Almost nothing is off-limits when I bake. I let my mind go in many places and see where it lands. Often, it’s in the freezer.
During the holidays, cakes have always been part of our Southern Yuletide tradition. Coconut, caramel and red velvet cakes grace sideboards, alongside buttery pound cakes and loaves of spicy gingerbread. The Southern sweet tooth is a force of nature! These festive layer cakes are grand, over-the-top creations, sweet and sensational, with bonus points awarded for stature. From the coconut cake’s snow-white icing spiked with coconut to the boozy, cherry-studded fruitcake, there’s no lack of theater on display. A layer cake waiting on a sideboard under a glass dome is both celebration and welcome. A layer cake defines Southern hospitality. Read more
For those of you not familiar with pecan tassies, they are bite-size pecan pies. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, they are perfect for holiday festivities and easy to prepare. We always have these on our Thanksgiving table. The pecans are freshly harvested and at their peak so they taste fantastic. And, after a big meal of turkey and dressing, one or two of these diminutive desserts are the perfect way to end the feast. A “tassie” is defined as a small cup, and these petite pies are baked in a mini-muffin tin. Pecan tassies feature the flavors and textures of pecan pie — tender and buttery crust, crunchy pecans and brown-sugar filling — all in one delicious bite.
In my family, fall means a trip to the mountains for apple picking and apple cider. We love buying a variety of different kinds of apples — some to refrigerate and keep for eating, some to make jelly, and always, always a couple of pounds of cooking apples for apple pie and crisp. While I adore apple pie, I have to admit that an apple crisp is so simple and easy that it’s my go-to apple dessert. There’s no pastry to make and no dough to roll out, and with a little pep in your prep you can have dessert in under an hour.
Crisps, along with their culinary cousins — crumbles, grunts, brown betties and pandowdies — are all simple, old-fashioned, homey desserts. The desserts in this genre use a streusel-like mixture of flour or breadcrumbs, sugar, warm spices and butter, along with rolled oats and nuts. I especially love to use fresh, in-season Georgia pecans in the fall, but almonds and walnuts are great, too. Crisps are flat-out easy, and everyone loves a piping-hot fruit dessert with a sweet, buttery topping. You can serve the crisp with ice cream, whipped cream, or even creme fraiche for an ultra-indulgent dose of down-home comfort. Read more
These treats are perfect to bring to a tailgate in the stadium parking lot or serve at home while watching the game on television. They’re easy to make and easy to eat, and you won’t have any plates to tidy up afterward.
1. Fried Pies
Ree Drummond’s grab-and-go fried pies are great for guests to enjoy dessert while watching the game. The quick pastry dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator in a zipper bag. When you’re ready to make the pies, roll out the dough as thin as you can and cut it into rectangles. Canned apple and cherry pie filling mean less prep time. Once all the rectangles are filled and sealed, drop them into hot shortening and in just five minutes your pies will be fried to golden-brown perfection.
With the backyard barbecues, shoeless picnics and pool parties of the Labor Day long weekend comes the realization that summer is, all of a sudden, coming to a close. Soon enough, we’ll be trading sandals for socks, summer camp for school and iced coffee for the hot stuff. Rather than wallowing in the end-of-summer blues, think of it as an excuse to end the season on a sweet note with Food Network’s collection of Labor Day desserts.
While we’re still hauling blueberries home by the crateful, spare two cups for Food Network Magazine’s Blueberry Cheesecake Galette (bottom right). Coupled with a smooth, slightly sweet cream cheese layer, juicier-than-ever berries burst open with pent-up lusciousness when they’re popped into the oven.
You would never guess that these marbled brownies combine two decadent treats, lightened up. The cheesecake layer is made with reduced-fat cream cheese while low-fat buttermilk keeps the brownie base moist and fudgy. You’ll quickly see why these brownies are this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week.
For more dessert recipe inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Bake board on Pinterest.
Get the Recipe: Cheesecake Brownies
Amid getting meats prepped for the grill and making sure cold cocktails are readily available, the last thing you want to worry about while entertaining in the summer is a big, fancy dessert. And to be honest, after all those cocktails, no one is going to fully appreciate that spun-sugar garnish you spent three hours on anyway. So keep things simple. And nothing is simpler than a sweet treat you can make ahead of time and pop in the freezer until it’s time to serve. These recipes utilize bold flavors that hold up well in the icebox, so you and your guests can indulge while keeping cool.
Frozen Key Lime Pie
Ah, what a classic. Summer is the peak of lime season, so this is a great way to showcase the freshest citrus of the year. A graham cracker crust is the perfect bed for the creamy lime filling, adding a bit of sweetness to balance all of the flavors. It takes just 25 minutes to prep and bake, then pop it in the freezer overnight. Plus, think about how much easier it is to divvy up and serve a pie that’s frozen rather than falling all over the place.
If you’re tired of the standard chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, this book’s for you. Desserts can be a wonderful way to experiment in the kitchen, from trying flavors like coconut and pineapple to creating cakes that look like mounds of cheese or even a burger with french fries. For those ready to take the plunge into creating the most luxurious delicacies, look no further than this new cookbook by the editors of Food Network Magazine, Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy and More.
From exotic twists on old classics with recipes like Mini Bacon Cheesecakes and Poppy Seed Tortes to fruity favorites like Apple-Walnut Galette and Orange-Cream Pops, there are recipes for every mood and age group. Kids will love the Fake-Out Cakes section of the book, which involves cakes shaped like popcorn and lobster rolls, while adults will devour the grown-up flavors of the Chocolate and Olive Oil Fig Cake as well as the Hazelnut Dacquoise. With step-by-step instructions and full-page color photographs to make sure you’re on the right track, Sweet demystifies dessert and makes sure you’re doing it right.
You can buy a copy of Sweet here, or you can enter to win one for free from FN Dish. We’re giving five lucky, randomly selected readers each a copy of Sweet, and all you have to do to enter to win one is leave a comment below telling us your favorite dessert recipe (you must include the recipe URL in your comment to be entered to win — find dessert recipes here).
These quick and easy treats use a few store-bought ingredients to save you time in the kitchen. From frozen pie crusts to instant pudding and more helpful shortcuts, supermarket staples mean you can have a gourmet dessert any night of the week.