7 Essential Dessert Recipes To Get You Through Life
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7 Essential Dessert Recipes To Get You Through Life

My favorite recipes from childhood to adulthood.

7 Essential Dessert Recipes To Get You Through Life
Amanda Coletti

My mom first taught me how to make macaroni and cheese when I was four years old.

I sat on the countertop stirring in all that delicious cheese and marveling at how mixing several ingredients together can make something new. She and I once made up a song to memorize the ingredients to our favorite pancake recipe and would sit around the table bookmarking our favorite recipes.

Cooking and baking have always been at the core of my Italian-American family. Now that I have my own kitchen, I still make the recipes of my childhood, but I also invent new ones to add to my ever-growing recipe collection. Here are my seven favorite desserts I love to make.

1. Summer cupcakes

Having a birthday close to a holiday can often result in your birthday having that holiday's theme...forever. Mine is very close to the 4th of July, which always means there are tons of red, white, and blue decorations on sale to use for my birthday party. One of my favorite Independence Day themed desserts is a summer cake with fruit on top, arranged to look like the American flag.

The original recipe was featured on Ina Garten's show "The Barefoot Contessa" on the Food Network. I later adapted the main elements of the cake to make my own summer birthday cupcakes. These consist of vanilla cupcakes, cream cheese frosting, fresh raspberries and blueberries, and a bit of extra frosting piped on the top using a star tip.

2. Extreme caramel apples

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because I get to dress up like a flapper from the 20s most years, but also because there are so many creative Halloween-themed desserts to make!

One classic fall dessert, the caramel apple, was a feature on another Food Network show that highlighted a local farm selling caramel apples rolled in chocolate cookies. When my mom and I made our own spin on it, we ended up making these extreme caramel apples, and it became a new tradition. These are made from Granny Smith apples that are first dipped in caramel, then dipped in chocolate, and finally rolled in chopped walnuts. By pairing the tart apple and salty walnuts with the sweetness of the caramel and chocolate, this treat satisfies all the flavor cravings. Warning: these apples must be eaten with a knife unless you want to break a tooth or a retainer (like I did).

3. Pumpkin pie

Am I the only one who wants pumpkin pie when it's not Fall? This pumpkin pie is made using the classic Libby's pumpkin pie filling recipe on the side of the can, but the crust is something special. Instead of using butter or lard, rolling out the dough, and trying to transfer the dough to the pan without it breaking, this dough is made with canola oil and is pressed into the pie plate just like Playdough.

Every time I make this dough, I get to channel my inner child when pressing the dough into the plate and create the edge crust design using my fingers to make a zigzag pattern. Once it comes out of the oven, this crust is super flaky and pairs surprisingly well with some chocolate ice cream.

4. Chocolate pudding cake trifle

This chocolate pudding cake trifle is a visually stunning dessert, that is actually quite easy to make. The idea for this dessert started out as a last-minute improvised creation when I came home for the holidays to find that my parents didn't have the ingredients for the traditional tiramisu that I typically make for Christmas. So, using the ingredients we had in the fridge, this trifle was born.

I used a standard box mix cake, store-bought pudding, and whipped cream to create the layers, finishing it off with raspberries on top. Using a clear trifle dish allows you to see the layers and adds a bit of elegance to this secretly simple dessert.

5. Mini Oreo cheesecakes

This winter I challenged myself to more productive procrastination activities. Baking is very soothing for me, so it was easy to start making one thing every time we had a snow day. Since I live in New England there were more snow days than desired, but I was able to take time from working from home to bake some fun desserts.

I found these mini Oreo cheesecakes from a Pinterest recipe. An entire Oreo cookie serves as the crust at the bottom of muffin tin, with the cookie crumb cream cheese filling on top. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for these little cheesecakes to cool in the fridge when all you want to do is eat one.

6. Gluten-free brownies

My mom requires a gluten-free diet, so I've tried more than my fair share of store bought gluten free items that taste like cardboard. However, when we found Ardenne Farms' gluten-free fudge brownie box mix recipe, it was a breakthrough for her. Most people would never guess this brownie is gluten-free! Perfectly chewy with the slightest crackle on top, these brownies are always a crowd favorite.

7. Nutella croissants

This recipe for Nutella croissants was created out of the necessity of graduate school life, and it is hands down the easiest dessert you'll ever make. Just two ingredients: store-bought croissant dough and Nutella. Simply, spread some Nutella on the dough, roll it up, place on a greased baking tray, and set your timer for several minutes in the oven. A simple yet indulgent treat that feels like a warm hug.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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