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18 make-ahead dessert recipes

by Lottie Huckle

published on 13 March 2017

If you’re looking for a surefire way to take the stress out of hosting, a make-ahead dessert should be your first port of call. A sweet centrepiece, whipped from the fridge at just the right moment, is the perfect way to crown a dinner party, barbecue, or back garden gathering. From a velvety chocolate tart to a show-stopping pavlova, these eighteen desserts are prepared well in advance, leaving you plenty of time to relax with your guests.

Velvet Chocolate Torte

Velvet Chocolate Torte

A rich torte with a truly celestial texture, this one also happens to be gluten free.

From the book

Mary Berry, Lucy Young

Amalfi Lemon Tart

Amalfi Lemon Tart

Let the sweet taste and intense aroma of Italian lemons shine with this zingy bake.

No Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream

No Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream

No special machinery required for this ice cream – just a little whisking and you’ve got yourself delectably sherbity dessert. A batch of this in your freezer will ensure that you’re never without an impressive, post-dinner treat.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondant

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondant

by DK Publishing

A creamy, slightly salty peanut butter centre pairs perfectly with the rich flavour of dark chocolate in this fondant recipe.

Peach Frangipane Tart

Peach Frangipane Tart

by Linda Collister

Fruit and frangipane are baked in a sweet pastry case to create this elegant, summery tart. It keeps well, and can be made a day in advance of when you plan to eat it.

Prodigious Pavlova

Prodigious Pavlova

Billowing meringue, clouds of whipped cream and plenty of sharp, tangy fruit; this pavlova from Nigella Lawson ticks all the boxes. Make the meringue a couple of days in advance, and pile on the fruit and cream at the last minute.

Salted Caramel, Poached Pear and Chocolate Drizzle Tray Bake

Salted Caramel, Poached Pear and Chocolate Drizzle Tray Bake

by The Meringue Girls

This meringue-based tray bake looks impressive, but is a cinch to make. The combination of pear, dulce de leche, chocolate, mascarpone, and walnut is a real winner, too.

Fresh Strawberry Tartlets

Fresh Strawberry Tartlets

Let summer strawberries shine with these delicate tartlets from dessert maestro Mary Berry.

Celeste Praline Cheesecake

Celeste Praline Cheesecake

by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde

If you’re looking for something truly indulgent, this praline cheesecake, topped with silky, dark chocolate cream cheese, is the dessert for you.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cream Profiteroles

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cream Profiteroles

by Lizzie Kamenetzky

A game-changing twist on the classic profiterole, these are filled with chocolate cream and drizzled generously with salted caramel sauce.

Cooked Cream with Limoncello (Pannacotta al Limoncello)

Cooked Cream with Limoncello (Pannacotta al Limoncello)

by Mary Contini

Combine two Italian classics with this smooth, Limoncello-spiked pannacotta. It lasts in the fridge for four days, so it’s perfect for those who like to get well ahead.

Ginger Chocolate Pot

Ginger Chocolate Pot

Add a touch of spicy heat to your chocolate dessert with this make-ahead recipe from Simon Hopkinson.

The Good Cook
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The Good Cook

Twice-baked Raspberry Ricotta Cheesecake with a Thyme Crust

Twice-baked Raspberry Ricotta Cheesecake with a Thyme Crust

by Gerhard Jenne

Fragrant lemon thyme, tangy raspberries, and creamy ricotta are the hero ingredients in this impressive-looking, double-baked cheesecake.

Pecan Brownies

Pecan Brownies

by Roy Levy

Few can deny the allure of a good brownie. These particular brownies (best baked the day before you want to eat them) are made even more irresistible by the addition of sweet pecan nuts and a hint of sea salt.

Coffee Ice Cream (Glace moka)

Coffee Ice Cream (Glace moka)

by Elizabeth David

In this classic recipe from Elizabeth David, lemon zest and brown sugar are used to enhance the mouthwatering flavour of freshly roasted coffee.

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

by Raymond Blanc

A slightly lighter-than-usual créme brûlée, this recipe uses milk instead of the traditional double cream, but loses none of its heavenly texture.

Almond Tart

Almond Tart

Inspired by a Portuguese recipe, this simple tart is light, crisp, and crunchy – just the thing to nibble on with your after-dinner coffee.

Brownie Pudding with sea-salted caramel, tea, and figs

Brownie Pudding with sea-salted caramel, tea, and figs

by Dom Ramsey

A decadent fusion of brownie and sticky toffee pudding, this dessert can be made up to five days in advance and is guaranteed to please a crowd.

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