18 Showstopping Desserts to Make This Spring

Aperol Spritz Cake with Prosecco-Poached Rhubarb
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Spring is the time for awe-inspiring blooms, and these refreshing desserts reflect all the season's prismatic beauty right on the plate. From the deep blush of Aperol Spritz Cake with Prosecco-Poached Rhubarb to golden-hued Mango-Basil Vacherin to crimson Wine-Poached Strawberries and Apricots, there are plenty of delectable desserts here to appease the eye and tastebuds until summer's bounty arrives.

01 of 18

Cornmeal-Almond Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone

Cornmeal-Almond Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone
Paul Costello

This buttery cornmeal cake contains more than a half-pound of toasted almonds, giving it an excellent, nutty flavor. Instead of using plain whipped cream as a topping, chef Mike Lata whips a combination of cream and mascarpone for a bit of tanginess.

02 of 18

Spiced Rhubarb Soup with Vanilla Ice Cream

Spiced Rhubarb Soup with Vanilla Ice Cream
Lucy Schaeffer

This silky fruit dessert is delicious on its own or topped with vanilla ice cream. Just be sure to only barely cook the rhubarb, so that it retains its crispness — and plenty of tangy flavor.

03 of 18

Apricot Kuchen with Labneh Whipped Cream

Apricot Kuchen
Greg DuPree

This simple, sweet cake is studded with juicy apricots and served with a tangy labneh whipped cream. Frozen apricot halves will work when fresh are unavailable, as will many fruits as the seasons change; try grapes, apples, or nectarines.

04 of 18

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake
© Julie Craig

Cake flour is the secret ingredient in this lusciously light shortcake. Make sure that you use pure cake flour as opposed to self-rising cake flour, which is similarly packaged. This dessert is at its best within 30 minutes of assembly.

05 of 18

Mango-Basil Vacherin

Mango-Basil Vacherin. Photo © Kate Mathis
© Kate Mathis

Yigit Pura perfected this crisp-creamy French dessert while working at restaurant Daniel in New York City. His updated version combines little lime meringue kisses with basil ice cream and sweet mango sorbet.

06 of 18

Honey Cake with Citrus Frosting

Honey Cake with Citrus Frosting
John Kernick

This tender, light honey cake, laced with hints of coffee and orange juice, is perfect with a cup of tea. The top is adorned with brilliant slices of candied orange, making it almost too pretty to eat.

07 of 18

Spring Millefeuille

Spring Millefeuille
© Abby Hocking

When you cut the millefeuille, celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli recommends using a serrated knife and a sawing motion to cut even (and fairly neat) portions. Or just put in the center of the table with some forks and let things happen as they may.

08 of 18

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.

09 of 18

Aperol Spritz Cake with Prosecco-Poached Rhubarb

Aperol Spritz Cake with Prosecco Poached Rhubarb
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Choose deep red stalks of rhubarb for the most vibrant color atop this springtime dessert. The poached rhubarb syrup slowly soaks into the sponge, lightly glazing the top while adding delicious moisture to the cake below.

10 of 18

Carrot-Almond Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot-Almond Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Antonis Achilleos

In this carrot cake, almond flour is the predominant flour, which makes for a rich, dense, moist texture. It's sweetened with honey, which provides a floral complexity that complements the almonds. And because honey is more hygroscopic (absorbs more moisture from the air) than sugar, the cake stays moist for a week or more.

11 of 18

Rhubarb and Candied Ginger Crostata

Rhubarb and Candied Ginger Crostata
Eva Kolenko

A crostata is the kind of free-form tart that looks best when completely rustic — the more uneven folds of flaky, golden pastry and bubbling fruit juices, the better. This Easter stunner stars fresh rhubarb that's combined with rhubarb compote and studded with candied ginger. The crust comes together quickly and will hold well during a lazy Easter brunch.

12 of 18

Pandan Panna Cotta with Mango and Pink Peppercorn

Padan Panna Cotta Recipe
Alison Miksch

March is prime Ataulfo — aka Champagne — mango season, so be sure to search them out. They have an extra sweetness and richer flavor than other mangos, so you don't need to macerate them in sugar or employ other such tricks. But a sprinkling of crushed pink peppercorns on top does add pretty color and a little fragrant punch to complete the dish.

13 of 18

Wine-Poached Strawberries and Apricots

Wine Poached Strawberries and Apricot
Victor Protasio

Semi-dry Riesling, which is refreshing and not too sweet, is the secret to this impressive, balanced dessert. Dried apricots lend a gentle bitterness while the strawberries add sweetness and impart the rosiest color. Unsweetened whipped cream make you nervous? Trust us — the boozy berries provide all the sweetness this dessert needs.

14 of 18

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
© Tina Rupp

This elegant version of the classic pineapple upside-down cake starts with a slightly tangy, ultra moist sour cream cake. It's crowned with slices of fresh pineapple, which caramelize in the oven with brown sugar, butter, and real vanilla bean. The cake is excellent served warm with ice cream.

15 of 18

Strawberry-Mango Paletas

Strawberry-Mango Paletas
© John Kernick

When crafting new paletas for her company La Newyorkina, Zany Gerson's rule of thumb is this: If the colors of her ingredients go together, the flavors will, too. These bright, red-and-orange-hued ice pops are perfect to make in May when juicy strawberries are at their peak.

16 of 18

Lemon-Buckwheat Shortbread

Lemon Buckwheat Shortbread
Victor Protasio

Lemon filling highlights the nuttiness of buckwheat flour in these shortbread cookie sandwiches from Top Chef alum Nina Compton. Use stone-ground flour if possible for the best flavor.

17 of 18

Olive Oil Cake with Honey-Yogurt Cream and Strawberries

Olive Oil Cake with Honey-Yogurt Cream and Strawberries
Eric Wolfinger

This is no featherweight spring cake: Olive oil and almond flour keep it dense and moist so it can hold plenty of juicy macerated strawberries. An infusion of lime in the cake batter and a tangy yogurt whipped cream brightens each slice.

18 of 18

Lemon Upside-Down Cake

Lemon Upside-Down Cake
© Thomas Heinser

Meyer lemon season stretches through the colder months and into the spring. They're cookbook author Cal Peternell's favorite here, but the cake is also wonderful with standard lemons or almost any other type of fruit, from figs and blood oranges to pineapple.

Updated by
Bridget Hallinan
Headshot of Bridget Hallinan

As an Associate Food Editor, Bridget Hallinan primarily focuses on home cooking content for Food & Wine.com. She writes and edits recipe content, interviews chefs for helpful tips and tricks, and works on franchises such as our cookbook roundups and taste tests.

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