NEW CASTLE —
The sweetest person you know deserves something equally sugary on Sunday.
That would be your mother and the occasion is Mother’s Day.
A luxurious brunch and a vase full of tulips are perfectly acceptable, and so is breakfast in bed, especially when big hands help little hands and someone (not her!) cleans the kitchen.
But maybe cooking up a storm isn’t your bag and the wallet is a bit slim this year. Still, that IOU idea, just like a pile of dirty dishes, will not get you in her good graces. More like hot water.
So what to serve the day’s reigning queen?
We’ve put together 25 simple ideas for sweet somethings for Mom that run the gamut from chocolate delights to fruity concoctions. First, you need to figure out what her passion is. Does she want something healthy before a super-long run? Does chocolate help her get through the day? Maybe it’s a juicy mango or another tropical fruit that sets her heart (and taste buds) aflutter.
Make a couple of treats and present them to her on a silver platter. Or a fancy paper plate, which doesn’t need to be polished or cleaned. Leave the kitchen the way you found it ... or maybe in better shape.
It is her day, after all.
1. Sweet Tarts. Thaw a package of frozen phyllo tart shells. Fill with lemon curd (found in the jams-and-jellies aisle) and top with fresh berries.
2. Tropical Sundae. Load a tall, pretty glass alternately with pineapple chunks, chopped toasted macadamia nuts and vanilla ice cream. Top with whipped cream and toasted coconut.
3. Decadent Dip. Wash and trim ripe strawberries and offer them with a dip made of mascarpone or cream cheese mixed with honey.
4. Tiptop Topper. Pile frozen waffles with chocolate whipped cream, chocolate shavings and raspberries. Buy chocolate whipped cream or make your own by sifting 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa together on wax paper. While whipping 2 cups heavy cream, add sugar-cocoa mixture. Whip until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes.
5. Chocolate and Cherries. Mix well 2/3 cup dried cherries, 2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips and 1 tube of refrigerated sugar-cookie dough. Roll into 1-tablespoon balls; place balls about 2 inches apart on cooking sheets lined with parchment paper. This will result in flat, 2-inch cookies. Bake for about 12 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. Cool on wire racks.
6. Easy Turtles. Place 15 square, waffle pretzels on a microwavable plate. Top each with an unwrapped caramel-filled Hershey’s Kiss and zap on high for 20 seconds. Before chocolate melts, press a pecan half into caramel. Let turtles cool on racks and store in airtight container or in fridge if chocolate needs to be set.
7. Ice Cream Sandwiches. Sandwich Mom’s favorite ice cream between two of her favorite cookies. For extra points, roll sides in coconut, chopped nuts or sprinkles.
8. Haystacks. In a glass bowl, partially melt 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips in a microwave on medium heat. Stir to melt completely and add a 3-ounce can of chow-mein noodles. Stir well and drop small clusters on a baking sheet covered with wax or parchment paper. If she’s a peanut lover, add some to the chocolate/noodle mixture before shaping clusters.
9. Healthy Parfait. Layer vanilla yogurt, berries and granola in a tall, fluted glass. Top with sunflower seeds.
10. Twix Shake. Chop 1 cup of mini-Twix bars in a food processor. They are easier to chop if they are partially frozen. Add 2 cups (1 pint) vanilla ice cream and 1/2 cup chocolate syrup and process until blended. Add an additional 1/4 cup milk for a thinner shake. This makes enough for two. Maybe Mom will share.
11. Zeppoles. Fill a skillet or large saucepan with about 2 inches of vegetable oil and heat to medium or 350 degrees. Cut refrigerated biscuits into quarters, form into little balls and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and toss with cinnamon sugar or confectioners’ sugar while warm.
12. Indian Refreshment. Make her a flavorful Mango Lassi by placing 1 cup plain yogurt, 1 cup chopped mango, 1/2 cup milk and 4 teaspoons sugar in a blender. Process until smooth. Pour into two short glasses. Sprinkle with ground cardamom to garnish.
13. Mocha on Muffins. Schmear homemade mocha spread on store-bought banana muffins. To make the spread, combine 4 ounces cream cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon instant-coffee granules, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips in a food processor or blender. Process until well-blended. Refrigerate until ready to use, but the mixture will be easier to spread if it’s near room temperature.
14. Mini Cream Pies. Fill individual-size graham-cracker crusts with chocolate pudding and top with whipped cream. Garnish with mini chocolate chips.
15. Little Dippers. Cube a store-bought pound cake and put cubes on a platter with fresh fruit, a bowl of chocolate sauce and skewers for dipping.
16. Milk and Cookies. Substitute Nutella for chocolate sauce for a rich chocolate milk. Whip it with a wire whisk to create a froth and serve it in a cold glass with a pretty straw and butter cookies. (Pepperidge Farm makes good ones.)
17. Sparkling Sorbet. Put a scoop of lemon sorbet in a champagne flute, fill it with a fizzy white wine such as champagne. Add a few raspberries.
18. Chocolate-Mint Ice-Cream Pie. Fill a prepared chocolate-cookie-crumb crust with about 6 cups of softened mint-chocolate-chip ice cream. Freeze. Drizzle with store-bought chocolate or fudge sauce when serving.
19. Agua Fresca. Puree 1 large cantaloupe or half a seedless watermelon and strain through a fine sieve to eliminate pulp. In a pitcher, mix strained fruit puree with 1-1/2 cups water. Mix in 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar, or to taste, and the juice of 2 to 3 limes. For an adult drink, add some dark rum.
20. Mini Trifles. Soak small cubes of pound cake in a little dry sherry for several minutes. Put a few pieces in an espresso or demitasse cup, top with a teaspoon of prepared vanilla pudding and a few pieces of berries (cut up if large). Repeat layers and top with whipped cream.
21. Little Eton Messes. Sprinkle cut-up strawberries with a little sugar to release juices. Crumble a bag of meringue kisses into 1 cup whipped cream, leaving good chunks. Fold in half of the strawberries and put mixture into wine glasses or small Mason jars. Top with remaining strawberries.
22. Sweet and Savory. Top hot buttermilk pancakes with goat cheese mixed with strawberry jam or fig preserves.
23. Simply Blue. Mix blueberries with softened vanilla ice cream and top with orange-blossom or Tupelo honey. Garnish with a mint sprig.
24. Apple Turnovers. Partially thaw a sheet of frozen puff pastry on lightly floured board. Cut into nine squares. Put a tablespoon of canned apple-pie filling in the center of each square. Brush edges with a beaten egg and fold into a triangle. Brush tops with more egg. Bake in 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden.
25. Sweet but Sugar-Free. Make Sugar-Free Blackberry Twist Lemonade by combining 2 cups fresh blackberries, or unsweetened frozen blackberries thawed, 1 cup fresh lemon juice and 1 cup Splenda in a blender. Process until smooth. Scrape down sides. Press mixture through a sieve into a pitcher and discard the solids. Stir in 4 cups water. Serve over ice.
(Tampa Bay Times food and travel editor Janet K. Keeler can be reached at email@example.com.)