Into every woman’s life comes a need for a special sweet treat, something impressive you can whip up in a hurry. Like, when you suddenly learn that your in-laws are coming for tea, and they’ll be here in an hour!

You can make an emergency trip to the bakery (if there’s time, and if it’s open), or you can scrabble around in the kitchen cupboards and use what you have on hand to make an ordinary dessert a bit more fancy, or some combination of the two. Keeping just a couple of key ingredients on hand for domestic emergencies will make it that much easier.

Here are a few of our favourite sweets to put together quickly for company:

  • Drizzle a bit of coffee-flavoured liqueur over a dollop of vanilla ice cream, and top it with a few curls of dark chocolate. Or try a splash of creme-de-menthe on lime sherbet, garnished with a citrus twist.
  • Fancy up a basic spice cake (got a mix?) or some store-bought shortbread cookies with a simple caramel icing
  • Serve up a trendy Dessert Soup in goblets or small pretty bowls. Blend 1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries with 1 cup of plain yogurt, chill, and mix with 2 cups of ginger ale just before dishing it out.
  • Chunks of store-bought pound cake are made special with Venetian Cream, also known as Zabaglione — an astonishingly easy and versatile Italian custard.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a nice cheese plate!
  • Skip the dessert and serve a really good perked coffee (whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles are optional) with homemade chocolate-dipped spoons for stirring.

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