It's National Dessert Day, but we don't need an excuse to try a chocolate-peanut butter pretzel layer cake (or any of these six other indulgences).
A Cake That Will Make You Never Look At A Pretzel The Same Way Again
Readers of the blog Joy the Baker know that Joy Wilson has a thing for sweet and salty (and really, who doesn't?). The self-taught baker puts a clever twist on the pairing with this showstopping cake. The crunchy salinity of pretzels is just the thing you never knew a rich chocolate cake needed. Salted peanut-butter buttercream frosting is more than the icing on the cake -- it's the finishing touch that sends this dessert into OMG territory.
A Spoonable Treat For When You Need Chocolate...Right. Now.
This pudding -- which you can whip up with pantry ingredients including sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, bittersweet chocolate and vanilla extract -- is best eaten just five minutes after it comes off the stove, when it's barely set.
The Zero-Brainpower Dessert That Only Looks Complex
You can make Jell-O...or you can make Cheesecake Mousse with Blood Orange Gelee. No, really, it's that basic: These individual ramekins filled with creamy cheesecake, an orange slice and blood-orange gelatin make for a stunning presentation, but aren’t complicated to make. Plus, you can prepare them up to three days before serving.
If you don't tell anyone that these dark, rich squares are made with dates, they'll probably never know. The truth is, when you puree the pitted, dried fruits in a food processor with cacao powder, walnuts, vanilla extract, water and salt, they turn into a silky and smooth "batter" that's surprisingly brownie-like in texture. A topping made from more cacao and vanilla, plus a little maple syrup, makes an icing-like paste that you spread over the date mixture. There's no cooking necessary; these brownies just need a few hours to chill in the refrigerator.
We're used to seeing cold-weather fruits, such as apples and plums, roasted, baked and simmered. Steaming, though, is an unexpected way to keep the fruit (in this case, pears) intact while still softening and sweetening it. You cook pears in the steam created by boiling spiced apple cider; once they're tender, you reduce the cider and stir in honey for a sweet sauce.
These fun-to-say "whirligig" cookies feature a beloved pairing -- peanut butter and chocolate -- in the form of a rich, buttery dough slathered with dark chocolate. You roll it up into a log, slice into cookies (so each one has a swirl of chocolate) and bake. They're plenty tasty at room temperature but dangerously addictive when warm.
Walnuts and maple syrup make a classic, sweet-and-nutty topping that can take any ice cream, from vanilla to cinnamon, to a new level. But we're pretty sure you've never had it with whiskey. The alcohol brings a warm, toasty, honey-like flavor to the sauce that will make you want to spoon it over lots more than just ice cream (for starters: pound cake!).
A Pie That Actually Turns Out Just Like The One In The Picture
There is nothing perfect-looking about this insanely good chocolate-peanut butter pie from <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/This-Cookbook-Recipes-Real-Life/dp/1616282142?tag=thehuffingtop-20" target="_blank">This Is a Cookbook: Recipes for Real Life</a></em> -- which is why we love it so much. The crust is just crushed graham crackers. The filling is peanut butter and cream cheese. The top: chocolate sauce and salted peanuts. You're welcome.
<strong>Get the recipe: <a href="http://www.oprah.com/food/Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Pie-Recipe" target="_blank">Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie</a></strong>