10 Desserts to Know by Heart

Recipes from The Kitchn

What are the desserts you know by heart? The sweets you make over and over, to the point where you barely need the recipe? Dessert can be a special treat to end a meal, or a simple comfort during a tiring week, and we have a few we love enough to memorize. These are often the simplest and the easiest to remember, like a batch of warm chocolate chip cookies or that light-as-a-feather one-ingredient ice cream.

Others of these sweets have a classic elegance, like the chocolate layer cake that your friends always beg you to make for their birthdays, or that most perfect of all desserts: panna cotta. Here are 10 desserts, big and small, that we think are worth knowing by heart.

Chocolate Layer Cake
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A "by heart" dessert really means two kinds of recipes to us: Those that are so easy that they barely require a recipe, like One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream and fruit poached with wine and spice. And then the recipes that are maybe a little trickier — like a good pie crust or a batch of ice cream — but that we make so often that the process feels intuitive.

Both kinds of desserts form the bedrock of our dessert repertoire. Know how to make a pie crust and you can whip up a galette or a fruit-filled pie on a whim. Memorize the formula for a creamy panna cotta and you have an easy, crowd-pleasing dessert whenever you need one. The process for making a chocolate cake is more or less the same for any kind of cake — take this muscle memory with you as you take on new recipes. And so on with just about every recipe on this list.

What desserts do you know by heart? Which ones do you think are essential for the home cook to know?

    TOP ROW
  • 1

    How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies - You just can't go wrong with chocolate chip cookies. With this version, you don't even need a mixer.

  • 2 Chocolate Layer Cake - Does a chocolate cake sound intimidating to you? It shouldn't! This fluffy, tender, and deeply chocolatey cake is ready in about an hour and couldn't be easier.

  • 3 One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream - Yup, that's right. Frozen bananas whizzed in a food processor are a dead ringer for vanilla ice cream. Take a look at our 5 favorite flavor variations when you feel like switching it up.

  • 4 How to Make Panna Cotta - This is Faith's ultimate dessert for everything from a weeknight treat to a big dinner party. It's easy, it's elegant, and it's endlessly adaptable.

  • 5 Roasted Strawberry Goat Cheese Squares on Puff Pastry - This is the perfect example of what you can make with a package of puff pastry in the freezer. If strawberries aren't in season, go for apples, a few black berries, or any other ripe fruit — even just a dollop of jam and a sprinkle of nuts!
Chocolate Wafer Icebox Stacks
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    BOTTOM ROW
  • 6 How to Make a Pie from Start to Finish - Knowing how to make a good pie crust is one of those essential skills that's always handy to have in your back pocket. And it's not as intimidating as you might think!

  • 7 Chocolate Wafer Icebox Stacks - These ¨ber-simple little cakelets are more delicious and more addictive than they have any right to be. Just trust us on this one. Switch it up with different cookies or by flavoring the whipped cream.

  • 8 How to Make Ice Cream at Home - Use this base to add any other flavorings your brain can imagine — fresh blueberries, a swirl of chocolate fudge, candied nuts, peppermint... Plus you can still make ice cream without an ice cream maker.

  • 9 How to Make a Fruit Crumble with Any Kind of Fruit - No matter the season and no matter the fruit, a fruit crumble is always there for you.

  • 10 Honey and Spice Poached Pears - Last but not least, we have poached fruit. It's amazing how decadent a simple piece of fruit can feel once you've poached it in a little simple syrup or leftover wine with a handful of spices. The method in this recipe applies to any tree fruit you have in the kitchen — apples, apricots, peaches, plums... You get the idea!

(Images: See linked recipes for full image credits)

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