Dessert is the crowning glory of a meal, whether it is a simple sweet treat or an elegant arrangement, and the best ones are those that please the eye as well as the palate. Depending on the meal, these desserts may be quick and easy, individualized, or traditional favorites, but they will always be one of the best parts of the meal.
1. Apple Crostada With Brown Butter Streusel
This crostada, which is similar to a pie, is filled with delicious concoction of Granny Smith apples, baked in a vanilla-bean infused, maple syrup and brown butter sauce. The apple mixture is then laid over a pastry and topped with a delicious crumble. The finished dish has hints of maple syrup and vanilla bean and goes well with some sweet cream ice cream.
Featured as one of Food and Wine's 100 Best Recipes Ever, the recipe is relatively easy to do at home.
2. Blackberry Slump
The recipe calls for blackberries and dry white wine, giving it that tangy-rich flavor that makes a fruit dessert oh so satisfying. Pair with vanilla ice cream for a comforting treat.
3. Crack Pie
To locals in-the-know, the Momofuku Milk Bar is a staple for desserts in New York City. (The Milk Bar also has locations in Toronto.) While the owner and head chef, Christine Tosi, racks up awards for herself, including a nod from the prestigious James Beard Foundation, it's their signature Crack Pie that remains a tried and true staple of the bakery.
Noted as a best-seller, Bon Appetit shares the recipe with its readers. While it is a bit labor intensive (you have to make your own oatmeal cookie crust from scratch), it uses ingredients you probably have on hand to make a rich heavy cream and butter filling.
4. Chocolate Meringue and Mint Chip Ice Cream Cake
Refreshingly cool, this dessert makes a great choice for both the summer and holiday dessert tables. Epicurious lists it as one of the best frozen dessert recipes, and it's easy to see why.
The Chocolate Meringue and Mint Chip Ice Cream Cake features crispy light chocolate meringue layered in between softened mint-chip ice cream. The whole ensemble is topped with frothy whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
5. Butterfinger and Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
Also featured on Huffington Post's list of best dessert recipes, this bit of sweetness starts with a cookie dough crust. On top of that you layer Butterfinger bars, add some creamy cheesecake and top off with more crumbles of cookie dough. The recipe is easyto put together, and these bars will satisfy your craving for something sweet like nothing else can.
6. Cream, Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart
Salted caramel complements chocolate in a way that few other flavors can. Featured on the Huffington Post's list of 50 of the Best Dessert Recipes, this richly decadent dessert will do your diet no favors. Boasting a crust with powdered almonds, the tart is then covered with caramel sauce, chocolate cream and finally chocolate ganache. Garnished with homemade whipped cream and cocoa powder, this recipe is one to serve to guests you want to impress.
7. Quadruple Chocolate Brownies
If it's chocolate you crave, look no further than this rich brownie that features white, milk and bittersweet chunks in a brownie batter made with unsweetened chocolate. To make the flavors really pop, the finished brownie is drizzled with melted chocolate made from all three types of 'chunks' in the recipe. The combination boasts a very satisfying blend of chocolate.
Featured on Food and Wine's list of the 100 Best Recipes Ever: Desserts, the Quadruple Chocolate Brownie is sure to become a family staple.
8. Chocolate Cream Cakes
The cream-filled chocolate cakes from your childhood get a serious grown-up makeover. Featured in Country Living as one of their best dessert recipes, these little morsels of delicious self-indulgence feature an incredibly moist chocolate cake filled with vanilla cream and topped with a dark-chocolate glaze. These Chocolate Cream Cakes beg for a tall glass of milk.
9. German Chocolate Cake
What's not to love about chocolate, coconut, and pecans? Saveur features this triple-layer chocolate cake as one of the best recipes and it's easy to see why. The recipe for this cake, which features the real German chocolate for which the cake was named, gets its rich moistness in part from the addition of buttermilk to the batter.
10. Fudgy Nut Coffee Pie
For home cooks, Taste of Home is a collecting pot of easy-to-make, crowd pleasing recipes. This contest winning pie is an easy to make, frozen dessert that features alternating layers of homemade fudge sauce, chopped pecans, and coffee ice cream. While it requires time to freeze, the process is easy and the results are delicious.
11. Boston Cream Pie
When in Boston, do as the Bostonians do and head over to the Flour Bakery Cafe for some Boston Cream Pie. Noted by Fodor's as one of the best places for desserts in America, online foodie magazine Food 52 went straight to the source to get what they deem the Best Boston Cream Pie.
While this won't save you any time in the kitchen (all components are made, of course, from scratch), Chang's full recipe offers layers of a basic sponge cake with one side steeped in coffee syrup. In between those sponge cakes sits a tangy cream, and of course topping all of that is warm chocolate ganache. It's easy to see why this is a favorite.
12. Soft Chocolate Cake With Orange Cream
Martha Stewart is somewhat synonymous with delicious and unique dishes and this chocolate cake is soft, gooey and rich - almost like eating a thick batter rather than a cake.
The real stand-out in this recipe though is the creme anglaise that goes with the cake that balances the rich, chocolaty goodness.
The key to any great dessert is not only in choosing the right dish, but also in presenting it well. A delicate presentation accompanied by complementary sauces, a sprig of edible flowers or mint, and contrasting yet compatible colors will make the treat just as memorable as its taste. As the finishing touch to any meal, the best desserts are those that can tempt even full diners to indulge in one more delicious bite.