Fast and Easy Desserts

Chocolate-Almond Bars
Photo: © David Malosh

In a bind, turn to these tasty confections to satisfy your sweet tooth. From a lemon-cherry yogurt parfait to mini black-bottom cheesecakes, these desserts don't sacrifice taste for time.

01 of 20

German Chocolate Cake Sundae

German Chocolate Cake Sundae
https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/german-chocolate-cake-sundae

Like many pastry chefs, Ghaya Oliveira loves taking classic desserts, breaking them down into their components and reconfiguring them. This approach inspired Grace Parisi to transform a traditional recipe for German chocolate cake into an elegant and incredibly delicious ice cream sundae.

02 of 20

Mini Black-Bottom Cheesecakes

Mini Black-Bottom Cheesecakes with Jam.
© Tina Rupp

Parisi made several versions of these brilliant little jam-topped cheesecakes, substituting fromage blanc and other tangy soft cheeses for the usual sour cream. Some versions were sweeter, others more tart; all were delicious.

03 of 20

Molten Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling

Molten Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling
© James Baigrie

More decadent than molten chocolate cake: one filled with warm raspberry, reveals F&W's Grace Parisi.

04 of 20

Cherries Poached in Red Wine with Mascarpone Cream

Cherries Poached in Red Wine with Mascarpone Cream
Ben Dearnley

Thick mascarpone cheese mixed with honey makes a luscious topping for poached cherries. You can serve the dessert either warm or cold. We love it both ways.

05 of 20

Mini Cassata Cakes

Mini Cassata Cakes

Pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira makes a version of cassata, the ornate Sicilian dessert with layers of sponge cake, sweetened ricotta, candied fruit, dark chocolate and marzipan. The easy recipe here is Grace Parisi's own interpretation.

06 of 20

Sliced Oranges with Thyme Syrup

Sliced Oranges with Thyme Syrup

Oranges and thyme are magical together in this simple and elegant dessert. If you want a completely clear syrup without the bits of thyme, put the leaves in a tea ball and remove it once the syrup is chilled.

07 of 20

Zabaglione with Strawberries

Zabaglione with Strawberries

Here we serve the zabaglione hot when it's just made, but if you want to prepare the dish ahead of time, mix the zabaglione with whipped cream and refrigerate it as described in the first variation below.

08 of 20

Blueberries with Custard Sauce

Blueberries with Custard Sauce
© Sabra Krock

A classic pair, blueberries and custard sauce are both delicious on their own, but even more satisfying together.

09 of 20

Berry Fool with Black Pepper

Berry Fool with Black Pepper

Black pepper is an unlikely and stimulating addition to this dessert of fresh strawberries in whipped cream flavored with raspberry puree and Grand Marnier.

10 of 20

Honey-Lime Strawberries with Whipped Cream

Honey-Lime Strawberries with Whipped Cream

These strawberries, macerated in lime and honey, become a bracing summer dessert when served over a scoop of lemon sorbet. The whole thing can also go into the blender with a shot of rum to make an excellent frozen daiquiri.

11 of 20

Lemon-Cherry Yogurt Parfait

Lemon-Cherry Yogurt Parfait
Stephanie Foley

Thick and creamy Greek-style yogurt is a fast and healthy base for tangy parfaits. Here, Grace Parisi folds some of the yogurt with lemon juice and zest, mixes the rest with chunky cherry preserves, then spoons the yogurt into glasses in alternate layers.

12 of 20

Creamy Rose Panna Cotta

Creamy Rose Panna Cotta
PHOTO © ANNA WILLIAMS

Chef Erin Eastland created this supereasy and refreshing dessert. It's delicate without being eggy, no easy feat.

13 of 20

Espresso Granita with Whipped Cream

Espresso Granita with Whipped Cream
JAMES BAIGRIE

Top the granita with a hefty portion of whipped cream; you'll need the mild sweetness of the cream to balance the strong espresso.

14 of 20

Caramelized-Pineapple Baked Alaskas

Caramelized-Pineapple Baked Alaskas
© Stephanie Foley

Baked Alaska is a layer of cake covered with ice cream and meringue. In this version, Grace Parisi skips the cake. Instead, she tops ice cream (preferably coconut) with pineapple chunks that have been sautéed with store-bought dulce de leche, then spoons a quick meringue over the fruit and broils until golden.

15 of 20

Rich Baked Chocolate Puddings

Rich Baked Chocolate Puddings
© John Kernick

Although this deep, dark chocolate pudding is easily made in ramekins, it's fun to bake and serve in small glass jars. Pim Techamuanvivit likes using old, mismatched jam jars.

16 of 20

Citrus Gratin with Toasted Almonds

Citrus Gratin with Toasted Almonds
© Dana Gallagher

This warm citrus dessert is an updated version of the old-fashioned half grapefruit broiled with brown sugar. In addition to vitamin C, the recipe provides vitamin E from the scattering of sweet and crunchy almonds on top.

17 of 20

Manhattan Ice Cream Float

Manhattan Ice Cream Float

Frasca makes his own bourbon ice cream and cherry syrup for this clever riff on a Manhattan. For his superquick version, he blends vanilla ice cream with bourbon and uses a high-quality black cherry soda.

18 of 20

Salted Fudge Brownies

Salted Fudge Brownies
© Tina Rupp

Kate Krader has been making these fudgy, sweet-salty brownies since she was 10 years old. As a kid she used regular table salt; now she recommends a flaky sea salt like Maldon, because the flavor is less harsh and it melts so nicely into the batter, accentuating the chocolaty sweetness.

19 of 20

No-Bake Chocolate Custard

No-Bake Chocolate Custard
© Amy Sims

This supersilky chocolate custard is ready in just 30 minutes.

20 of 20

Chocolate-Almond Bars

Chocolate-Almond Bars
© David Malosh

Almonds and chocolate are a winning combination. For these crisp, chewy bars, Grace Parisi mixes roasted almonds, almond butter and chocolate chips with sugar and egg, then bakes them.

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