By Alyssa Clough

Published on March 18, 2016

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Making things from scratch is hard, but making complicated desserts from scratch that take, well…actual skill is even harder. But if you’re up for the challenge, making a dessert that takes more effort than reading the back of a box can be really fun—even if you mess up a few times. So whether you’re an expert pastry chef or you’re simply looking to kill some time this Saturday afternoon, we have nine dessert recipes for you to tackle. 

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chocolate espresso macarons

Making your own macarons requires following directions—exactly as you read them. In addition to following instructions very carefully, you need to accept before you begin that your cookies probably won’t turn out perfect. Especially on your first try! 

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salted butterscotch crème brûlée

To make real, authentic crème brûlée correctly, you need a kitchen torch (aka a mini blowtorch). The most challenging step of making your own brûlée is making sure not to overcook it—you want the middle a bit jiggly!

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homemade crêpes

The hardest part about making crêpes is getting the timing right. They really only need to spend one minute on the skillet, which makes them easy to overcook. Having a blender to mix the ingredients helps, too.

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churros

You’ll need a pastry piper (or a heavy plastic bag) and the guts to fry your batter in order to pull off making this pastry. The crispy, sugar-cinnamon-y results will be well worth your trouble.

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cannolis

If you’re going to make homemade cannolis, you HAVE to make the shells, too! Not just the filling. The process will take time, involves kneading dough, and piping—but don’t let that scare you.

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pumpkin chai scones

Making scones isn’t that hard, but you will need a lot of ingredients and the willpower to not eat all the dough after it’s finished cooling. Though it might not be the prettiest process, the scones will turn out perfectly edible (okay, delicious) when you’re finished.

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beignets

Don’t cop out and make the three ingredient “fake” homemade version. You’ll need specific ingredients (like yeast and bread flour) so a trip to the store will be necessary. Simply whip, fry, and enjoy.

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cheesecake filled chocolate bundt cake

Bundt cakes are hard for one reason and one reason only—if you flip it over and your cake sticks to the pan, you’re screwed. It completely ruins the pretty design of the mold. Make sure to grease your pan and don’t overbake to avoid this rookie mistake.

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strawberry eclairs

If you’ve never made your own whipped cream, prepare for an arm workout. Pay attention to the directions and your eclairs should turn out just fine!

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homemade cinnamon rolls

Homemade cinnamon rolls are a doozy because they call for yeast, which requires dough to set and rise before baking (and devouring). First timers will struggle, but it does get easier! And it’s really only hard because the process is time consuming and unfamiliar. 

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s’mores pavlova

This meringue-based dish is layered, so there will be three separate recipes for each layer, making it a labor intensive dessert. The recipe writer herself says it never looks pretty when you’re in the process of making it, but the end result will be beautiful—and even more delicious.

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chocolate almond soufflé

Good luck keeping your egg yolks and whites straight—you need different numbers of both! Whip and fold just so and your soufflés will look good and taste better. Just make sure not to leave them in for too long!

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croquembouche

This dessert is uncharted territory. You literally stack pastry puffs and glue them together with caramel (which can’t be too hot or too cold). Add spun sugar for the finish touch and only make this dish if you’re ready for a true culinary adventure. 

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baked alaska

You might not want to try this recipe if this is your first attempt at a homemade dessert. The reason? You have to bake ice cream, which can easily be messed up—even for experts. It’s hot, cold, finger licking good, and not so easy to make.

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lemon meringue shortbread tartlet

This recipe calls for a lot of chilling and baking—and chilling again. It’s a three-part dessert, so prepare for a lot of dirty dishes and very satisfied tastebuds at the end.