Whether you're cooking for a celebration, a book club, or a dinner party at home, these ten desserts won't let you down. We've gathered the fudgiest chocolate cakes, the creamiest flan, the most over-the-top cheesecake–all creations guaranteed to make you shine.
Banana Split CheesecakeJust when you thought you could never improve on a classic banana split, here's a cheesecake version that's over-the-top good and also lower in fat than a traditional cheesecake.
Recipe: Banana Split Cheesecake
Chocolate-Bourbon CakeRich and fudgy, with an intense chocolate flavor, this cake gets its incredibly moist texture from frequent basting with coffee-bourbon syrup during baking. A grown-up dessert with a delightfully boozy kick, serve slender slices with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Recipe: Chocolate-Bourbon Cake
Angel Food Cake Stuffed with Whipped Cream and BerriesThis summery sweet takes three basics–cake, whipped cream, and berries–and elevates them to showstopper status with a few neat tricks. Ginger and orange juice brighten the light, spongy angel food cake, while vanilla bean seeds perfume the whipped cream. The berries are stashed inside the cake itself, their bright color offering a visual surprise with every slice.
Caramel Cake with Cream Cheese FrostingBrown sugar stars in this drop-dead-scrumptious dessert, adding depth and complexity to everything from the yellow cake layers to the creamy caramel filling and cream cheese frosting. Use a candy thermometer to give the caramel proper flavor and consistency–get it right, and this cake could make your reputation as a baker.
Caramel-Pecan TartWith all the flavor of a traditional pecan pie but none of the goo, this tart features a candy-like filling encased in a sturdy shortbread crust. Nutty, buttery, with hint of honey, a thin slice is the perfect partner to a cup of after-dinner coffee. Plus, it transports well, making it a contender for potlucks and other group dinners.
Recipe: Caramel-Pecan Tart
Chocolate-Espresso Torte with Raspberry SauceImagine the densest, darkest, most chocolatey cake ever–just butter, sugar, eggs, chocolate, and a pour of espresso to deepen the chocolate flavor. This is a flourless confection, so expect the center to sink in after baking. It gives the cake an appealingly rustic look.
White Chocolate-Key Lime PieMaking this pie is unbelievably easy. Simply melt together whipping cream and white chocolate to make a thick ganache, then add sour cream, lime juice, and zest to give it that characteristic key lime tang. Pour it into a prepared pie crust and you're done. Served straight from the fridge, this dessert will cool off a warm summer gathering on the patio.
Recipe: White Chocolate-Key Lime Pie
Bittersweet Chocolate PuddingEnriched with egg yolks, whipping cream, and two cups of chopped bittersweet chocolate, this pudding is smoother, more voluptuous, and far more flavorful than anything made from a mix. Serve in a large bowl for family-style dining, or spoon the pudding into teacups or ramekins for an adorable presentation.
Recipe: Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding
Thin French Apple TartThis dramatic 12-inch tart will elicit a "wow" from your guests–they never have to know that it uses only six ingredients and bakes in just half an hour. Arrange slices of cinnamon-sugared apples in concentric circles and brush with a honey-vanilla glaze after baking to give the tart a professional-looking glossy finish.
Recipe: Thin French Apple Tart
Vanilla-Caramel FlanFlecked with specks of vanilla bean, this smooth, creamy flan makes for worry-free dinner parties because it can be made up to two days ahead. When you unmold individual custards onto plates, the caramel sauce used to line each ramekin forms a pool of amber syrup around each serving.
Recipe: Vanilla-Caramel Flan