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Best Simple Dessert Recipes for Dinner Parties and Other Occasions

Updated on November 15, 2016
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John applies his scientific & research skills (PhD) to develop recipes, food guides, reviews of healthy whole foods, ingredients & cooking

If you are planning a dinner party you don't want to become stressed and trapped battling a complex dessert recipe that has a high rate of failure.

What you need is first, is a great dessert that is easy to make.

Secondly, you need a reliable dessert that is fool-proof and disaster proof. Most cooks have seen their carefully soufflés suddenly deflate to disaster pudding.

Finally you need a recipe that is easy to follow even when you are stressed and running out of time because you have preparing a spectacular main meal for your guests and time is running out for the dessert.

This article provides a list of the best easy desserts that are reliable, quick and easy to make, with easy to follow directions

Berry pile - Simple, but very tasty.
Berry pile - Simple, but very tasty. | Source
Lovely sticky date pudding is easy to make and reliable as very little can go wrong
Lovely sticky date pudding is easy to make and reliable as very little can go wrong | Source
Apple tarts are easy to make and delicious
Apple tarts are easy to make and delicious | Source
Lovely chocolate mousse is easy to prepare and like by most people
Lovely chocolate mousse is easy to prepare and like by most people | Source

Sticky date pudding

For the pudding:

  • 420g (7.3 oz) plain flour
  • 5‏ ‎eggs
  • 125g (2.2 oz) castor sugar
  • 150g (0.8 oz) (2.6 oz) brown sugar
  • 150g (2.6 oz) butter
  • 25g (0.4 oz) bicarbonate of soda
  • 750ml (25.3 fl oz)water
  • 500g (8.8 oz) pitted dates

For butterscotch sauce:‭

  • 200ml (6.7 fl oz) thickened cream
  • 650g (11.4 oz) golden syrup
  • 100g (1.7 oz) white sugar
  • 150g (2.6 oz) soft brown sugar
  • 100g (1.7 oz) butter

Preheat your oven to‭ ‬160 degrees C (320 degrees F).‭ ‬Place the water and dates into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil.‭ ‬Add the bicarbonate of soda and simmer the dates over medium heat for‭ about ‬10‭ ‬minutes.‭ ‬Add both sugars and the butter and cook for 2-3 minutes on low heat until all the sugar has dissolved.‭ ‬Mix using a portable mixer or a wooden spoon and allow to cool slightly. Mix in the flour and eggs.‭ ‬Transfer the mixture to a greased 25-centimetre (10 inch) square cake tin, lined with parchment and bake for about‭ ‬35-45‭ ‬minutes. Test for doneness using a knife. When it comes out clean the cake is cooked.‭

For the butterscotch sauce,‭ ‬melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the golden syrup and sugar. Cook for 10 minutes while stirring slowly.‭ ‬Remove from heat and let cook for a few minutes.‭ ‬Add the cream and stir the mixture for 4-5 minutes to produce a smooth sauce.

Ginger and Apple Creme Fraiche Cake

For the‭ ‬crust:

  • 500g (8.8 oz) creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1kg (2.2 lb) dessert apples‭ (‬any variety‭)‬,‭ ‬cored and halved
  • 1/2‏ ‎teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2‏ ‎teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2/3‏ ‎cup plain flour
  • 1‏ ‎cup brown sugar
  • For the filling
  • 80g (1.4 oz) unsalted butter,‏ ‎melted
  • 200g (3.5 oz) ginger nut biscuits

For the topping:
4‏ ‎tablespoons‭ ‬apple or crab-apple‭ ‬jelly‭ (‬or similar‭)

Preheat the oven to‭ 1‬80 degrees C (355 degrees). Grease the base of a‭ ‬24 cm (10 in) springform tin. Place a circle of baking paper on the bottom of the pan. Using a blender or food processor, blend the ginger nut biscuits until the are finely ground.‭ ‬Add to a bowl, pour in the melted butter and mix to combine. Press the mixture into the base of the baking tin.‭ ‬Refrigerate the tin with base while you make the filling.

For the filling: Blend the spices, brown sugar and flour in a food processor for about 60 seconds.‭ ‬Cut the halved apple into thin slices and transfer to a large bowl. Add the sour cream or creme fraiche and mix into the apples‭ (‬best done with your fingers‭)‬.‭ ‬Add the sugar and flour mixture and coat all the apples slices evenly. Add the crumbed apple slices to the pan with the crumb biscuit base in layers. Transfer the pan to the over and bake for‭ ‬45‭ ‬-60 minutes or until the apples are soft (test with a metal skewer).‭ Remove from the oven and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. You can make it the day before.

For the topping: Melt the apple jelly in a microwave and‭ s‬poon over the cake.‭ ‬Put is back into the refrigerator to set the jelly. Remove from the refrigerator and release the cake from the‭ ‬springform tin.‭ ‬Slice with and sharp knife and serve with ice-cream, yogurt or whipped cream.

Quick chocolate Mousse with‭ ‬Mixed berries

  • 1‏ ‎punnet strawberries‭ (‬halved‭)
  • 1‏ ‎punnet raspberries
  • 1‏ ‎punnet blueberries
  • 4‏ ‎x‭ ‬150ml (5 fl oz) dishes
  • 2‏ ‎teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 200ml (6.7 fl oz) pouring cream‏ (‎lightly whipped‭)
  • 2‏ ‎eggs‭ (‬lightly beaten‭)
  • 250g (4.4 oz) dark chocolate‏ (‎chopped‭)

Melt‭ the ‬250g (4.4 oz) of chopped dark chocolate‭ ‬in a bowl in the microwave or over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat and whisk in the 2‭ ‬eggs‭ (‬lightly beaten‭)‬. Add‭ ‬2‭ ‬teaspoons vanilla extract and 200ml (6.7 fl oz) pouring cream‭ (‬lightly whipped‭) ‬and whisk until smooth. Split the mixture into four equal portions in‭ ‬4‭ ‬x‭ ‬150ml (5 fl oz) dishes and refrigerate until the mixture sets. Combine‭ ‬the blueberries,‭ ‬raspberries and‭ ‬strawberries‭ (slice in ‬half‭) ‬in a medium bowl.Serve by adding‭ ‬the berries into the serving dishes and‭ ‬sprinkling with icing sugar and slivers of chocolate.

Easy Portuguese Style Tarts

  • 2‏ ‎sheets ready-rolled frozen puff pastry‭ (‬24cm x‭ ‬24cm‭)‬,‭ ‬thawed
  • 1‏ ‎piece lemon rind
  • 300ml (10.1 fl oz) milk
  • 1‏ ‎egg
  • 3‏ ‎egg yolks
  • 160g (2.8 oz) castor sugar
  • 2‏ ‎tablespoons plain flour
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to‭ ‬230 degrees C (445 degrees F)‭ ‬and set the oven shelf towards the top of the oven. Sift the sugar and flour into a bowl.‭ ‬Beat egg and the egg yolks together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Heat the milk and lemon rind in a small saucepan.‭ ‬Bring the milk to the boil,‭ then ‬remove from the heat and filter out the rind.‭ ‬Add the sugar and flour to the pan and stir well until the mixture is smooth with no lumps.‭ ‬Gradually add the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the eggs. Clean and rinse the saucepan and add the mixture to it.‭ ‬Cook using low heat,‭ ‬stirring constantly,‭ ‬until the mixture thickens. This will generally take‭ ‬about‭ ‬8‭ ‬minutes.‭ ‬Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a jug.

Cut circles of pastry and place into well greased muffin tins, with the pastry only extending about one-third up the sides.‭ ‬Prick the bottom of the pastry all over with a fork.‭ ‬Pour in the custard so that it reaches just below the top of the pastry. Place in the top of the oven and cook for about‭ 10-‬12‭ ‬minutes. The custard should be set, puffed up and slightly browned at the edges.‭ ‬Remove the tray from from oven and serve warm.

Easy‭ ‬Danish Apple Cake

  • 1‏ ‎tablespoons white sugar
  • 1‏ ‎teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 500g (8.8 oz) Golden Delicious apples
  • 175g (3 oz) self-raising flour
  • 3‏ ‎eggs
  • 175g (3 oz) castor sugar
  • 175g (3 oz) butter,‏ ‎softened

Preheat oven to‭ ‬180 degrees C (355 degrees F). Grease a‭ ‬22-centimetre (10 inch) round cake tin. Beat the sugar and butter with an electric mixer until the mixture is fluffy and.‭ In a separate bowl ‬beat in the eggs,‭ ‬one at a time.‭ ‬Add the flour to mixture and fold to combine.‭ ‬The mixture should be quite stiff. Peel and quarter the apples (after removing the core) and‭ ‬then slice thinly. Spread about half of the cake mixture over the bottom of the cake tin and add half the sliced apple in layers.‭ ‬Add the rest of the mixture and arrange the remaining apple in a circle over the top. Sprinkle the top with white sugar. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for‭ 30-‬35‭ ‬minutes.‭ I‬nsert a skewer in the center and when it comes out clean the cake is cooked. Remove the cake, cool and serve.

Berry Tart with Mascarpone

  • 2‏ ‎punnets mixed berries
  • 1‏ ‎teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 250g (0.8 oz) (4.4 oz) mascarpone
  • 200ml (6.7 fl oz) (6.7 fl oz) thickened cream
  • 80g (1.4 oz) unsalted butter,‏ ‎melted
  • 50g (0.8 oz) hazelnut meal
  • 200g (3.5 oz) sweet digestive biscuits
  • Mint leaves to garnish

To make the base crush the biscuits in a food processor.‭ ‬Transfer to a bowl and mix with the hazelnut meal. Add the butter and mix well. Transfer to a‭ ‬11-cm x‭ ‬34-cm (6 in x 15 in) rectangular tart tin with a removable base. Press the mixture evenly against the base and sides‭ ‬to make a crust. Refrigerate the tin for about one hour until the base is set. For the base,‭ ‬whip the cream till it forms soft peaks. Add the vanilla and then‭ ‬fold it through the mascarpone.‭ ‬Spoon the mixture into the crust and top with mint and berries berries. Chill before serving.

Chocolate Self-Saucing pudding

  • 1‏ ‎cup strong black coffee
  • 1‏ ‎tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2‏ ‎cup brown sugar
  • 100g (1.7 oz) dark chocolate buttons,‏ ‎melted
  • 60g (1 oz) butter,‏ ‎melted
  • 1/2‏ ‎cup milk
  • 3/4‏ ‎cup caster sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1‏ ‎cup self-raising flour,‭ ‬sifted

Preheat the oven to‭ ‬170 degrees C (340 degrees F). Combine the salt, flour and caster sugar in a bowl.‭ ‬Mix in the butter, milk and chocolate and combine well.‭ ‬Transfer to a‭ ‬1.5-litre (6 cup) size pudding dish.‭ ‬Sprinkle with cocoa and brown sugar, ‭ ‬and pour the coffee over the top. Bake in the oven for about‭ 45-‬50‭ ‬minutes. The pudding should have risen and developed a crust on the top. Serve with custard, vanilla ice-cream or‭ ‬cream.

© 2013 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • Angela Blair profile image

    Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

    Now these are all excellent -- and logical -- recipes for parties. I've had some monumental failures trying something new at the last minute! Best/Sis

  • Chris Achilleos profile image

    Chris Achilleos 4 years ago

    Fantastic hub with a variety of great dessert recipes for when your having a dinner party. Thanks for sharing!

    Voted up, useful and shared!

    Chris Achilleos

  • ohic32 profile image

    ohic32 4 years ago

    Those are some rather sumptuous and mouth watering looking desserts. I should certainly try out one or two of them when I get in the kitchen mood again.

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