Indulgent Dessert Recipes You Need In Your Life

Even the most disciplined dieters need a cheat day every now and then, and there's no better way to go off your plan than with a dessert that's so indulgent it practically makes you moan. Don't judge your desserts on how pretty they are, or how hard they are to make — judge them on whether you can stop yourself after the first, second, and third bites. If you can't, then you know you're experiencing a real treat. These indulgent desserts are just the kind of thing you need in your life — every now and then, of course.

Baked Alaska


Baked Alaska, a cake and ice cream dome encased in sweet meringue that gets torched under the broiler right before serving, was inspired by the acquisition of the parcel of land that would eventually become the state of Alaska in 1867. Back then, it took a team of chefs and a lot of ingenuity to create a dish that was both hot and cold all at once.

These days, with the help of a kitchen torch, you can put together a Baked Alaska without (much) sweat or tears. These honey-flavored mini versions of Baked Alaska start with home-churned ice cream and brown sugar pound cake as the delicious base for the dessert. Swiss meringue, which is heated and whipped to peaks on the stove, takes the egg whites to a safe temperature. If you want to save a few steps, buy your favorite cream and use a good quality bakery-made pound cake.

Crepes Suzette

Crepes Suzette are one of the most famous French desserts, and amazingly take practically no time to prepare. Most of the prep time is devoted to letting the batter rest, so that flavors can develop and the resulting crepes will be tender. The main flavor that drives this dish is delivered in a flambéed orange-brandy sauce that each crepe is dredged in. Back in the day, high-end restaurants commonly featured this dessert on their menu and made a big show of serving it. The server would make the crepe and assemble the dessert right before you — a tradition that started when the first Crepes Suzette was prepared for the Prince of Wales in 1895. Crepes Suzette are a classic, but once you get started, you will probably think of all kinds of ways to serve up this impressive dessert.

Chocolate ganache desserts

Let's take a minute to talk about ganache. This one chocolate concoction is the stuff of some of the most indulgent desserts ever. Ganache is all silk and smoothness as icing for cakes, sauce for ice cream and the base for luscious chocolate truffles. With attention to a few rules of thumb, ganache is very easy to make. You don't want to create bubbles when you make ganache, especially if you plan to pour a smooth as ice ganache glaze over an opera cake, so stir gently with a whisk.

Once you've made a ganache, your indulgent options are endless. Glaze a cake like this one from the Silver Palate Cookbook. Let ganache take center stage as the filling for a chocolate tart. Made with a rich cocoa crust for a double whammy of chocolate, this tart is like eating a slice of chocolate truffles.

Cherries Jubilee

It seems whenever folks wanted to impress royalty, they set food on fire. Cherries Jubilee, made by sauteing fresh cherries, brandy and butter together and then igniting it, was first made for Queen Victoria. Originally, the liquored-up cherries were served alone and that was indulgent enough, but it later became popular to serve those boozy cherries over ice cream. Like Crepes Suzette, this was a dessert you ordered at fine restaurant and was either brought out to you all aflame or prepared right before you at the table.

If you make this dessert at home, fresh, sweet cherries are the right pick; try Bing or Lapin. You'll need to stem and pit the cherries, a job that can get tedious unless you have a cherry pitter or use this hack with a paper clip. Kirsch, a cherry liqueur is the most common alcohol called for in recipes, but you can vary the brandy. Whatever you do, use a good one — it will impact the sauce that develops as the cherries and other ingredients cook together. If you aren't an ice cream fan, serve the cherries with pound cake and whipped cream, or even a fudge brownie.

Croquembouche and Paris-Brest

Croquembouche is a tower of caramel-dipped cream puffs. It's a statement dessert often served for special occasions like Christmas and weddings. Pâte à Choux, the dough for the cream puffs is made by stirring flour and milk in a pot on the stovetop and then removing the mixture from the heat and beating in eggs one at a time until a sticky batter-like dough forms. The dough can then be piped or spooned into small mounds and baked in the oven. As the dough bakes it puffs up into crisp, almost-hollow shells and become the perfect vehicle for sweet (or savory) fillings. The cream puff dough can also be piped into a large ring and baked to another indulgent French dessert called a Paris-Brest. This dessert is filled with a praline cream and often adorned with nuts.

Caramel desserts

When sugar is cooked until it browns, you end up with caramel. With the addition of cream and sometimes butter, caramelized sugar becomes caramel sauce. Adding salt takes the caramel to the next level and is the flavor profile for this salted-caramel layer cake. The cake makes the most of the salty caramel flavor with a gooey sauce between the vanilla sponge cake layers, and a buttercream with salted-caramel sauce beaten into the fluffy frosting.

The sugars in milk also turn to caramel when slowly cooked. The result, Dulce de Leche, a Mexican caramel jam traditionally made with goat's milk, has a slightly tangy flavor. Try it sandwiched between cookies.

Fruit cobbler

I'm sure a humble cobbler doesn't come to mind when you think of decadent desserts, but when fruit and berries are at their peak, it's a downright indulgence. Try this berry cobbler or this Jaime Oliver's take on peach cobbler when the fruit is in season. When you bake sweet, buttery biscuit dough on top of the fresh fruit mixture, the topside of the biscuits get golden and crunchy, and the underside is reminiscent of the best dumplings — soft and infused with the fruit juices and flavor. If that's not enough, most cobblers get the addition of a scoop of rich ice cream to boot.

Chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse is light in texture and deep in rich, chocolate flavor. Serve it on its own with a little whipped cream, or make a pie or cake featuring mousse. To make chocolate mousse, you must complete three tasks: melt chocolate, beat heavy cream, and whip egg whites — and you must do them all with care. You've got to keep an eye on the chocolate while its melts so it doesn't seize up. When beating the egg whites, make sure not to go overboard or they won't mix smoothly into the mousse. Once these steps are complete, the components are gently folded together so the mouse doesn't deflate.


Millefeuille, also called a Napoleon, is made by stacking layers the flaky baked puff pastry with vanilla pastry cream in between. Making your own puff pastry isn't necessary, but if you purchase ready-made, choose a product that uses real butter. Try out this recipe if you don't decide to head out to the nearest French bakery to sample one immediately. For a tangy twist on a Napoleon, try this one with a passion fruit filling.