Hand-carved wooden spoons and age-old pink multipurpose pans might get all the attention on Instagram, but the kitchen’s real unsung hero is the 9-by-13 baking sheet. They’re cheap, easy to transport (just cover the top with foil). ) and you can serve it straight from the plate, whether you’re sitting around a table or on a picnic blanket. They’re particularly good for desserts that cater to a crowd, like cakes, pies, brownies, and bars. Just in time for summer barbecues, here are 13 of our best 9-by-13 desserts.
Someone wise once thought of combining Rice Krispies treats with peanut butter, chocolate and caramel shavings, and lo and behold, scotcheroo was born. This version of Samantha Seneviratne calls for bittersweet chocolate and a pinch of flaked salt to balance out the sweetness.
Imagine revealing this bubblegum pink cake to squeal with delight at your next picnic. Kiera Wright-Ruiz adapted it from Alana Kysar’s “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes From Hawai’i”, a cookbook of traditional Hawaiian dishes. Pink guava concentrate may be harder to find outside of Hawaii and California, but you can also use white guava concentrate or 100% guava juice.
Revenue: Hawaiian Guava Cake
Also known as Coconut Dream Bars and Hello Dolly Bars, these Samantha Seneviratne treats are packed with chocolate, coconut, nuts and crackers. A layer of condensed milk caramelizes as it bakes, keeping all the ingredients together so you can taste these bars by hand.
Revenue: magic cookie bars
Christopher Thé’s famous Instagram cake, made from almond dacquoise, ripe watermelon and rose-flavored cream topped with strawberries, inspired this beautiful, delicately flavored dessert by Tejal Rao. His version is decidedly less demanding, but no less impressive.
This simple lemon leaf cake from Yossy Arefi is an ideal backdrop for sweet summer fruit. The recipe makes enough frosting for a thin layer, but double it if you like fluffy swoops.
Revenue: Lemon Leaf Cake with Buttercream Icing
Marshmallow Butter Mochi is the ideal dessert for potluck because its crumbly, crumbly top requires no adornment. (You can always add the passion fruit ombré glaze for extra splurge.) This version, by Genevieve Ko, calls for coconut milk for extra richness, but you can use regular milk or evaporated milk instead.
Revenue: mochi butter
Like a chic chocolate mousse that travels well, these no-bake (!) bars by Samantha Seneviratne are light and airy, yet rich and chocolaty. Don’t forget to bring a can of whipped cream to shake on top of individual servings.
Revenue: No-bake chocolate mousse bars
Cream cheese and a splash of lemon juice in the batter means these cheerful buttercream-covered bars, which Margaux Laskey adapted from “American Girl Cookies,” aren’t cloying, but just right. Color the frosting and experiment with sprinkles according to your mood and the holiday.
Revenue: sugar cookie bars
This exquisitely simple southern cake-style cobbler from Alex Ward can be made with fresh or frozen peaches, and you don’t need any special equipment; just a bowl, a pan, a baking sheet and a spoon. A word of warning: the batter will not completely cover the bottom of the pan, but will rise up the sides of the pan and up the peaches as it bakes, producing a crispy exterior and a soft interior. If you prefer more cake to the peaches, double the dough, but increase the cooking time accordingly.
Revenue: Peach pie
Gloriously creamy and fluffy, this tres leches cake by Samantha Seneviratne will have your guests swooning. It’s perfectly wonderful on its own, but you can also garnish it with some fresh summer fruit.
Revenue: tres leches cake
When lazy, hot summer days are in full swing, it’s all about riding, not cooking. That’s exactly what Ali Slagle did in this brilliant ice cream cake that calls for layers of Oreos, store-bought ice cream and ice cream sandwiches, then finishes it all off with a drizzle of Pollock-style Magic Shell.
Here’s more no-bake glow from Samantha Seneviratne! Most cheesecakes contain eggs, but this one doesn’t contain eggs and uses a combination of cream cheese, whipped cream, and Greek yogurt, which means it’s lighter and airier than traditional cheesecake.
Revenue: No-bake cheesecake bars
For those of us who can’t decide between brownies or chocolate chip cookies, there are cookies. Yes, you have to make two different beaters for this Samantha Seneviratne mash-up, but they come together in the same pot without special equipment. A reader added peanut butter between the layers, and we love her for it.