Easy desserts for students to whip up this holiday season

Recreation of “Freedom From Want,” a famous painting by Norman Rockwell.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and though your stomachs may already be full, who can say no to more dessert? Read on for three easy, delicious recipes that you can share with your friends and family this year.

Classic Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake is delicate and moist due to the boiling water that must be added just prior to popping the mixture in the oven. In addition to stealing the show at Thanksgiving, this cake is perfect for birthdays as well. 

Cake Ingredients:

2 cups of sugar

1 ¾ cup flour

¾ cup cocoa 

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda 

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk 

½ cup vegetable oil 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup of boiling water

Frosting Ingredients*

¼ cup butter, melted

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

⅓ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar

*Frosting recipe credit goes to Tia the Baker via allrecipes.com

Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch baking pans—personally, I prefer a bundt cake pan.

  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

  3. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and stir vigorously for 2 minutes.

  4. Stir in boiling water.

  5. Pour into pan(s).

  6. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes.

  7. Frost as desired.

Frosting Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and cocoa together until combined. 

  2. Add milk and vanilla; beat until smooth.

  3.  Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Adjust with more milk or confectioners' sugar if necessary.

Grandma’s Gingersnap Cookies

Though these are not my grandma’s gingersnap cookies, I got this recipe from allrecipes.com so long ago that it’s almost as if I’d gotten the recipe from my family. These easy-to-make cookies are sure to be a crowd pleaser at any holiday—just go easy on the molasses. 


2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)

¾ cup shortening or butter

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

¼ cup dark molasses

⅓ cup cinnamon sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Sift the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture to blend evenly, and sift a second time into another bowl.

  3. Place the shortening/butter into a mixing bowl and beat until creamy. If you don’t have a mixer and are using butter, you can place it in the microwave for roughly 45 seconds. Gradually beat in the white sugar.  Beat in the egg and dark molasses.

  4. Sift ⅓ of the flour mixture into the shortening/butter mixture; stir to thoroughly blend. Sift in the remaining flour mixture, and mix together until a soft dough forms.

  5. Pinch off small amounts of dough and roll into 1 inch diameter balls between your hands. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar, and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

  6. Bake in preheated oven until the tops are rounded and slightly cracked, or about 10 minutes.

  7. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

*Recipe credit goes to Marie Ayers.

Grasshopper Pie

And lastly, my favorite—the bright green frozen treat known as grasshopper pie. This pie is basically mint chocolate chip ice cream with an Oreo crust, but it takes a bit more finesse to whip up than that. An added bonus for this treat: you can tell your younger relatives or friends that this pie is made with actual grasshoppers, and if they’re anything like me, they’ll believe you for a bit.


1 box of chocolate wafer cookies (Nabisco)

½ stick of butter

½ cup of half and half 

24 marshmallows

½ pint of whipping cream

1 ⅓ ounce of creme de menthe*

1 ⅓ ounce creme de cacao*

*Must be 21 or older to purchase this ingredient 



  1. Crush wafer cookies, combine with melted butter.

  2. Pour cookie and butter mixture into pie plate to form pie crust. Place in freezer until filling has been completed.


  1. Melt marshmallows in half and half in saucepan.

  2. Once mixture is melted, stir in creme de menthe and creme de cacao.

  3. Add whipping cream.

  4. Pour mixture into pie plate and freeze.

I hope at least one of these treats will make it into your recipe book this year. Happy Thanksgiving!

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