End your meal on a sweet note with one of these make-ahead desserts.
Make-Ahead Time: 3.5 hours to 2 days
These spicy-sweet treats are perfect for serving in individual portions. The Kahlúa and espresso powder add a bit of java buzz, and the cayenne powder spices up the rich chocolate. Allow at least three hours for the pots to chill, but this decadent dessert can be made even farther in advance if necessary.
Make-Ahead Time: Up to 2 days
Treat your guests to a creamy cheesecake that is both delicious and low in fat. The gingersnap crust and lemon-flavored filling round out any meal with smiles. Plus, like all cheesecakes, this dessert can be made up to two days ahead and chilled in the fridge.
Make-Ahead Time: Up to 3 days
These cookies combine the popular flavors of peanut butter, chocolate, and oatmeal into one tasty sweet that guests of all ages will love. After baking, store them in a clear airtight container and display. For a party favor, divide them into takeout boxes for guests to enjoy after the event.
Make-Ahead Time: 1 to 3 hours
Fruit, nuts, and yogurt are the key ingredients in these creamy parfaits. Layer all the ingredients in clear glasses for a presentation that's just as pleasing to the eye as to the appetite. You can prepare the vanilla cream and berries up to three hours before serving, or completely assemble the up to an hour ahead and chill.
Make-Ahead Time: Up to 2 hours
A cousin to the cobbler, galettes feature fruit in a melt-in-your-mouth pastry crust. The fresh peaches and blueberries in this galette lend a summertime flavor–when available, check your local farmer's market for the freshest produce. The galette can be served immediately or made up to two hours in advance.
Make-Ahead Time: Up to 12 hours
The homemade graham cracker and walnut crust, chocolate filling, and airy meringue topping make this pie irresistible. For even quicker preparation or for guests with nut allergies, you can use a store-bought crust instead. Allow one hour for the pie to cool and at least another three hours for it to chill.
Make-Ahead Time: 24 hours
For a twist on the traditional cake, try this layered torte. The chocolate, raspberry jam, and almonds blend together for a unique flavor that will have your party-goers raving for days. One reviewer recommends baking the cake and assembling the layers the night before, then preparing the ganache on the day of the party.
Make-Ahead Time: 2 days
Vary the flavor of this creamy vanilla pudding by stirring in peanut butter or coconut milk. You can prepare the pudding up to two days ahead and store covered in the fridge.