Ahhh, dessert. The sweet ending to a good meal. The sweet ending to my Best of 2009 "miniseries." I'm ending 2009 on a sweet note. (Forgive me for that. I have a cold this week and I'm feeling...well, frankly I'm feeling a little loopy.) This was probably the hardest category to narrow down to just 10 items, because I made so many delicious desserts this year. In the end, though, I narrowed it down to the ones I would make (and have made!) again, over and over again. My mouth is watering just taking another look at all of these decadent treats!
Red velvet cheesecake: This was probably my very favorite dessert of the year. I made it for Valentine's Day and sprinkled it with cocoa powder, and I made it for Christmas and decorated it with green sprinkles in the shape of a Christmas tree. But garnish or no garnish, this is one decadent, sinful treat. It's a cheesecake with cream cheese frosting, after all, and what is there not to love about that? The answer is NOTHING. Add an Oreo cookie crust to the mix, and it's pretty much dessert heaven.
Sour cream-orange coffee cake with pecan streusel: This coffee cake was the surprise of the year for me. I thought it would be pretty tasty, but I was unprepared for how delicious it actually was. The texture is great, and the orange flavor is perfectly balanced with all of the other ingredients. This is one of those desserts in which you can taste everything individually -- the sour cream, the orange, the pecans, the brown sugar -- and they all work together in perfect harmony.
Carrot cake: This is The Pioneer Woman's carrot cake recipe, and what I love about it is that it's so straight-up and simple. There's no pineapple in it, no raisins -- none of that fancy stuff. Just carrots and cinnamon and a decadent, pecan-laced cream cheese frosting. This cake proves that, sometimes, simple really is best.
Chocolate-peanut butter cake with cream cheese and Butterfinger frosting: I made this cake pretty early on in my pregnancy, when I wanted to eat every single thing I saw, right now, please and thank you. Its title alone made me start salivating. It was a bit time-consuming to prepare and assemble, but if I remember correctly (and oh, I believe I do), it was so, so worth it. Rich, decadent, and sinfully delicious, this is one cake you simply must make in 2010.
Frozen banana bites: Couldn't be simpler or more delicious. The frozen bananas take on the texture of ice cream, which (to state the obvious) is a wonderful thing. Dip the sliced bananas in chocolate and roll them in any toppings you want: chocolate chips, peanuts, hazelnuts, crushed vanilla wafers or pretzels, miniature M&Ms. This is a wonderful little summer dessert that I'll be turning to a lot as my boys get older; it's super easy, sort of healthy, and extremely kid-friendly.
Cookies and cream cheesecake cupcakes: This is one of those desserts that immediately made me think, "D'oh! Why didn't I think of that?!" Using a whole Oreo cookie as the "crust" for these miniature cheesecakes is a brilliant idea, and the results are just as delicious as you'd imagine them to be. Try using the Christmas Oreos with red filling for a quick and festive holiday dessert, or the ones with green filling for a sweet Easter treat, or the orange-filled ones for Halloween. Or try all three. These are definitely good enough to eat every single holiday -- or day, really -- throughout the year.
Coconut chocolate pecan pie: I made this pie twice in the span of two weeks, and would probably make it again at least once a month if my husband wasn't a coconut-hater who refuses to help me eat it. One of the times I made it was for Thanksgiving, and everyone who tried it raved about it. Believe me, this rich, gooey pie deserves every bit of the praise. It's so good that it may become a Thanksgiving tradition in our family.
The best pumpkin bars ever: It seems like I'm always on the search for the "ultimate" of some food. The ultimate chocolate cake, the ultimate fried chicken, etc. etc. If only I would have capitalized on this tendency before Tyler Florence did, I'd be a rich woman. Anyway, these pumpkin bars are the ultimate pumpkin bar. They have a light, fluffy texture that still somehow manages to be moist, and the perfect amount of spice. They are, in a word, perfect, and they'll be my go-to pumpkin bar from now on.
Snickers pie: This pie is composed of a cinnamon-spiced peanut crust, a layer of chocolate fudge, a layer of Snickers bars, a layer of sweetened cream cheese, and a layer of chocolate ganache. I'll pause for a moment to let that sink in. Actually...Do I really need to even say anything else?
Sticks and stones candy clusters: They may not look like much, but these inconspicuous little clusters are packed full of delicious things: namely, chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, peanuts and pretzels. They're dangerous to have in the house because they're incredibly addictive, so I'd recommend sharing some or giving them as gifts. They'll be on my cookie trays every single Christmas -- and you can bet I'll be indulging in them quite a few other times throughout the year.
Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you for visiting my humble little corner of the internet this year. I've loved sharing with you, connecting with you, and eating with you. May all of you be blessed as we begin this new decade. I have a feeling 2010's going to be a great year for us all!