30 Nostalgic Dessert Recipes That Will Bring You Back

Banana Pudding
Photo: Brie Passano

These dessert recipes will instantly transport you to your childhood kitchen. Whether it's bread pudding, bundt cake or shortbread cookies just like Grandma used to make, these classic dessert recipes are nostalgic and delicious. Recipes like Pineapple Oatmeal Upside Down Cake and Banana Pudding are tasty, timeless and deserve a spot in your baking lineup.

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Crispy Peanut Butter Balls

Crispy Peanut Butter Balls

All you need are four simple ingredients to make healthier crispy peanut butter balls that kids and grownups will love. Make this easy recipe for a bite-size treat, on-the-go snack or easy homemade gift. You can swap the peanut butter for almond butter or even sunflower seed butter if you need a nut-free snack for school.

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Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding
Brie Passano

This layered banana dessert pairs crunchy vanilla cookies with creamy pudding. For the ultimate in banana flavor, use very ripe bananas, They're softer, sweeter and packed with flavor.

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Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

The basic recipe for this cake is very versatile and can be made with apples, pears, peaches or any full-flavored, slightly acidic fruit. The cake is best served warm. (Recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.)

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Wolf Pack Ambrosia

Kids love this simple combination of fruit, yogurt and marshmallows--and they can even help by stirring it all together.

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Rice Pudding


Made with nonfat milk, this comforting rice pudding (delicious for breakfast, too) has a lovely creamy consistency because Italian arborio rice is used.

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Pineapple Oatmeal Upside-Down Cake


Adding whole-grain oatmeal to this upside-down cake and topping it with fresh pineapple makes this diabetic-friendly dessert right-side-up.

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Spiced Apple Bread Pudding

This silky apple dessert recipe--a spiced apple bread pudding made with apple cider in place of the usual custard--gets a double hit of apple flavor from both the cider and plenty of sliced tart apples. Mace, the lacy red spice that coats the nutmeg fruit, adds a particularly lovely floral note, but you can substitute nutmeg if you don't have any mace on hand.

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Caramel-Apple Cake

How can you go wrong with the combination of apples and caramel, especially in a fall dessert? This caramel-apple cake recipe is surprisingly easy to make and requires just 20 minutes of active time--not bad for a such a good-looking treat! We call for white whole-wheat flour in this recipe; it has a milder flavor than regular whole-wheat flour and more fiber than all-purpose flour, so it's perfect for making healthier baked goods.

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Peach-Blueberry-Coconut Trifle

This stunning fruit-filled trifle is a perfect make-ahead dessert for summer barbecues and dinner parties. Resist the urge to dig in until the trifle has chilled for at least a few hours--that time lets the flavors mingle and allows the cake to absorb the rum and fruit juices.

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Coconut Peanut Butter Balls

Coconut Peanut Butter Balls

All you need are four simple ingredients to make healthier coconutty peanut butter balls that kids and grownups will love. Make this easy recipe for a bite-size treat, on-the-go snack or easy homemade gift. You can swap the peanut butter for almond butter or even sunflower seed butter if you need a nut-free snack for school.

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Spiced Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies


Renowned author and spice aficionado Lior Lev Sercarz loves these French sablé-style cookies so much, he sells a collection of five different flavors twice a year. In this variation, he uses tart amchoor (ground dried green mango) to give them a citrusy brightness. These healthy cookies will get you in the holiday spirit.

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Chocolate Chess Pie

Chocolate Chess Pie

Chocolate chess pie is simple yet extraordinary. Eggs, butter, sugar and in this instance, cornmeal as a starch, transform in the oven into a bubbly and crisp top with a custardy filling below. Here, chocolate chips and cocoa give it a deeper flavor than vanilla, and buttermilk balances the creamy custard with a little tang.

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Plum Buckle


This fruit-topped cake got its name because of the way the batter buckles as it bakes. We omitted the traditional crumb topping to let this plum cake shine.

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Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Pecan Praline Sauce

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Pecan Praline Sauce

The dessert menu at Brigtsen's restaurant in New Orleans offers "Bread Pudding du Jour," which changes with the seasons. This sweet potato version plays well during the holidays.

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Peanut Cluster Butterscotch Bites

Smooth chocolate and butterscotch contrast nicely with crunchy peanuts and sea salt in each bite of these mini dessert treats.

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Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake


Upside-down cakes have a built-in wow factor with a layer of glacéed-looking fruit. This cake includes almond flour to give it richness and added moisture, plus zest for a more intense layer of blood orange flavor.

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Nutty Raspberry Crispy Treats

A new take on a classic childhood treat that's ready in just 15 minutes. Raspberries, peanut butter and extra protein will make these crispy cereal treats a favorite new snack.

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Mixed-Berry Champagne Ambrosia

Any combination of berries or cherries (or nectarines or peaches, for that matter) can be used in this sparkling dessert. Several colors make the prettiest presentation, but single-berry ambrosia is delicious too. Nonalcoholic champagne can be substituted for the real thing.

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Chocolate Bread Pudding

This custardy dessert recipe is cooked in the slow cooker. A quick 20 minutes of prep time is all that's needed and in just a few hours you'll be serving up this sweet chocolate bread pudding.

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Old-Fashioned Fruit Crumble


Use whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have on hand to make this old-fashioned crumble. Typical crumble topping has as much as a half cup of butter--ours has just a bit of canola oil and, for richness, chopped almonds, which are full of healthy monounsaturated fats.

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Vanilla Trifle with Champagne-Soaked Fruit

What could be more elegant than champagne-soaked trifle made with real vanilla beans? Impress your guests with this easy-to-make dessert.

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Coffee-Streusel Bundt Cake

Can you really have too much of a good thing when it comes to the combination of coffee and cake? Here, we've created a lighter but still moist and rich Bundt cake, added a ribbon of hazelnut-coffee streusel inside and a drizzle of coffee glaze on top. To say it tastes great with a good cup of coffee is an understatement.

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Double Cranberry-Chocolate Bread Pudding

Perfect for the holidays, this scrumptious--yet low-calorie--dessert casserole is topped with a deep red cranberry-pomegranate sauce.

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Old-Fashioned Apple-Nut Crisp

Apples and nuts are a classic--and healthful--combination, especially when you cut back on the saturated fat that typically tops this sweet treat. Our version is just as delicious, and allows the flavor of the hazelnuts to shine through. A dollop of Vanilla Cream or scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt finishes this homey dessert beautifully.

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Bananas Foster Upside-Down Cake

The tableside flambéing of bananas Foster sure is impressive ... if someone else is making it for you. This cake has all the flavors of the New Orleans classic in easier-to-prepare cake form that's just as stunning as the original for a healthier dessert you'll be proud to serve.

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Wild Blueberry Buckle

In just 15 minutes, you can have this delicious streusel-topped blueberry cake, brimming with blueberries, in the oven. This healthy dessert could become your go-to quick dessert; just substitute whatever fruit is best at the moment for the blueberries.

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Double Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding


In this healthy chocolate bread pudding recipe, whole-wheat bread, ripe bananas, chocolate and toasted peanuts come together for a heavenly dessert. To make individual bread puddings instead of one large pan, divide the batter among 12 small oiled individual baking dishes (about 8 ounces each). Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover, sprinkle with peanuts and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more.

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Cranberry Bundt Cake

In this healthy cranberry-walnut Bundt cake recipe, Greek yogurt and shredded apple or pear keep the cake moist and are a healthy substitute for extra butter. If you want to use something other than allspice, try pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon in the filling. For a nut-free variation, omit the walnuts in the cake or use chopped dried cranberries in their place.

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Berry Trifle

Ladyfinger cookies are piled into individual trifle dishes, then topped with orange liqueur, berries, papaya cubes, and a creamy, sweet dessert topping. A sprinkle of fresh mint adds the final touch.

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Lemon-Ginger Shortbread

Lemon and ginger compliment each other perfectly in this shortbread dessert.

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