Just desserts A dinner without a sweet treat is like a story without an ending. It doesn't have to be elaborate or time-consuming; you don't need lots of ingredients or fancy equipment. What you do need is Melanie Barnard's Short ∧ Sweet: Sophisticated Desserts in No Time at All. When Ms. Barnard, a noted cookbook author and magazine columnist, was growing up, her mother baked every day. Realizing that our relentlessly busy world wouldn't allow her to follow in her mother's floury footsteps, she nevertheless vowed that lack of time wouldn't stop her from serving a homemade dessert every day. All the recipes here can be made in 30 minutes or less with no more than seven ingredients. The divine decadence of Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse with Pears or the chic glamor of Chocolate Tiramisu with Tangerines can be achieved with ease and Melanie's savvy advice, insistence on top-quality components, and tested techniques. When strawberries are wonderfully ripe, just a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar, honey, and grind of black peppercorns will produce a stunningly fresh finale. You can save hours by taking advantage of the amazing array of high-quality prepared foods available puckery sweet Dessert Margaritas, served in sugar-crusted goblets and made with purchased lime sorbet, would be ideal after one of Bobby Flay's spicy forays; a jar of lemon curd from the gourmet shelf in the supermarket blended with whipped cream and fresh blueberries will produce luscious Lemon Blueberry Cloud; and a dazzling holiday winner can be quickly concocted from coffee ice cream, bottled marrons glaces, a little cognac, and a dusting of cocoa. Crisps, cobblers, cakes, cookies, and candy, too, take well to Melanie's melange of innovations, so even if there are not enough hours in the day, you need never go dessertless again.

Sybil Pratt is an avid cook.

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