We all know that the pride and joy of Northwestern University is our famous hot cookie bar. Sure, these ooey, gooey, freshly-baked morsels are gifts sent from a higher being, but let's be real; there are more delicious desserts out there, available daily. So, when you're craving something sugary on a Tuesday, here are some dining hall dessert hacks that I've personally fool-proofed and approved.
Root Beer Float
Grab a glass and fill with root beer until it's 3/4 to the brim. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream (no, you can't use the soft-serve machine—you won't get the right consistency), being careful not to spill and mess up your creation. If you're feeling extra saucy, add some whipped cream on top and enjoy.
Hot Cookie Waffle
You're not officially a Northwestern student until you've gone to Lisa's at an ungodly hour just to get one of their addictive hot cookie waffles. These crispy treats—available in both original batter and chocolate—are topped with ice cream, caramel and chocolate. Sure, they're exquisite, but they cost a meal equivalency.
When I'm dying for one but have run out of meal equivalencies, I just make one during late night at Plex or Sargent.
You can customize yours as you please. Try adding cereal mix into the batter (Cinnamon Toast Crunch is my personal favorite), or you can just use the batter as is. The hardest part about this is flipping the waffle maker and waiting 2 minutes and 30 seconds for your waffle to cook all the way through.
Once it's done, though, the fun begins. Just pull it out and top with ice cream, sprinkles, chocolate chips, peanut butter or Nutella. Or all of the above. I won't judge.
One of my favorite pastries served here (and trust me, I've tried them all) are the blondies. If you don't know what blondies are, you haven't lived. They're basically brownies except without cocoa powder; envision the world's best sugar cookie in the shape of a bar. They're great as is, but to amp them up even more, warm them up in the microwave for 15 seconds and slather on a generous serving of Nutella. Simple but satisfying.
The dining halls sporadically bring out fruit cobbler, and each and every time, I feel obligated to eat it. Why? Because the buttery biscuit top and fresh fruit, microwaved and then topped with ice cream, is reminiscent of childhood and warm weather. You won't want to stop at just one, that's for sure. The next time you see cobbler—especially blueberry—give this a try.
For those of you who are your their hardest to avoid the freshman 15 (which I should get on), this hack is for you. Grab a glass and layer fruit, granola, and yogurt to the top (you can use Greek, strawberry, or blueberry—whichever is available/your preference). This is not only the most Instagram-worthy hack, but it also won't mess with your blood sugar levels. You get the best of both worlds: a sweet treat, all without sacrificing any of the taste.
I'll be real with you: I'm not a coffee person. I prefer tea. However, even I know well enough that the coffee in these dining halls is deplorable at best. But I've got you covered. To make it suck just a little less, add a little bit of hot cocoa mix into your cup before pouring yourself some coffee. Sure, you won't feel as energized as merely drinking black coffee, but at least you'll enjoy downing it more.
Hot Cookie Bar on non-Fridays
I know I said this article was about dessert hacks in the dining halls that don't involve the hot cookie bar, but the hot cookie bar is glorious, and some days you just really want some cookies and ice cream. Don't just eat them as is; play the system so you can get a little taste of the hot cookie bar. What you do is grab a cookie or two (or five) and stick them in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. They'll come out warm, soft, and delectable. Then, put your ice cream of choice and dig in. You won't even miss the hot cookie bar, since you have one at your fingertips whenever you'd like.
I hope that this sparked your creativity and gave you some more inspiration whenever the dining hall gets a little monotonous. Now, go out there and try out a few of these desserts, and maybe invent a couple of your own to share!