09/10/2013 08:43 am ET | Updated Oct 01, 2013

The 11 Hardest Desserts To Make, Ranked

Flickr: vxla

Most of us don't care what it takes to make desserts, we just want them. But aside from chocolate chip cookies and brownies, a lot of those desserts we shove into our mouths without a second thought took a lot of work to make. (And that is a serious understatement.) Many of our favorite desserts take multiple steps to make, some take hours even days, and then there are the ones that have to be intentionally -- and very carefully -- set on fire just before serving.

We've put together a list of 11 desserts that we think are the hardest, whether it's based on how long they take or how difficult they are to make. The desserts are ordered from less challenging to downright anxiety inducing. Check out which of your favorite desserts takes some serious skill to make. And let us know if we missed one!

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  • Lemon Meringue Pie
    Flickr: kennymatic
    It's not that lemon meringue pie is hard to make, it's that it takes a few labor-intensive steps -- pie crust, lemon filling and meringue. And, let's be honest, meringue can be a little scary.
  • Macarons
    Flickr: kubotake
    Okay, here we go with the egg whites. Those are also scary, but the real difficulty in making macarons is getting that perfectly smooth and shiny shell -- and the right lift in the"feet."
  • Eclairs
    Flickr: equevedov
    You might be able to find an eclair at every bakery on every street corner, but that doesn't mean it came together in no time. This unassuming pastry requires the mastery of choux pastry, as well as pastry cream and the flavored glaze.
  • Napoleons
    Flickr: yoppy
    This pastry is also known as mille-feuilles, which means thousand layers in French -- an appropriate name for this challenging dessert. It's made up of not one, but three layers (and sometimes more) of puff pastry, layered with whipped cream (or custard cream) and topped with a vanilla-chocolate glaze.
  • Baklava
    Flickr: Navin75
    Baklava isn't rocket science, but if you've ever worked with phyllo dough you understand just how much work goes into this flaky dessert.
  • Chocolate soufflé
    Flickr: Benny's Chop House
    Just the word souffle can be enough to instill fear in the most experienced cooks. It's not that this dessert takes a long time to make, but it's delicate. And temperamental too!
  • Baumkuchen
    Flickr: perry_marco
    Just look at all the layers! To make this European dessert, cake batter is poured in layers over a continuously revolving spit in front of an open flame. Each layer of cake must brown before the next one is added. The process can easily take four hours.
  • Wedding Cakes
    Flickr: petempich
    Aside from all the baking and frosting required to make a multi-layered wedding cake, this dessert is more of an architectural challenge than anything else.
  • Croquembouche
    Flickr: Merle ja Joonas
    This traditional French wedding cake is challenging in very different ways from the wedding cakes we know. It's made entirely of cream-filled puff pastries (think of these as tiny eclairs), stacked, and then decorated with caramel and spun sugar.
  • Plum Pudding
    Flickr: kepstin
    At the very least, plum pudding takes a couple of days to make. But, some recipes require weeks or even a year-long soaking process. You'd better really like this fruity, liquor-soaked, cake-like dessert if you're going to try your hand at it.
  • Baked Alaska
    Flickr: vxla
    Not only do you set this dessert on fire, but it also requires you to make a sponge cake, top it with ice cream (which you bake, but don't let melt) and then add the meringue.