At first glance, this may just look like your average vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. But it’s so much more than that. I’ve enhanced the classic to make a snack cake worth talking about.
This is my very favorite gluten-free cake base. I use it all the time. I’ve made it into lovely layer cakes, Boston cream pie, perfect petit fours and every upside-down fruit cake that you can imagine. The key to its perfect tender, buttery crumb is almond flour — my secret weapon for gluten-free baking.
As you shuttle from at-work celebrations to cocktail parties and host casual family gatherings and the elegant Christmas Eve feast alike, there’s no shortage of opportunities to indulge in your favorite fare during the holidays. But perhaps the best, most-decadent dishes come not from the savory buffet, but rather from the dessert table, in the form of decadent cakes, cookies, trifles and fudge. Check out Food Network’s favorite holiday desserts below, each a wow-worthy pick sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Gingerbread and Lemon Curd Trifle with Blackberry Sauce
Bobby Flay celebrates the beloved flavor combo of gingerbread and lemon in his layered trifle, featuring a crimson-colored blackberry sauce, which he whirls in the blender for smooth results. Follow Bobby’s lead and save time in the kitchen by opting for store-bought lemon curd; it brightens up the fluffy whipped cream layers in his big-batch dessert.
Crunchy carrots may be a go-to for snacking, but this in-season root vegetable brings a whole lot more to the table when it’s brought into your baked goods. As you load up your Thanksgiving menu with carrot side dishes, don’t forget that carrots can also be grated and integrated into moist, luscious and comforting cakes. Each of these amazing carrot cakes comes with the mandatory slathering of creamy cheese frosting, as well as its own unique spin.
Make Food Network Kitchen’s decadent, three-layer Carrot Cheesecake the crowning element of your Thanksgiving dessert spread. It’s a sweet mash-up of spiced carrot cake, rich cheesecake and a smooth sour cream topping, and you can learn how to make it from start to finish here.
I’m going to make you a promise: This pumpkin cake will impress everyone who tries it. It will fill your kitchen with the sweet smell of homemade caramel sauce, the gentle and comforting spices of fall, and a warmth that cuts right through a bitterly cold wind. People often ask me for the recipe, and like a good Midwestern girl, I am happy to share!
My first encounter with Boston cream pie was in doughnut form when I was in middle school. My best friend Melissa’s family had a standing Saturday doughnut-breakfast policy. It was one of my favorite parts about sleeping over her place on Friday night. Her parents would go out early Saturday morning and bring the treats back for us. While they drank coffee, we ate doughnuts in our pajamas. I always chose Boston cream and I always wished I could eat more than one.
There is something so magical about the Boston cream combination: cool, creamy custard nestled in fluffy cake and topped with bittersweet chocolate. It’s the perfect dessert for the indecisive. Chocolate, vanilla, cake and custard all wrapped up in one. It’s a genius invention.
The pound cake is the underdog of the dessert world. It’s not flashy. It’s old-fashioned. It’s simple. But I implore you to take a closer look. If you give it a chance, the pound cake will never disappoint.
First of all, the ingredient list is short. You probably have all the ingredients to make a pound cake right now. That means that no cake craving need ever go unanswered. Second, the method is uncomplicated. It is easy to make and easy to bake. Third, a well-wrapped pound cake freezes exceptionally well. Keep a backup in your freezer at all times to thwart any cake emergency. And, most importantly, pound cake is delicious. Made with a hefty dose of real butter and fresh vanilla bean, the downy cake tastes rich, decadent and far lovelier than the sum of its parts.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of the basic cake, feel free to dress it up. Slice it into layers, reassemble it with ice cream and refreeze it for a gorgeous hot-weather treat. Layer it with fruit and custard to transform it into an elegant trifle. Top it with strawberries and whipped cream for simplified shortcake. You can even grill it to make an unexpected barbecue dessert.
There is nothing quite as magical and comforting as fall baking. The changing colors of the leaves usually means we can start using cinnamon and apples. This impressive cake is filled with those familiar flavors, and it’s simply a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty and essence of fall.
You know what drives me nuts? Bananas. Have you noticed how a whole bunch of bananas will always become ready to eat on the same day? I fight a losing battle with my bananas every week. I want to eat one every day. But it never works out that way. Inevitably I end up having to down five ripe ones in one afternoon. I’ve tried to rip apart bunches of varying ripeness and assemble the perfect hybrid bunch at the store. But I don’t think supermarkets condone that kind of behavior. And I’m a timid rule breaker.
Thankfully, the overripe banana is the baker’s best friend. Unlike wilted lettuce and mealy apples, squishy brown bananas make for fabulous baked goods. I keep them in a big plastic bag in the freezer, adding super-soft specimens weekly. They can hang out there for months, just waiting for their opportunity to shine.
Milk Bar was founded in 2008 by James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award-winner Christina Tosi; you may have heard of some of the bakery’s more popular items, like Cereal Milk ice cream, Compost Cookies and Crack Pie. With five locations in New York, one in Toronto and another opening in Washington, D.C., later this year, Milk Bar is becoming its own dessert empire. But it’s the eatery’s Birthday Cake that has won my heart and my stomach. It’s a modern take on the classic Funfetti cake, and it makes an appearance every year when it’s my birthday (and also when it’s not). The key to the moist cake layers in this towering treat? A soak of whole milk and clear vanilla extract. That’s right: It’s like a tres leches cake gone birthday bonkers, in the best way possible. We stopped by Milk Bar’s test kitchen location in Brooklyn to see how the masterpiece comes together.