“Asking ‘what’s for dessert?’ is more than a nightly routine, it’s a personal exercise.” Truer, more beautiful words have never been written. In her new cookbook, What’s for Dessert, former Bon Appétit editor, Gourmet Makes star, and overall baking hero Claire Saffitz provides over 100 delicious answers. “Historically, dessert to me has always meant something baked,” Saffitz writes, “but this book expands that definition.”
While her first book, Dessert Person, offers recipes for showstoppers of all difficulties (I still have dreams about the tarte Tatin), Saffitz’s second book takes several factors into consideration—time, kitchen space, and budget—for recipes that are as approachable as possible. None of them require a stand mixer, only about half require a hand mixer, and plenty of them are no-bake.
From festive cookies worthy of any holiday tin to sophisticated cakes that look like they took hours to make (they didn’t), we selected five of our favorite recipes—all right answers to the age-old question: What’s for dessert?
Tiramisù-y Icebox Cake
Saffitz counts this stunner of an icebox cake as one of her favorite recipes in What’s for Dessert. Her first taste “was a light, coffee-flavored revelation.” It hinges on store-bought ladyfingers (soaked in coffee and Kahlúa) and can be made days in advance.
For a do-ahead sweet that can go from fridge to table at a moment’s notice, look no further than this mango-lassi-inspired Mango-Yogurt Mousse. Here the flavors of the beloved South Asian drink—sweet mango, tart yogurt, and floral cardamom—come together to create a refreshing dessert.
Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake
Flourless chocolate cake is good. Flourless chocolate cake with meringue is even better. Saffitz learned meringue could be baked directly on top of a cake when she saw Tartine Bakery founder Liz Prueitt’s recipe for Sweet Potato Tea Cake With Meringue. On first glance this masterpiece may seem too complicated, but remember: Meringue is nothing more than egg whites whipped with a slow and steady stream of sugar. You can do it.
Raspberry-Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Loosely based on ricciarelli, a cookie native to Siena, Italy, these vibrant macaron-like almond cookies would make a welcome addition to any cookie swap. Thanks to a double dose of raspberry—the dough is flavored with both raspberry jam and freeze-dried raspberries—each bite is sure to satisfy your resident berry lover, especially when the fresh fruit is out of season.
With a name like Lime Squiggles, how could anyone resist these melt-in-your-mouth cookies? These treats are a style of shortbread called meltaways; adding cornstarch to the dough hinders gluten development, making them wonderfully tender. Saffitz swaps butter for cream cheese, which brings bonus tang on top of the lime juice and zest. If you’re worried about transporting a Key lime pie to your next party, these cookies are the next best thing.