10 Soothing Baking Recipes That'll Quell Your Stress—and Your Sweet-Tooth
When the cortisol kicks into overdrive and my anxiety is at a fever pitch, there's one place I can always rely on to calm my nerves: the kitchen. Baking recipes are methodical, reliable, and routine. When nothing else seems to work, flour thickens, egg whites whip, and dough rises.
My personal outlet for quelling extreme exhaustion and overload is a little thing I like to call Stress Baking. There's just something about melting butter that helps focus my mind, and nothing beats an existential crisis like a bowl of royal icing asking to be piped on with precision. Typically, by the time I've preheated the oven, the only thing causing my heart to race is the whipping cream I just beat into oblivion.
Whatever state you're in right now (geographically; emotionally) we're willing to bet you could use a little R&R. These baking projects will soothe your mind and spirit and give you a much-needed creative outlet—not to mention a deliciously distracting dessert.
Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
Don’t be intimidated by that pretty swirl: all it takes is a toothpick or a narrow paring knife to marble the pumpkin and chocolate batters together. We're biased, but we think this is the best way you can put that extra can of pumpkin you've been hoarding since Thanksgiving to work.
Get the recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream
Just because it doesn't go in the oven doesn't make it a viable option for stress baking: homemade ice cream is the beautiful dessert diversion you never knew you needed. Here, you'll combine melted chocolate with oil to keep the ice cream soft and pliable even after it has frozen. Nilla wafers make the perfect substitute for sponge cake as they soften in the ice cream over time.
Get the recipe: Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream
Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
This decadent cake recipe is just the thing if you're looking for a low-lift baking project. You'll mix all your base ingredients and bake them before topping it with cake batter and a generous portion of grated butter. The result? A custard-y, barely-baked combination of pumpkin and melted dark chocolate.
Get the recipe: Dark Chocolate-Pumpkin Dump Cake
Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes
We're willing to bet you have a jar of peanut butter in the pantry right now—why not give it some much-deserved attention? At first glance these pretty cupcakes look like any other, but when you bite in you'll fine a delicious treat in the center. Simple vanilla cupcakes are classic, but feel free to swap them for chocolate if you prefer.
Get the recipe: Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes
Butternut Blondies With Maple Walnuts
Sweet winter squash gives these easy blondies a healthy twist. They're the perfect way to use up that maple syrup you've been hanging on to. This dessert travels well, too, so you can bring your neighbor a batch.
Get the recipe: Butternut Blondies With Maple Walnuts
Caramel Plum Galette
Thanks to a filling that's made from fresh plums and a sweet anise-scented caramel sauce, this free-form pie couldn’t be simpler or more delicious. If you're up for a challenge, try your hand at making (and rolling out) the crust from scratch; if you're pressed for time, just sub in a store-bought pie crust.
Get the recipe: Caramel Plum Galette
Snickers Brownie Cake
This dense, fudgy chocolate cake needs no embellishment, but adding chopped Snickers bars take it to another level. (No Snickers? Use whatever candy you've got on hand.) Adding a shower of cocoa powder on top at the end gives the dessert an elegant look and an even richer chocolate flavor. If it’s true decadence you’re after, serve alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Get the recipe: Snickers Brownie Cake
Skillet Cookie Cake
Pantry filled with sweets and not sure how to put them to work? We've got you. This cookie cake is deliciously forgiving, which is to say, you can mix in any type of chocolate, caramel, nut, or confection your loved one likes.
Get the recipe: Skillet Cookie Cake
Pecan Pie Ice Cream
Pecans wrapped in caramelized sugar add a wonderful crunch to this boozy brown sugar ice cream. The recipe makes about one and a half cups of the pecan praline, but it’s so tasty you might want to double it. Extra praline make a great addition to your favorite cookies.
Get the recipe: Pecan Pie Ice Cream
Caramel-Cookie Cheesecake Pie
Your kids will love making this delicious twist on cheesecake—that stars chopped Twix bars—with you. Just five ingredients are all that's required to make the crunchy, creamy, chocolatey dessert, which you can bake in a pie pan (no springform pan required). Though the recipe calls for “fun” size bars, it's forgiving. You can use full-size bars, just keep in mind the total cup measurements listed in the recipe.
Get the recipe: Caramel-Cookie Cheesecake Pie