Easy and Delicious Single-Pan Desserts

pumpkin cheesecake swirl blondies
Photo: Kathy Strahs
Three ooey, gooey and delightful desserts without any hassle.

Never skip making a dessert out of worry for time and effort again. You can easily make a yummy dessert with these recipes for single-pan desserts. Easy cooking, easy clean up, and warm, gooey goodness to enjoy.

Dreamy Caramel Bars

Dreamy indeed! Packed with delicious nutty flavors and of course, creamy caramel, these little squares will melt your heart.

What You'll Need:

Makes 9 servings

Caramel

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch coarse salt

Crust

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt

Filling

  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped


Directions:

Step 1: Heat the oven to 350° F.

Step 2: Line an 8x8-inch metal baking pan with parchment.

Step 3: To make the caramel, heat the sugar in a medium-sized (2-quart), heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Start whisking once the sugar begins to melt. It will initially clump into tiny balls but will eventually melt evenly. When it begins to boil, stop whisking—you don't want the super-hot sugar to splash out onto you. The sugar will start to turn an amber color—swirl the pan occasionally to keep it from burning. Once all the sugar is melted, slide in the butter and whisk until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream, vanilla, and salt—the caramel will bubble up a bit! Set the pan aside.

Step 4: To make the crust, stir the butter and brown sugar together in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until they're fully combined—this may take a minute or two. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt and stir until the dough is combined.

Step 5: Transfer half of the dough to the prepared baking pan, pressing it with your fingers to create an even layer on the bottom of the pan, all the way to the edges. Bake the crust for 12 minutes—it should be cooked through and golden. Remove the pan from the oven, but keep the oven on.

Step 6: With a rubber spatula, scrape the caramel into the baking pan and spread evenly over the warm crust. Scatter the pecans and chocolate over the cara­mel. Drop pinches of the remaining crust dough all over the top.

Step 7: Bake until the crust is golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Allow the bars to cool com­pletely before cutting them.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Blondies

Pumpkin. Cheesecake. Blondies. Have three words ever sounded so beautiful together?

What You'll Need:

Makes 16 servings

Cheesecake Topping

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pumpkin Blondies

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt


Directions:

Step 1: Heat the oven to 325° F.

Step 2: Line an 8x8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with parchment. Alternatively, for a metal baking pan, heat the oven to 350° F and pre­pare the pan in the same manner.

Step 3: To prepare the topping, with an electric mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside.

Step 4: To prepare the blondies, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the brown sugar until smooth. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Step 5: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.

Step 6: Pour all but about 1/2 cup of the blondie batter into the prepared dish or pan, spreading it in an even layer. Spoon on the cheesecake topping and spread it in an even layer. Spoon on the remaining blondie batter and draw a butter knife through the layers to create interesting swirls.

Step 7: Bake until the blondies are set in the middle and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Allow the blondies to cool completely before lifting them out by the parchment and cutting into squares.


Triple Chocolate Saucepan Brownies

With just the right balance of fudge and chewiness, these brownies will definitely be a hit at any gathering.

What You'll Need:

Makes 16 brownies

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts


Directions:

Step 1: Heat the oven to 325° F.

Step 2: Line an 8x8-inch glass or baking dish with parchment. Alternatively, for a metal baking pan, heat the oven to 350° F and prepare the pan in the same manner.

Step 3: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sugar and stir until well combined and shiny. Remove the pan from the heat.

Step 4: In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate in the microwave at 50% power in 30 second increments, stirring after each heating, until it's fully melted (alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a double-boiler on the stove). Pour the melted chocolate into the sugar mixture. Stir in the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Beat in each egg, one at a time. Mix in the flour, chocolate chips, and nuts until combined, reserving a small hand­ful of chips and nuts to sprinkle on top before baking.

Step 5: Spread the batter into the prepared dish or pan, and scatter the reserved chocolate chips and nuts over the top. Bake until the brownies are set in the middle, 25 to 28 minutes*. Cool completely before cutting.

* Unlike with cakes, you're not looking for the brownies to cook through completely in the middle—that will mean a dry brownie. Instead, you want it to be just set. Err on the side of gooey!


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All recipes and images from The 8x8 Cookbook: Square Meals for Weeknight Family Dinners, Desserts and More—In One Perfect 8x8-Inch Dish, by Kathy Strahs (Burnt Cheese Press, 2015). Reprinted with permission.