You want an easy dessert, but you also want one that tastes good? No problem. But you also want it to look impressive? We can help there too. These easy dessert recipes look beautiful and taste fantastic, and we promise you can pull them off, whatever your skills.
Sometimes, after all, the most successful dessert isn’t the one you devoted all day to, but the one you made in 30 minutes using five ingredients. Complexity isn’t always the result of time and elbow grease—it can also be a matter of leaving well enough alone. Here are 11 examples, with some smart shortcuts thrown in for good measure.
We came up with this recipe to make the best of imperfect strawberries: vanilla-scented pavlovas, topped with a lovely compote of firm, tangy strawberries and peeled, chopped blood oranges. A bit of balsamic vinegar deepens the color and adds complex sweetness. Get our Strawberry-Blood Orange Pavlovas recipe.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer, $299.99+ at Sur La Table
A stand mixer is ideal for whipping the egg whites.
Another way to sweeten strawberries (though this one still tastes best when they’re in season): macerate them with some sugar, then serve with this simple three-ingredient Champagne jelly for a light and elegant bite. Get the Champagne Gelee with Strawberries recipe.
Textbook easy: Just melt chocolate and cream together and stir in a pat of butter for a smoother texture. Serve with store-bought pound cake, fresh fruit, or biscotti. The key to dressing this one up for company (say, for Valentine’s Day dinner…) is to arrange an attractive variety of dippers on a platter by the fondue pot. Get our Chocolate Fondue recipe.
Related Reading: 11 Unexpected Things to Dip in Chocolate Fondue
Baking brownies from scratch hardly makes these layered delights any more difficult, but there’s nothing wrong with using some from your favorite bakery either. Pair them with whatever flavor ice cream you prefer, and mix up the other elements of fillings and toppings however you like. But don’t skip the whipped cream. Get our Brownie Ice Cream Parfaits recipe.
This easier alternative to pie takes a free-form approach when it comes to folding the dough around the filling (which is simply chopped apples sauteed with sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cinnamon), and it’s even easier if you use store-bought pie dough—though making your own isn’t as hard as you think. While it bakes, you cook the leftover fruit juices and stir in some brandy to glaze the finished dessert. Get our Spiked Apple Galette recipe.
Don’t let the number of total ingredients put you off—most of them are just chucked into the food processor and blended into a velvety, vegan chocolate mousse. Then you whip up some coconut cream to top it off, and add bright, fresh berries for a razzle-dazzle finish. Get the Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Coconut Cream recipe.
6. Cake Pops
Part lollipop, part cupcake, these are a great way to use up leftover cake scraps and frosting. Mix into a soft dough and mold into balls. Place on sticks, dip into an easy-to-make candy coating, and cover in sugar. Get our Cake Pops recipe.
Just brush fresh figs with a mixture of honey and fragrant orange blossom water and grill until caramelized (alternatively, broil them in your oven). Arrange over store-bought ice cream and sprinkle with toasted pistachios and a drizzle of additional honey. Get our Grilled Fig and Orange Blossom Sundaes recipe.
Bushwick Kitchen Bees Knees Salted Honey, $14.24 on Amazon
Salted honey adds an extra pop of flavor.
The secret to this easy (some would say cheater’s) fudge is condensed milk. It means no need to get a candy thermometer involved, but the bittersweet chocolate and espresso powder help temper the sugar. The flaky salt on top lends simple drama in the looks and taste departments. Get our Easy Mocha Fudge recipe.
Stale bread gets a sweet new life (and a fancy name) by toasting it in a butter-sugar mixture. Then toss it with some juicy raspberries in this twist on a traditional bread salad. If berries aren’t in season, try lightly roasting or sauteing apples or pears with cinnamon and sugar and a little vanilla before tossing them with the bread, but be warned—the results won’t look quite as striking without those ruby juices. Get our Sweet Panzanella recipe.
If you have a couple pieces of special equipment (namely, a stand mixer and a kitchen torch), this truly is easy, though you’d never guess to look at it. It’s mostly a matter of assembly since you’re using store-bought pound cake and sorbet (or ice cream). And the recipe is portioned to make enough for two, but you can scale up to make as many individual desserts as you need. Get our Easy Baked Alaska recipe.
Tintec Culinary Blow Torch, $12.98 on Amazon
This refillable butane torch gives you more even results than the broiler.
11. Drunken Prunes
Just stew dried plums in port and red wine and serve on a pastry chef-worthy billow of mascarpone, heavy cream, whipped cream, ricotta cheese, crème fraîche, or ice cream—and feel free to add store-bought pound cake, lady fingers, or shortbread on the side to soak up all those juices. Get our Drunken Prunes recipe.
Header image by Chowhound.