta Stewart
Makes four 6 oz. crisps
  • 1 lb. rhubarb, sliced crosswise 3/4 inch thick
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. + 2T. all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 c. packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together rhubarb, sugar, and 2T flour. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, combine remaining flour and the butter. Pulse until the butter pieces are pea-size. Add brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon. Pulse to combine. Alternately, if you don’t have a food processor: Cut butter into flour until butter is pea-sized, then add dry ingredients.
  4. Grease four ramekins and divide rhubarb mixture evenly between them. Sprinkle oat topping over rhubarb. Place ramekins on cookie sheet. Bake until rhubarb is tender and topping is golden, 25 to 35 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream, if desired.

A topping ALMOST too good to bake. Resist the urge to gobble all first. The wait is worth it.

Don’t let the green hue fool you. Once baked, tart rhubarb tastes like a yummy fruit.