Our Best Quick Desserts

Whipped Mascarpone
Photo: Eva Kolenko

it's wonderful when you have the time to really go all out on a cake or a pie, but sometimes you just need a quick dessert. These are some recipes that will get you something sweet in a hurry, from gooey molten chocolate cake to creamy rice pudding.

01 of 24

Coconut Arborio Rice Pudding

Coconut Arborio Rice Pudding

Arborio rice is great for Stephanie Prida's pudding, because the plump grains stay perfectly firm and chewy.

02 of 24

Best-Ever Banana Splits

Best-Ever Banana Splits. Photo © Tina Rupp
© Tina Rupp

What makes these banana splits from Sweet Rose Creamery in Santa Monica, California, so good is the insanely fudgy chocolate sauce coupled with the light, crunchy almond topping.

03 of 24

Coconut Pudding with Raspberry Sauce

Coconut Pudding with Raspberry Sauce

Carolina Buia says that when her mother was growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, it was common for the lady of the house to present this creamy coconut dessert at parties. Even though it's referred to here as a pudding, it has a texture similar to panna cotta.

04 of 24

Gianduja Mousse

Gianduja Mousse
Frances Janisch

As if the chocolate-hazelnut spread gianduja isn't delicious enough straight off the spoon, I've folded in whipped cream and crème fraîche to create a truly decadent (and ridiculously easy) mousse. For a supereasy ice cream sandwich, spoon the mousse between chocolate wafers and freeze overnight.

05 of 24

Quick Apple Crumble with Lebneh

Quick Apple Crumble with Lebneh

The blend of flavors and textures here—crunchy, smooth, nutty, sweet, tart—makes this simple dessert irresistible. Opt for lebneh or another soft fresh cheese that won't melt quickly underneath the warm apples topped with a quick granola crumble.

06 of 24

Creamy Peach Tart with Smoky Almond Crust

Creamy Peach Tart with Smoky Almond Crust. Photo © Tina Rupp
© Tina Rupp

An almost-instant crust, made with vanilla wafer cookies and smoked almonds, is the secret to this simple and unusual tart.

07 of 24

Molten Chocolate Cake

Molten Chocolate Cake
© James Baigrie

This incredibly chocolaty and quick dessert is made with dark chocolate for extra decadence.

08 of 24

Toasts with Ricotta and Warm Balsamic-Caramel Apples

Toasts with Ricotta and Apples
© Antonis Achilleos

New York City chef April Bloomfield will publish her memoir and cookbook, tentatively titled A Girl and Her Pig, in 2012. It will feature recipes from her three restaurants, including The Spotted Pig, many of them combining hot and cold ingredients. The chilled ricotta served over warm apples here expresses her style and makes an amazingly fast dessert.

09 of 24

Honey-Roasted Apricots with Amaretti Cookies

Honey-Roasted Apricots with Amaretti Cookies
John Kernick

Jessica Theroux drizzles apricots with honey before roasting (plums and peaches work well, too) and crumbles store-bought amaretti (Italian cookies made with egg whites and almond flour) for a crispy topping.

10 of 24

Pineapple Foster

Pineapple Foster

This easy pineapple foster recipe is spiced with cinnamon and spiked with dark rum. To save time, buy precut fresh pineapple chunks from the salad bar in the deli section of your supermarket.

11 of 24

Swirled Summer Berry Soufflés

Swirled Summer Berry Soufflé

When Annabel Langbein started cooking professionally in 1981, she began gaining weight, eventually putting on 50 pounds. A nutrition course at the Culinary Institute of America in New York's Hudson River valley put her on the course to healthier eating, teaching her how to prepare low-fat dishes that didn't make her feel deprived, like this decadent-tasting soufflé, a swirl of berries and marshmallowy meringue.

12 of 24

Mini Chocolate-Hazelnut Cheesecakes

Mini Chocolate-Hazelnut Cheesecakes
© Fredrika Stjärne

Grace Parisi breaks up whole, cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies in a food processor with hazelnuts and butter to create a supercrunchy crust for these delectable little cheesecakes. The cream filling in the cookies both sweetens the crust and prevents it from becoming too crumbly.

13 of 24

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
© Kana Okada

The luxurious frosting on this irresistible cupcake is made with store-bought strawberry jam.

14 of 24

Apple-Butter Ice Cream with Ginger-Chocolate Ganache

Apple-Butter Ice Cream with Ginger-Chocolate Ganache
David Malosh

Folding apple butter into vanilla ice cream is a great way to add elegance. Green Aisle Grocery's Adam Erace also adds grated ginger to melted chocolate to make a fast sundae topping; for a more caramel-like sauce, substitute dulce de leche for the melted chocolate. the melted chocolate.

15 of 24

Crêpes with Strawberries and Muscat-Yogurt Sauce

Crêpes with Strawberries and Muscat-Yogurt Sauce
© Marcus Nilsson

Nichole Birdsall tops these crêpes with strawberries, a superfruit high in vitamin C and potent antioxidants, and a creamy, orangey sauce sweetened with a splash of Bonterra Muscat dessert wine instead of sugar.

16 of 24

Molten Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Filling

Molten Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Filling
James Baigrie

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

17 of 24

Plum-and-Honey Sabayon Gratins

Plum–and–Honey Sabayon Gratins
© Quentin Bacon

This stunning plum-studded sabayon—an airy custard sweetened with clover honey and Moscato—is summer's answer to crème brûlée. If you don't have Moscato on hand, any honey-inflected dessert wine will do, such as Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise or a late-harvest Riesling.

18 of 24

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.

19 of 24

Brown–Butter Crêpes with Nutella and Jam

Brown-Butter Crêpes with Nutella and Jam
© Marcus Nilsson

To give his crêpes a subtle, nutty flavor, Mike Price browns the butter for his batter. "Any jam will go with hazelnuts and chocolate," the chef says. "You can't screw that up."

20 of 24

Ricotta Ice Cream with Honey and Almonds

Ricotta Ice Cream with Honey and Almonds

Toasted almonds make an excellent textural contrast to creamy ricotta ice cream.

21 of 24

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.

22 of 24

Blueberry Mousse

Blueberry Mousse
© Eva Kolenko

Sour cream gives this blueberry mousse a wonderful, subtle tanginess.

23 of 24

Whipped Mascarpone

Whipped Mascarpone
Eva Kolenko

Whipping mascarpone cheese with cream and sugar turns the dense, decadent spread into a pillowy dessert topper. Spoon it over the Rhubarb and Candied Ginger Crostata for your next Easter gathering.

24 of 24

Chocolate Chunk Cookie for Just One

Chocolate Chunk Cookie for One
© Con Poulos

When you need a quick dessert, or just a bit of something sweet, and it's just you, this is the recipe to reach for. It takes 5 minutes to put together, bakes in a toaster oven, and requires no mixer—just a fork.

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