5 Scrumptious Desserts You Can Make Ahead And Bring Anywhere

06/09/2015 08:24 am ET | Updated Jun 09, 2015

No matter if you're walking down the block or driving an hour, when you get to the party, these unfussy treats will still look -- and taste -- great.

By Lynn Andriani

  • A Summery Tart That's Meant To Be Imperfect
    Gentl & Hyers
    If you aren't much for rolling out dough, you'll love this low-maintenance take on the fruit-in-a-crust dessert. Its base is a mixture of flour, butter, sugar, heavy cream and eggs that's very forgiving; if it begins to tear when you roll it out, simply press the pieces back together as you go. Pile in fresh blueberries and chunks of nectarines, and then fold the crust edges up before baking (if the tart ends up being more square-, octagonal- or trapezoid-shaped, think of that as added character). Serve it at room temperature, ice cream optional.

    Get the recipe: Rustic Blueberry and Nectarine Tart
  • Lemon Bars That Only Look Delicate
    Johnny Miller
    Sweets stylist and party planner Amy Atlas designs and creates dessert tables for all kinds of high-end parties, so she has quite a few tricks for getting cakes to stay gorgeous and cupcakes to keep their frosting during transport. Her lemon bars are a particular triumph: They seem fragile but can actually handle a bumpy car ride better than you'd think, she says. Another plus: You can make these tangy treats up to a week ahead of time (and store them in the fridge).

    Get the recipe: Tangy Lemon Bars
  • A Cherry Dessert You Haven't Tried Before
    Sang An
    This just-sweet-enough, no-frosting-needed cake is dotted with bright Bing cherries, but that's not the only thing that's unexpected about it. It's also made with polenta, aka cornmeal, which has a subtle crunch, and olive oil, so it has an unbelievably moist texture and lightly fragrant flavor. The real reason to love this dessert, though, is that it tastes better a day or two after you make it, once the oil has had some time to infuse the rest of the cake's ingredients with its fruity flavor.

    Get the recipe: Cherry-Olive Oil Polenta Cake
  • The Secretly Simple Layer Bars
    Alison Gootee
    Bar cookies are a godsend for parties, since you can cut them into whatever size pieces you'd like, depending on the number of guests, and they can keep for days in an airtight container. These caramel bars go a step further toward making your life easier, since the ingredients do most of the work for you. It looks as if you've layered them just so, with a buttery crust on the bottom, followed by chocolate chips, espresso powder, macadamia nuts and coconut caramel sauce -- when really you've just piled everything up in the pan, slipped it into the oven and let the pieces slide into a perfect jumble.

    Get the recipe: Magic Caramel Bars
  • Extra-Indulgent Brownies With A Trick For Easy Cutting
    William Meppem
    As if a batter rich with semisweet chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate and instant coffee weren't enough to make our hearts sing, this recipe has you stir in about 50 chopped Oreo cookies. And making these treats the night before your event works to your advantage, since it's easier to cut them into squares if you line the pan with foil before pouring in the batter. Once they're baked, chill the entire pan before you lift out the brownies and slice them.

    Get the recipe: Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies

  • 1 Another Very Important Reason To Stock Up On Hot Dog Buns
    Stacey Cramp
    We love lobster rolls for their perfect pairing of high- (lobster) and low-end (hot dog bun) ingredients. This recipe for the quintessential Maine sandwich, from the new book Real Maine Food, by the founders of Luke's Lobster, demonstrates just how delicious the lobster roll can be, if you follow two key points. First, use split-top buns. They sit upright on a flat bottom and have bread-y (rather than crusty) sides, so you can butter and grill the outside to the perfect crispness. Second, don't mix the lobster meat with anything; you want its delicate flavor to shine. Spread mayo on the inside of the buns, drizzle butter over the meat, sprinkle seasoning on top and that's it.

    Get the recipe: Luke's Lobster Roll
  • 2 The Grain Salad You'll Eat All Week
    Katie Quinn Davies
    We're big fans of any recipe that lists ingredient quantities in easy, low-stress, nonspecific language (as in, "1 large handful of basil"), which is why this one from Katie Quinn Davies' What Katie Ate on the Weekend, with its just-eyeball-it amounts of herbs and greens, caught our eye. Aside from that, though, it's a terrific side salad that can bolster any meal, from grilled chicken to beef kebabs. The whole-grain farro, cherry tomatoes and feta will hold up remarkably well; so, if you make this early in the week, you can enjoy the leftovers for days.

    Get the recipe: Farro with Feta, Lemon and Pine Nuts
  • 3 The Grilled Patty That Leaves Room for Dessert
    Dreamstime.com / Sarsmis
    This lighter, brighter burger from Nong's Thai Kitchen, by Nongkran Daks, is a white-meat twist on the classic. It calls for ground chicken or pork, which you mix with a garlic-cilantro Thai sauce that gives the leaner meat a deep umami flavor. You can serve these patties on buns with a few slices of tomato, cucumber and red onion; or, enjoy them the traditional Thai way: with a side of steamed rice.

    Get the recipe: Thai Chicken Burgers with Thai Pesto
  • 4 A New Way To Do Veggie Tacos
    Hirsheimer and Hamilton
    Fresh corn usually shows up in a Mexican meal in salsa form, but chef Rick Bayless, whose new book is More Mexican Everyday, uses it as a taco filling, reminding us of just how versatile this farm-stand staple can be. He combines the kernels with zucchini, cooks them until they're brown (which just takes a few minutes) and stirs in roasted poblano chilies and cream. Spoon everything into soft tacos and sprinkle some crumbled cheese on top, and you've got a delicious and filling warm-weather meal.

    Get the recipe: Creamy Zucchini, Corn and Roasted Poblanos
  • 5 The Snack You'll Even Want For Breakfast
    Quentin Bacon
    With their thick "walls" and few seeds, Roma tomatoes make an ideal topping for bruschetta. Their rich flavor needs little embellishment, making this ridiculously easy recipe, from the new paperback edition of Lucinda's Rustic Italian Kitchen, by Lucinda Scala Quinn, a no-brainer. All you do is combine the tomatoes with olive oil, sliced basil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper and put the mixture over toast for an instant-gratification appetizer, lunch, dinner accompaniment -- or, yes, breakfast.

    Get the recipe: Bruschetta Pomodoro
  • 6 Double-Duty Pops
    Tara Striano
    These prosecco-blueberry-lemon Popsicles from Maria del Mar Sacasa's new Summer Cocktails are fantastic on their own -- the clean, fresh taste of the prosecco and lemon nicely complements the juicy, slightly sour blueberries -- but you can also serve the pops in glasses of sparkling wine and enjoy a frosty (and boozy!) dessert. As the pops melt, they'll add flavor and keep drinks cool.

    Get the recipe: Prosecco-Blueberry-Lemon Pops
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