June 13, 2024


Cooking Is My World

36 Mother’s Day desserts for the sweetest Sunday


Once the gifts are purchased and the cards are made, all that’s left to complete the ultimate Mother’s Day celebration is the food — which, let’s face it, may really be the most important thing of all.

Whether the mama bear in your life is all for a serious breakfast in bed spread, prefers sitting around a beautiful table with loved ones for brunch or wants all the attention on a lavish dinner, dessert is key. And honestly, this special occasion is about spoiling, so no one is judging if the family makes cake for breakfast. It is, after all, the most important meal of the day.

Now, finding the right dessert for Mother’s Day is an important task. And if you, dear reader, have been tasked with it, it’s necessary to first choose the approach. Is Mom someone who appreciates an elaborate cake or does she want something simple and nostalgic? Does she love chocolate? Caramel? Delicate fruits? Warm seasonings? Something sweet and milky? All of the above? Whichever her preference, we’ve got you covered.

Ready to impress mom to pieces? Take a scroll through our list of decadent, delicious and delightful desserts in honor of the people who are sweet enough to give us life.

Pies, puddings and parfaits

Salted Caramel Mocha Chess Pie by Maya-Camille Broussard

Salty caramel sauce made from heavenly ingredients like brown sugar, cream and vanilla seep into this smooth, gooey pie. With cocoa, espresso, buttermilk and other sweet notes, this pie has a flavor combination no one can resist.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp by Siri Daly and Gretchen DeBoer

Rhubarb thrives in springtime and adds the perfect sweet, colorful touch to berry crisps. With its vibrant pink stalks cooked into the warm juices of strawberries and a sugary topping, it’s a perfect Mother’s Day dessert.

Quick Coffee-Chocolate Mousse by Clodagh McKenna

This will become a go-to dessert when you have very little time to make anything, but still want to give everyone a treat. These take just 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to chill, and you can make them a day ahead.

Gelatin Delight Salad by Dylan Dreyer and Linda Dreyer

Straight out of the 1960s, this gelatin dish was a staple at Dylan Dreyer’s childhood table, served as a side dish to savory mains. It’s ideal for a special occasion and can certainly stand alone as a dessert for moms craving a dose of nostalgia.

Quick Strawberry ‘Shortcake’ by Lidia Bastianich

This recipe is so easy to assemble, uses any fruit in season and you can flavor it with any liquor you like. It’s a light, bright, perfectly portioned way to end a meal.

Bananas Foster by Millie Peartree

“This is a Southern staple. Who doesn’t like something sweet at the end of the meal? It reminds me of the first time I had it with my mom and sister in New Orleans,” says Millie Peartree. “Whether served with pound cake and ice cream or frozen yogurt, it is the perfect closer to any meal.”

Purple Plum Torte by Amanda Hesser and Marian Burros

This torte happily lives up to its billing as one of The New York Times archives’ most requested recipes. It’s crusty and light, with deep wells of slackened, sugar-glazed plums. It may very well be a nearly perfect recipe. There are only eight ingredients, all of which, except for the plums, you probably already have in your kitchen.

Sheinelle’s Grandma’s Strawberry Jell-O Salad by Sheinelle Jones

“This recipe just reminds me of family getting together. My grandma makes this, and we eat it as a salad and as a dessert ’cause it’s so yummy,” says Sheinelle Jones. “The sweet strawberries, tropical pineapple, tangy sour cream and crunchy nuts cover all the flavor and texture bases you want in a great dish.”

Melissa Clark’s Key Lime Cream Pie by Melissa Clark

Key lime pies are an iconic American dessert. But they’re not always so easy to make. They’ve got to be decadent but light, cool and creamy … and this one has it all!

Banana Pudding by Elizabeth Chambers Hammer

This pudding is incredibly easy and perfect for any event, from an Easter brunch to a summertime cookout. It looks stunning when presented in a footed-glass trifle dish, so everyone can see the lovely layers. The best part? It can be made ahead and refrigerated — and it may be even more delicious the next day.

Mother’s Day cakes

Tiramisu Cake by Alejandra Ramos

Turn a simple box mix into an elegant tiramisu-inspired cake with hints of espresso, chocolate and rum. This cake is frosted naked-style for a trendy rustic dessert that requires no special decorating skills. A finish of chocolate shavings or a dusting of cocoa powder gives it an effortlessly elegant look.

Lemon and Blackcurrant Stripe Cake by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

The combination of tart lemon and sweet, dark berries coupled with the rich buttercream frosting make this a refreshing yet decadent dessert. Black currents may not always be easy to get hold of, but blackberries (or frozen mixed berries) will work just was well to get the bright color. When you slice into it, everyone will undoubtedly be impressed.

One-Bowl Olive Oil Cake by Lidia Bastianich

This is a recipe that Lidia Bastianich’s grandmother used to make. It’s simple, delicious and can be dressed up in any number of ways — including with poached or sautéed fruit.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting by Laurel Gallucci

Accommodate everyone’s dietary needs with this gluten-free carrot cake that’s just lightly sweetened and has the perfect amount of spice. To make the recipe vegan, use a blend of chia seeds and flaxseeds instead of eggs to make the batter. For the best appearance and texture, wait to make the frosting until a few hours before serving and frost the cake no more than an hour before serving.

Red Velvet Layer Cake by Christina Tosi

The bold color contrast of rich, deep-red velvet cake layers and frosting make this cake as appealing to look at as it is to eat. Red velvet frosting and chocolate cheesecake frosting make this one of the most indulgent cakes ever. Up the ante even more with chocolate cookie crumbs on top.

Coconut Bliss Cake by Seton Rossini

This recipe is a deconstruction of the Almond Joy, reassembled in the best possible way. One bite of this cake, coated in a decadent chocolate fudge sauce and adorned in almonds, and you’ll be hooked. It’s the fabulous little candy all grown up.

Chocolate Cake by Craig Strong

Coffee is Craig Stone’s secret ingredient for making chocolate cake super moist and flavorful. It makes the chocolate taste even more deep and rich. It’s also surprisingly easy to prepare and is sure to make a big impression.

Sorbet Cake by Alex Guarnaschelli

Spumoni is an Italian layered dessert that consists of a few flavors of ice cream (often pistachio, strawberry and vanilla to represent the colors of the Italian flag). This version made with sorbet is festive, colorful and above all, tasty and refreshing. It’s a good, no-bake cake with some dramatic flair for special occasions in spring and summer.

Martha Stewart’s Mile High Salted-Caramel Chocolate Cake by Martha Stewart

For chocolate-loving mamas, this cake from Martha Stewart is truly, madly and deeply chocolaty. Pools of rich salted caramel separate layers of chocolate cake, and are then swathed with dark chocolate frosting and sprinkled with flaky salt. Prep the wondrous cake layers and caramel up to three days before assembling (chilling actually improves the texture for stacking), which makes it look effortless.

One-Bowl Carrot Cake by Vallery Lomas

This one bowl, one-layer carrot cake is the perfect mix-and-bake dessert for novices and skilled bakers alike. It’s packed full of flavor from cozy spices like cinnamon and vanilla, and it’s also got texture from toasty nuts.

Coconut Macaroon and Lime Cheesecake by John Whaite

The trick to an utterly delicious macaroon base is to combine the coconut with melted marshmallows before baking. Since marshmallows are a great setting agent, you can use them for the filling, too, so there is no need to bake it again. The zesty lime curd adds just the right amount of tanginess to create a perfectly balanced dessert.

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake by Trisha Yearwood

Trisha Yearwood is a big fan of salty and sweet mixed together. “My grandmother Lizzie Paulk often used biscuits in place of pastry in her recipes,” she says. “Nowadays, most people use angel food cake or pound cake for this dessert, but I like the old-fashioned mix of the not-so-sweet biscuit with the sweetness of the strawberries and the whipped cream. I serve this dessert in the summer with fresh-picked berries from our local strawberry farm.”

Lemon Velvet Cake by April Anderson and Shirley Madison

This sunny cake takes red velvet from fall to spring with a lemony makeover. It’s great for celebrating the warming weather and end of winter. Instead of a stately layer cake this recipe can be turned into 24 cute, individual cupcakes, too.

Lemon Flower Cake by Courtney Rich

When you want to capture all the vibrant colors and fresh flavors of spring in every sweet bite, this is the cake to make for Mom. The festive flowers and lemon-scented cake and frosting make it bright, citrusy and delicious.

Cinnamon Roll Pound Cake by Jocelyn Delk Adams

This cake is a tribute to good ol’-fashioned gooey rolls, soft and full like fluffy pillows, piping hot out of the oven, entwined with ribbons of spiced cinnamon sugar, sticky with dripping cream cheese icing. Imagine a moist pound cake with a buttery cinnamon swirl dancing through the batter like a ballerina. Then, top that with the notorious cream cheese icing cinnamon rolls are known for.

Cookies, bars and other confections

Joanna Gaines’ Strawberry Shortcake by Joanna Gaines

“My husband’s favorite way to eat biscuits is with jam and gravy, but mine is in strawberry shortcake,” says Joanna Gaines. “This classic doesn’t need much of an introduction, but if you’ve never had sweetened ripe strawberries spooned over soft, buttery biscuits with homemade whipped cream, you’re in for a real treat.”

Melissa Clark’s Fresh Any Fruit Tart by Melissa Clark

During spring and summer, you can bet on an abundance of fresh fruit. Instead of letting extra stone fruits and berries go to waste, put them to use in this delicious tart. The flavors will blend together seamlessly and mom will definitely be impressed.

Raspberry Meringues by Joanne Chang

Meringue clouds are light as air and adding raspberry takes them to another level, both aesthetically and flavor-wise. The berries help balance the meringue, which is basically like crispy sugar, from being too sweet, too.

Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwiches with Cream Cheese Frosting by Alejandra Ramos

These soft cookie sandwiches are packed with all the same flavors as a slice of cream cheese-frosted carrot cake in an easy handheld package that’s perfect for serving mom as she reclines in bed or on the porch.

Strawberry Shortcake Caramel Snaps by Christina Tosi

With one delicious formula — crunchy cookie base, layered with a flavor center (caramel, peanut butter, jam, marshmallows — you name it!), a crunchy/sandy layer (like small crackers, mini pretzels, anything delicious and crumbly/broken up), chocolate coating and a textural topping (like crushed nuts, candies, etc.) — you can get super creative and dream up a snap that has a personalized flavor story.

Potato Chip and Bacon Brownies by Trisha Yearwood

If ever there was a day to indulge and be spoiled, it’s Mother’s Day! Help Mom enjoy the irresistible combination of salty, crunchy chips and bacon pieces and rich, luscious chocolate. Sliced up into brownie bars, these will make the whole family feel grateful to be alive!

Flowerpot Brownies by Jocelyn Delk Adams

Jocelyn Delk Adams loves serving these flowerpot brownies. They can be tailored to any spring gathering, from Easter to birthdays, and are also perfect for Mother’s Day, gifted with a pretty plant or adorned with personalized notes of love and gratitude.

Duff Goldman’s Brown-Butter Blondies by Duff Goldman

Duff Goldman swears by this versatile recipe and it’s the one he uses for the blondies at all of his bakeries. They’re buttery, sweet and made from just seven easy-to-find ingredients.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars by Carrie Parente

These bars are rich, creamy, satisfying and taste better than any store-bought peanut butter cup we’ve ever had. You can use crushed pretzels instead of graham crackers, if you like. Serve ’em straight from the fridge so they don’t get too soft.

Hoda’s Mom’s Baklava by Sami Kotb and Hoda Kotb

“Sure, spending time with family and friends is great, but we all know that one of the best parts of the holidays is eating sweet, butter-laden treats,” says Hoda Kotb. “My mom, Sami, always made flaky, nutty, syrupy baklava for special occasions and it remains one of my all-time favorite indulgences.”

Lemon, Lime and Earl Grey Sablés by Samantha Seneviratne

These uniquely flavored, elegant cookies are astonishingly simple to make and taste truly special. And you can make the dough well in advance and freeze it. Even the baked cookies freeze well. We love a recipe that can be prepped ahead.


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