Best dessert cookbooks to keep in your kitchen, from showstopping bakes to vegan treats

·8-min read
 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

There are some foods in life that are perfect for every occasion or mood and I am firm believer that cake is one of them.

Celebrating? Drowning your sorrows? Recovering from heartbreak? Cake is the answer to them all - and that’s why knowing how to bake the perfect soft sponge with delicious fillings and awe-inspiring designs is an absolute must.

Over the years - mainly thanks to shows like The Great British Bake Off and more recently Netflix’s Is It Cake? - we’ve all been tempted to, at one point or another, don an apron and get whisking, mixing and layering in the kitchen. As summer calls out to us, there’s no better time to embrace that sweet tooth and hone your baking skills in order to impress your friends and family.

Of course, a great chef needs great tools. Before you get underway with your master bake, make sure you have everything you need to hand – there’s nothing worse than realising you forgot the flour halfway through.

We recommend ditching the old whisk and investing in either a stand mixer or handheld electronic one. A silicone baking set is a must as it makes scraping bowls and pans a lot easier than using wooden utensil and helps reduce waste. Lastly, do not forget the cake stand; a necessary piece of equipment for all bakers as it will elevate your showstopper and make it shine - even if the icing is a bit runny and the cake slightly dense.

We’ve also rounded up the best dessert focused cookbooks, so you too can try your hand at baking. Putting the recipes to the test, we embarked on a decadent Chocolate Mousse from Reynold Poernomo cookbook: The Dessert Game. With only four ingredients, it is the perfect simple yet crowd pleasing pudding we all need to try out.

Whether it’s cupcakes for the school fete, a showstopper of a birthday cake or a heavenly chocolate pudding for one (we’re not judging), we have just the book for you.

The Dessert Game

Best for: showstopping desserts

If you’re looking to take your baking to the next level, then this cookbook is an absolute must. Split into three sections, the book helps you build up skills and techniques through interesting and fun recipes. Starting at level one, there are crowd pleasing desserts such as chocolate mousse and brownies, and by level three you’ll be able to bake some seriously impressive puddings including the Pear and Yuzu Tart and the the beautifully layered Passion Berry Cheesecake Slice - a dessert that even a Parisian pastry shop would be proud of.

We love the creative twist on some of the most classic British desserts - try out Cream and Vanilla Parfait with a Strawberry Granita for an interesting and impressive take on much loved strawberries and cream.

Buy now £13.99, Amazon

Afternoon Tea at the Cutter & Squidge Bakery

Best for: afternoon tea

Clear your schedule, get your cake tins ready and invite your friends round as you’ll be baking up a storm in the kitchen with some of the most creative afternoon tea recipes out there. Written by sisters Annabel and Emily, this cookbook is a culmination of their years pioneering weird and wonderful sweet treats. Famed for their immersive afternoon tea experiences at the London flagship store, this cookbook is split into six sections - all of which pay homage to a different part of the afternoon tea experience.

There are recipes for timeless scones as well as re-imagined classics like Strawberries and Cream Biskies. If you’re feeling brave, try out some of the recipes from the Orient and Americana afternoon tea section as they feature ingenious flavour combinations. Some of our favourites include the Pineapple Chilli and Lime Cake Bar Genie’s Magic Carpet Cookies.

The additional sections on buttercreams, jams and curds are perfect if you’re looking to learn more about baking and want to put your own flavours together. All recipes use natural flavours and colouring making many of them gluten-free and suitable for vegans.

Buy now £14.43, Amazon

Magnolia Kitchen

Best for: sugar fix

Get yourself a show-stopping teatime treat from Bernadette Gee’s debut cookbook that features amazing cake recipes which will leave your guests oohing and aahing for hours. We found this book to be perfect for both novice bakers and master cake creators as the step-by-step guides are clear and there are a good variety of recipes perfect for every occasion - so no more pretending that the supermarket chocolate cake was homemade.

We absolutely loved the Raspberry White Chocolate Fudge for a quick but awe-worthy dessert and if you have some more time on your hands then the Signature Rich Chocolate Cake is a must- the beautiful flower and marble decorations make it almost too pretty to eat.

Buy now £14.47, Amazon

The Italian Bakery

Best for: Italian desserts

No cookbook roundup would be complete with a mention of the wonderful world of Italian desserts. Often overshadowed by French patisseries or British cakes, Italian dolci (sweet treats) are still an unexplored area for many of us. This cookbook includes 140 recipes that are both classic and accessible and range from cakes and pastries, to chocolates and pies.

The dolci in this book are perfect for special occasion celebrations or everyday indulgences. We found the core 50 recipes for basic baking particularly helpful with step-by-step pictures that come in handy if you are first dabbling into this style of cooking.

Buy now £26.19, Amazon

The Comfort Bake: Food that warms the heart

Best for: heartwarming food

As the name suggests, this cookbook is all about comfort food and boy are these recipes comforting. Featuring everything from nostalgic Ginger Snap Cookies to colourful Peaches and Cream Cupcakes, we love the mixture of classic and adventurous flavour combinations - and we know you will too.

The Comfort Bake is all about demystifying desserts – these puddings may not be most elaborate, but they are perfect for home bakers looking to whip up simple and tasty sweet treat for friends and family. The cookbook also contains savoury recipes such as quiches and pies which are equally as delicious.

Buy now £14.47, Amazon

Knoops Chocolate recipes through the day 2021

Best for: chocolate

Prepare for your stomach to start rumbling as you flick through this ode to chocolate with 40 drinks and 20 food recipes that all incorporate Knoops hot chocolate flakes. From morning Chocolate Biscuits to an afternoon retro Knickerbocker Glory, this book has you covered on how to incorporate chocolate in every meal from sunrise to sunset.

The decadent party platters are an absolute must if you’re hosting big events as it’s the perfect combination of sweet and savoury that will appeal to everyone. Or get experimental in the kitchen with Chocolate Chilli con Carne for a twist on a classic weeknight dinner meal. Forget the subpar coffee chain hot chocolates and indulge in the proper art of creating thick, luxurious and flavoursome pouring chocolate that can be enjoyed hot and cold.

Buy now £20.00, Waterstones

The Cadbury Creme Egg Cookbook

Best for: fun desserts

Go crazy and eggsperiment (see what we did there) with this bright and bold cookbook that pays homage to the sickleist (but tastiest) chocolate of all time - the Creme Egg.

With 60 recipes, vibrant pictures and split into biscuits, cakes, deserts and fun snacks, this book shows how you can indulge in Creme Eggs any time of the day (yes even at breakfast). As a Creme Egg fanatic, I have tried many of these recipes and some of the best include doughnuts, ice cream and of course the chocolate cake - all of which feature the Cadbury favourite.

Buy now £3.00, Amazon

Vegans Deserve Better than a Fruit Salad

Best for: vegans

Hosting vegan friends over the years, I must admit to feeling guilty when it comes to creating subpar desserts for them – usually a fruit salad – whilst the rest of the party tuck into an indulgent and delicious pudding. That is until now.

This cookbook is informative, humorous and accessible to vegans and non-vegans alike. With 60 recipes that cover classic seasonal delicacies (everything from Eton Mess to Sticky Toffee Pudding). vegans will no longer be left with boring dishes to end the night.

Recipes are simple to follow thanks to the clear ingredient lists and useful chapter split that ranges from basic to expert level desserts such as Iced Strawberry Soufflé.

We recommend the Chocolate Fondant with Mango Coulis for a dessert that will please everyone and undoubtedly cause gasps of shock as your guests whisper: is this really vegan?

Buy now £9.85, Amazon

The Last Bite: A Whole New Approach to Making Desserts Through the Year

Best for: seasonal baking

What award-winning pastry Chef Anna Higham doesn’t know about baking is not worth knowing. This revolutionary dessert cookbook covers everything from skills and seasonings, to techniques and tasting. With over 150 recipes set alongside beautiful illustrations and photographs, this cookbook will soon become your baking bible as you learn more about the food you cook with and how to construct your own desserts.

Split seasonally, there are berry recipes in summer, apples and pears in autumn, citrus fruits in winter and nuts and grains in spring. Absolute must makes include the Sage Meringues, Burnt Butter Cakes and Blackcurrant Leaf Oil. Prepare for your culinary skills to be taken up a notch, or five, with this cookbook.

Buy now £16.76, Amazon

How to Bake Anything Gluten Free

Best for: gluten-free recipes

Is there anything better than tucking into your favourite cake or dessert after a long day? Well this cookbook will help turn all those yummy treats into gluten-free goodies that will blow you, your friends and family away. This cookbook includes recipes for brownies, rainbow cakes and red velvet cupcakes that amazingly are also dairy-free and veggie.

Buy now £13.75, Amazon

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