When it comes to dessert, you can't go wrong with the basics, whether that's vanilla ice cream or simple chocolate chip cookies. But if you have the time and the baking chops, why not try your hand at some next-level treats? The reward is that much sweeter.
To get you started, we've rounded up our best easy desserts and classic desserts, as well as our favorite riffs, mashups, and upgrades on each one. From chocolate chip cookies with a whole lot of chunk (from the Dorie Greenspan's Dorie's Cookies, no less) to Thomas Keller's ultimate coconut layer cake recipe, here are 7 ways to step up your dessert game today.
There are chopped salted cashews in the mix; winey, sweet-tart dried cherries; chopped milk chocolate; and both chopped and melted bitter-sweet chocolate. You need a lot of chocolate—more than a pound!—and every penny that you put into buying great chocolate for these will come back to you in oohs, aahs and culinary contentment. There's no question that Chunkers are one of the world's great cookies. Get the recipe for Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Chunker Cookies »
Thick Italian meringue is sandwiched between moist layers of cake, which is topped off with sweetened shredded coconut in this recipe from chef Thomas Keller. Get the recipe for Thomas Keller's Coconut Cake »
A sprinkle of bittersweet caramel brittle adds a welcome crunch to this perennial favorite, made even more special with a homemade graham cracker crust. Get the recipe for Pumpkin Pie with Graham Cracker Crust and Pepita-Sage Brittle »
Compared to American and French ice creams, Italian-style gelato is made with less cream. Surprisingly, this translates to a denser, richer texture, since cream traps more air bubbles than milk when churned. Gelato also melts faster on the tongue, and the neutral base intensifies added flavors—in this case, pistachio. For a deliriously good pistachio gelato, you need deliriously good—and accordingly expensive—pistachio paste. Agrimontana's Sicilian paste is a dark, fragrant, and almost juicy expression of the queen of nuts, made with nothing more than pistachios and added pistachio oil for a silky texture. Get the recipe for Pistachio Gelato »
Sweetened condensed milk, rice, vanilla, and cinnamon combine for this frozen take on rice pudding. Get the recipe for Rice Pudding Ice Pops »
With three colorful layers of ice cream domed atop a fudgy, flourless chocolate cake, our version of this retro dessert is a project perfect for celebrations. You can vary the assembly as you like—layering the ice cream in any pattern or thickness, or flambéing the meringue topping or not. Get the recipe for Baked Alaska »
This classic Norman dessert showcases some of the best products of the region: apples, calvados, and milk. Top with a dollop of crème fraîche, if you like. Get the recipe for Caramelized Apple Omelet (Omelette Sucrée à la Normande) »