20 Beautiful Easter Desserts
Your Easter celebration may be scaled down, but that’s no reason to skip dessert.
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Though many of us will be having more intimate Easter brunches and Easter dinners than we hoped for, we don’t have to cancel plans for sweet finales. Here are lovely seasonal Easter dessert recipes — most of which don’t serve a big crowd. A number of these freeze well, and many of them you can make with pantry ingredients. But they promise to stun.
Make dessert fun, not stressful
For those of you juggling work and unanticipated homeschooling, we sought out some simpler desserts that still make a meal an occasion and dish up that “wow” factor we all need now. If you have kids, invite them to help you out. Or give them an assignment to make the recipe of their choice. If there’s anything young cooks get excited about, it’s making colorful sweets.
Try something new
One commodity many of us have now is time. If you are spending more hours in the kitchen these days (and loving it), now’s your opportunity to try project-oriented baking that’s a little more involved.
Plan ahead for smooth sailing
These recipes can all be made ahead of time, and a lot of them should be made ahead of time, allowing you to carve dedicated baking sessions from the routines you’ve made for yourselves.
Swap if you have to, splurge if you like
We realize you may not have (or be able to get) all the ingredients a recipe calls for, so we offer suggestions for substitutions when appropriate. If you’ve always kept a well-stocked pantry, why not dip into it now? There will never be a better time to put that luxurious vanilla bean to use, or that fancy chocolate. In this backwards season of renewal, every chance we have for making the ordinary extraordinary matters that much more.
Orange Olive Oil Cake
Fruity olive oil and citrus are a match made in heaven. The elegant simplicity of a Bundt cake suits any Easter brunch or seasonal dessert table. Pair this with ice cream or good, thick plain yogurt on the side. Olive oil cakes always taste best after a day of mellowing, so try to bake this in advance. Extra slices freeze beautifully.
Easter Egg Sugar Cookies
Making beautifully decorated sugar cookies can be easy, as this recipe proves, and it's a project you can return to in a couple of passes, helpful in case you're distracted these days. You'll cut out and bake the cookies, then let them cool before applying the icing (made with meringue powder so it sets up nicely).
Coconut Cream Pie
Though it’s not ubiquitous with Easter, pie is suitable for any springtime celebration. Clouds of airy whipped cream and toasted coconut beguile. If you’re intimidated by making pie crust, fear not: This recipe boasts a tasty crust made with crushed animal crackers. You could substitute graham crackers or Nilla wafers, if need be.
Easter Swiss Roll
Let’s face it, nothing says Easter like pastel food coloring. If you want to embrace the rainbow, this Easter cake delivers old-fashioned quaintness with a modern twist. The whipped cream cheese filling gets a smattering of the Easter candy of your choice. You’ll get the best results using gel paste food coloring, but if you have the more common liquid kind on hand, use that, and don’t overdo it; it’ll thin out the batter too much.
Coconut Milk Pound Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Continuing the theme of Easter treats made with pastel food coloring, this lovely layer cake features passion fruit curd between the layers, but if you can't find it, lemon curd or any jam will do nicely. Cloak it in a luscious frosting with a texture reminiscent of buttercream, but made with cream cheese, butter, and cream of coconut.
Chocolate Easter Nests
Not so much a dessert as delectable candy holders, these are still addictively edible in only the way salty pretzels and chocolate can be. There’s an extra-realistic variation using shredded wheat cereal, too. Gather your kids if you like, and let them get messy constructing these. No matter who makes them, they look way more like real nests than molded Rice Krispie treats.
Carrot Bundt Cake
The brilliance of this cake is partly its simplicity: It’s an unfrosted Bundt cake, so you won’t be faced with the temptation of eating leftover gooey layer cake for breakfast days on end (unfrosted cake: that’s a health food, right?). Plus if icing a cake is tricky for you, you get a respite here: Click through to the video to see how pretty it is with only powdered sugar on top.
Frosting for Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Okay, so you’re still dreaming about frosting. If you’re into gluten-free baking or Paleo baking you may already have the coconut oil and coconut butter you need for this carrot cake frosting made without cream cheese. In fact it’s a dessert without butter at all; despite the name, it does include a delicious recipe for spiced carrot cupcakes.
Rhubarb Tarte Tatin
Spring means rhubarb, and a gooey-buttery upside-down tart is a splendid way to showcase it. If you’re used to mixing strawberries with rhubarb, give solo rhubarb a shot and you’ll see that this crimson dessert vegetable easily holds its own. Like a classic tarte tatin made with apples, you make a caramel in a skillet that becomes both the topping and the sauce; pitch in the rhubarb; top it with a buttery pastry. The pastry calls for eggs, which act as a buffer, making the dough easier to handle and less prone to getting tough from overworking.
Top it as you like (try raspberry or strawberry sauce, or even use up that bag of frozen cranberries still kicking around in your freezer). Or just serve it as-is: this NYC deli-style cheesecake is a keeper, and a hit with everyone who tastes it. Creamy and rich, it requires at least an overnight chilling, and is best suited for those who plan and act ahead. Feeding a small party? Freeze half and get two desserts from one.
If indulgence is not what you’re looking for, try this. It’s sunny and refreshing, and exactly the color of an egg yolk. Simple syrup makes it especially smooth. If you can’t find decent fresh mangos, use 4 to 5 cups diced frozen mango for the 4 fresh mangos this calls for.
Easter Egg Nest Cupcakes
Playfully trompe l’oeil yet tasteful, these sweet little Easter cupcakes wink at a classic coconut cake, but without the full production. They’re ideal for less experienced bakers and youthful kitchen assistants. Tuck whatever candies in the nest you want to: jelly beans, malted eggs, or M&Ms would all work wonderfully. (Or try a few fresh blueberries for a hummingbird nest!) Don’t like coconut? Use green or brown sprinkles to form a nest instead.
No-Bake Lime Cracker Pudding
If you love the texture of a classic cookie-layered banana pudding and the taste of key lime pie, this unexpectedly delicious dessert combines the two. And with only five ingredients! You make a key lime pie-style filling, layer it with Ritz crackers, and stick it in the icebox overnight. Skeptical about salty crackers in a sweet dessert? They really do make the whole thing come together — and just like banana pudding, the longer it sits, the softer they get. This is perfect for people who love dessert, but can't be bothered with the actual baking.
Vegan Meyer Lemon Coconut Cake
Even if you’re not vegan, it’s fun to try your hand at vegan baking, which turns out to be every bit as satisfying as conventional baking. The coconut here is mostly in the form of flavor-packed canned coconut milk. Mild and flowery Meyer lemons match beautifully with olive oil — but you could substitute a 50/50 mix of regular lemon and orange zest of you can’t find Meyers.
Surprise Inside Bunny Cake
No gimmicky pans required! Part of the magical magnetism of this loaf cake is the mystery of how the perfectly shaped bunnies get in the vanilla cake. The secret? You bake a small chocolate sheet cake, cut out bunnies with a cookie cutter, and stack them in the loaf pan to bake with the vanilla batter on top. This one takes time, since you’re making two cake recipes, but what satisfaction when you cut into the first slice!
Flourless Balsamic Raspberry Chocolate Torte
Balsamic vinegar and chocolate? You’d be surprised at how well they go together, particularly with fruit in the mix. The dessert is gluten-free, and can be dairy-free if you swap a little neutral oil for the butter. The recipe calls for two 4-1/2-inch springform pans, but you could bake it in one 9-inch pan, if that’s what you have; just keep a close eye on the baking time.
Grapefruit Panna Cotta
Tangy ruby grapefruit and a light but creamy panna cotta won’t push you over the edge after a dinner of, say, ham and scalloped potatoes. Panna cotta is Italian for cooked cream, and it’s set with plain gelatin instead of eggs or cornstarch, as a pudding would be. This recipe is best with a vanilla bean, but if you don’t have one (or don’t want to spend $12 on one), add a teaspoon of vanilla extract in step 4.
Lemon Curd and Pistachio Meringue Roulade
The yolks go into the lemon curd, the whites go into the meringue, and smiles go on the faces of anyone who sees this on a pretty platter. You’ll have extra lemon curd after filling the meringue, but you can freeze it, or just keep it in the fridge for a few weeks and spread it on scones or toast. No pistachios? Try finely chopped toasted almonds instead. The recipe calls for caster sugar, as the Brits call it, but you may know it as good old granulated sugar.
Strawberry Pretzel Bars
Retro-tastic. Sometimes all you want is something familiar and irresistible. You may not have encountered this jiggly-sweet-salty-cool-creamy concoction in the ‘80s, but after a taste, I challenge you to turn it down. This makes a 9 x 13 pan, which means you get to enjoy it for lunches, too (or breakfast!).
Leftover Chocolate Mousse Pie
Staring down an Easter basket overflowing with chocolate eggs and more than one chocolate Easter bunny? Put that chocolate to use in this choose-your-own adventure pie. All those bunnies and eggs — solid or hollow, dark or milk — come together for a make-do mousse that’s sure to delight.
More Easter recipes, and recipes for quarantine cooking
On Yummly you'll find every recipe to fill your Easter table, including extra-doable options for an Easter brunch spread, baked ham, and scalloped potatoes. We're with during the coronavirus to make home cooking as easy and flexible as possible, and you'll find plenty of ideas in our quarantine cooking collection.