Mother's Day

50 Mother's Day Desserts for Your Leading Lady

When it comes to baking for our moms, no treat is ever too sweet.

May  4, 2022
Photo by MJ Kroeger

Mother’s Day is a hard-earned holiday through years of all-consuming, exhausting motherhood. It’s not the time to hold back, especially when it comes to the sweetest part of the meal—mom deserves all the dessert she desires after what you (or your kids) put her through. Celebrate the special woman in your life by serving one of our favorite homemade Mother's Day desserts, from fruity cakes and tarts (like the Pistachio Cake With Confiture Ispahan & Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream, pictured here) to chocolate treats and lightly boozy desserts.

1. Strawberries with Lavender Biscuits

Use a food processor to throw together light, fluffy biscuits with an intoxicating whiff of fresh lavender. Split open and topped with fresh berries and cream, who could resist?

2. Chocolate Mousse Cake)

Go all out for mom and make an impressively tall cake bathed in a shiny dark chocolate glaze. The layers of moist sour cream sponge cake and whipped chocolate frosting will disappear in no time.

3. Fresh Cherry Bundt Cake

Fresh cherry purée infuses both the cake and the icing with tons of bright cherry flavor and a splash of color. Use whatever sweet cherries you can get your hands on, but dark cherries are best.

4. Chris Taylor & Paul Arguin's Bellini Pie

Champagne mousse and peach chiffon mimic the flavors of the classic brunch cocktail in this warm weather pie. They also create sweet looking pastel layers of pink and peach when sliced.

5. Meyer Lemon Eclairs

This fresh take on the classic eclair includes a lemon cream filling and a lemon glaze for the ultimate citrus experience. You can use regular lemons if you don't have access to Meyer lemons, just add a bit more sugar to taste as needed.

6. Strawberry Shortbread

These delightfully pink and buttery cookies keep their signature texture thanks to ground freeze-dried strawberries. Use any freeze-dried fruit you like for a different flavor and color.

7. Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta

For a make ahead dessert that still feels fancy, make individual panna cottas. This milk chocolate version is sweet and creamy—play with the ratio of milk to dark chocolate to suit your tastes.

8. Eric Kayser's Raspberry-Lime Macarons

Wow mom with something right out of a French patisserie window—macarons. These bright pink cookies are sandwiched with raspberry preserves and drizzled with green lime icing for extra flair.

9. Rhubarb Almond Crumb Cake

Late spring is a good time to seek out ruby-colored fresh rhubarb, and this cake is a delicious way to use it up. The moist, golden cake has pockets of tart fruit and a crisp, buttery crumble, making it equally nice at brunch.

10. Strawberry-Mascarpone Tart

A buttery crust filled with a simple mascarpone cheese filling and topped with fresh berries is a lovely spring dessert that is impressive looking enough for mom. Make it ahead and stick it in the fridge, garnishing it with fruit just before serving.

11. Crème Caramel

Few things are more simply delicious than a well-made crème caramel. Think ahead since it takes some time to make and several hours to set up in the fridge, but don’t worry. It’s worth it.

12. Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

With cocoa and chocolate chips, this cake will please chocolate-loving mothers everywhere. A simple sour cream and chocolate frosting is glossy and smooth without adding too much sweetness.

13. Fresh Cherry Slab-Pavlova (Slablova)

What do you get when you take the easy baking and serving philosophy of a slab pie and apply it to pavlova? Slablova. Top the airy pillow of meringue and whipped cream with the best-looking fruit you can find.

14. Strawberry Lime Crostata

A small bounty of early summer strawberries make a nice pairing for tart fresh lime, and anything’s good wrapped up in homemade pastry. Top with a drizzle of cream for extra richness.

15. French Silk Pie with Chocolate-Coffee (Grounds) Crust

With a chocolate and coffee crust and coffee-infused whipped cream, caffeine-loving moms will adore this smooth as silk pie. Use pasteurized eggs if raw eggs are a worry.

16. Rhubarb Cherry Hibiscus Crumble

Hibiscus adds an extra dose of tartness and bright red color to a mixture of roasted rhubarb and fresh cherries in this rustic dessert. Both the fruit and the sweet, nutty crumble topping are delicious enough on their own, but when they get together—oh boy.

17. Lemon Bar Cheesecake

Extra creamy cheesecake gets a topping of lemon curd for a sunny yet rich dessert. You can make the cheesecake up to three days in advance to make Mother’s Day stress-free.

18. Cannoli Cake

This orange-scented, chocolate-studded ricotta cake has all of the flavors or a cannoli without the mess of deep-frying. A topping of whipped cream and more chocolate chips makes it celebration-worthy.

19. Crazy-Good No-Temper Chocolate-Dipped Cherries

You only need two ingredients to make a sweet treat worthy of a fancy chocolate shop. Use the best cherries and chocolate you can find since they’re the only two ingredients.

20. Honey-Lime Strawberries & Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbet

Tart lemon-buttermilk sherbet is both creamy and refreshing, the perfect way to end a heavy meal. A topping of berries tossed with honey, lime, and a touch of cardamom creates a sophisticated combination of textures and flavors

21. Bread Pudding with Prosecco-ed Fruits

Add some sparkle to custardy bread pudding by topping it with prosecco-soaked fruit. Eggy, soft challah or brioche are the best for making bread pudding—let sit overnight to get stale.

22. Strawberry Cake for Mother's Day (and Other Days)

This cake is slightly fancier than your average snacking cake thanks to a pretty topping of fresh berries and less sweet than a frosting-topped option. Serve with hot tea or a dollop of whipped cream.

23. Roasted Pineapple-Mango Tart

This incredibly easy tart tops a shortbread cookie crust with roasted fruit for a light but flavorful dish. Serve with whipped cream, sweetened Greek yogurt, or coconut whipped cream to keep it tropical.

24. Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream Cake

Ice cream cakes shouldn’t be restricted to birthdays. This adult version with coffee ice cream, sweet cream ice cream, and chocolate cake is like a mocha in dessert form.

25. Violet’s Pineapple-Coconut Cake

The combination of moist, fruity cake and gooey caramel icing is impossible to resist. You can make the cakes up to a day or two in advance, but make the frosting and decorate just before serving.

26. Rhubarb-Strawberry-Ginger Sorbet

The classic combo of rhubarb and strawberry is joined by spicy ginger and a little prosecco for effervescent flavor and a smooth, surprisingly creamy texture.

27. Curtis Stone's Cherry-Amaretto Lattice Pie

Cherry and almond trees belong to the same genus, which may help explain why the fruit and nut pair so wonderfully together. Amaretto adds the almond flavor to this gorgeous pie.

28. Gluten-Free Tiramisu

For a gluten-free dessert, ladyfingers are made using a gluten-free flour blend before forming the outer ring of tiramisu. Soaked with coffee and rum and filled with a mascarpone filling, it’s a classic for a reason.

29. Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Angel’s food cake forms the light-as-air base for this reimagining of strawberry shortcake. The strawberries are hiding inside the cute cupcakes and the fluffy whipped cream frosting.

30. Mocha Marble Cheesecake

Coffee and chocolate-flavored batter is swirled into this classic dessert for a cheesecake that looks as good as it tastes. Allow several hours for it to properly set up before serving.

31. Bittersweet Chocolate Semifreddo

Somewhere between ice cream and a mousse, semifreddo is easy to love. This version is rich and chocolatey, begging for a dollop of whipped cream.

32. Carrot-Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The driving sweet force in this recipe comes not from sugar, but from sweet canned pineapple and not one but two kinds of raisins. Lean on this complex fruitiness for a carrot cake that puts the carrot and spice front and center.

33. Strawberry Chocolate Shortcakes

Dark chocolate shortcakes topped with crunchy sugar add a punch of flavor to an otherwise simple dish. Rely on the feel to check the doneness of the almost brownie-like biscuits, since their dark color make them tricky to judge by appearance.

34. Caramel Nut Tart with Chocolate

Right between candy and pie, this caramel nut tart can be made using whatever nuts you have lying around. Use your favorite pie dough recipe or go quick and easy with a store-bought crust.

35. Chocolate Pomegranate Truffles

Excellent chocolate is the key to stand out truffles, so be sure to use the best quality you can find. A touch of pomegranate molasses adds depth and a roll in chopped pistachios adds crunch.

36. Salty Chocolate Cheesecake

Two-ingredient filling, two-ingredient crust, and no-bake—seems too good to be true, right? Thanks to Food Editor Emma Laperruque, this dream is a reality. The fudgy filling is made with cream cheese and semisweet chocolate, while a classic cracker crust sits at the bottom.

37. Citrus Cake

Think of this one-bowl citrus cake as the epitome of Mom’s sunny disposition. And of course, brilliant life hacks…like why use two or three bowls to make a cake when you can do it all in one?

38. Salty Almond Rhubarb Crisp

Mother’s Day falls at the tail end of rhubarb season. Enter: this delightful rhubarb crisp. There are no strawberries here either—it’s rhubarb’s time to have the spotlight.

39. Éclair Cake

Any mother or mother figure who has a serious sweet tooth will love this cake inspired by the classic French pastry. It looks challenging, I know, but it’s easy enough that an eight-year-old can do it. In fact, one did.

40. Key Lime Cake From Isabel Coss

As much as I would love to take my mom on a trip to Florida, that’s not in the cards this year. What I can do, though, is bake her this bright Key Lime Pie–inspired cake.

41. Easiest Chocolate Mousse Cake

The easiest chocolate mousse cake is also one of our favorites because the base is actually a chewy cocoa brownie. Recipe developer Jessie Sheehan insists that this combination totally works.

42. Sticky Mandarin-Vanilla Pound Cake

This citrusy pound cake will go so well with afternoon tea on Mother’s Day. The mandarin marmalade topping is made with three kinds of orange—chopped mandarins, orange juice, and orange liqueur.

43. World’s Best Chocolate Cake

If Mom is a chocolate lover, she will adore this cake. After all, she’s the world’s best mom, so why not serve her the world’s best cake?

44. Martha Stewart's Pineapple-Banana Upside-Down Cake

We love this cheery twist on the old-fashioned cake. Martha swapped out the maraschino cherries and added mashed banana to the cake batter. The result is a moister, sweeter cake for Mother’s Day.

45. 3-Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Mug Cake

This is a delicious and easy cake to make with your little ones for Mother’s Day. Recipe whisperer Rebecca Firkser worked tirelessly to develop a mug cake recipe that actually tastes good, and of course she nailed it.

46. Double-Chocolate Pudding Cake

“The base is a delicious devil’s food sheet cake, poked with large holes that are filled with a homemade chocolate pudding,” writes recipe developer and Food52’s resident baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Of course, it’s not complete without a generous dollop of whipped cream.

47. Toasted Almond Chocolate Bundt Cake

This cake tastes like my mom’s favorite ice cream bar—Good Humor toasted almond—plus chocolate, because why not?

48. Cream Cake

This light-as-air cake is topped with whipped cream and berries, which are just starting to come into season when Mother’s Day rolls around.

49. Chocolate-Flecked Ricotta-Mascarpone Cheesecake

Erin Jeanne McDowell did away with the usual sour cheese in this cake and turned to its even more luxe counterparts instead—a combination of cream cheese and mascarpone.

50. Raspberry Cake Roll

Instead of raspberry jam or raspberry purée, this Swiss roll cake is studded with fresh raspberries, which will make Mom’s heart soar.

What will you be whipping up for Mother's Day this year? Let us know in the comments.

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Laurel Randolph

Written by: Laurel Randolph

recipe developer, food writer, and cookbook author

1 Comment

Carolyn C. April 17, 2023
Saved this recipe for Father's Day or a birthday, a son and husband love raspberry and chocolate. Thinking of swapping the cream in recipe for a chocolate cream. Roll cake pictured looks lovely. Will review again once made.