Desserts are easy and cheap. Whipped mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese + honey) with mixed berries and simple syrup is easy. Something that looks fancy? Get puff pastry sheets from the dairy/freezer section in kroger. Cut them into triangles. Fill them with a cream cheese, vanilla, and berry mixture, and bake for 5 or 6 minutes until golden (but not cooked all the way!!). Drizzle caramel and eagle brand condensed milk and you're good to go.
For ten people? 1 pack of puff pastries, 1 pack blueberries, strawberries, rasps, and blackberries (or just pick 2 of them), oh and maybe a banana! Get one thing of mascarpone (8 oz should do, almost an ounce per pastry. Just a note puff pastries are sweet and flaky and have been rolled and kneaded like 8 times, it's really ridiculous. Let the mascarpone get soft and whisk it to aerate it and get it fluffy.
Take 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water in a pot and boil it. Reduce it by 1/2, when it cools it will thicken, toss the berries in the simple syrup.
Be sure to par bake the pastries about 5 minutes and pull them out so you can see what you're working with. 1 can of eagle brand is plenty, and if you have brown sugar you can make your own syrup, even though it will already be sweet enough with the mascarpone and simple syrup. After they're made, cook them for a few more minutes to get them hot and finish cooking the puff pastry.
Not to mention the amount of butter in puff pastries is ridiculous. To make it better: top it with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream. Ice cream always make desserts better.
It really shouldn't be that expensive....2.50/ pint if you only get 2 pints...you could stretch and get 3. 5 bucks for puff pastry. 4 bucks for mascarpone. Sugar I hope you have at home (even though it's not in my kitchen). And water is free. That's..borderline 20... Get the store brand (you don't need fancy) and that will always save you a couple of bucks.
Make it good. Tell me how it is.
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