Rustic Blueberry and Nectarine Tart

Photo: Gentl & Hyers

A Summery Tart That's Meant to Be Imperfect
If you aren't much for rolling out dough, you'll love this low-maintenance take on the fruit-in-a-crust dessert. Its base is a mixture of flour, butter, sugar, heavy cream and eggs that's very forgiving; if it begins to tear when you roll it out, simply press the pieces back together as you go. Pile in fresh blueberries and chunks of nectarines, and then fold the crust edges up before baking (if the tart ends up being more square-, octagonal- or trapezoid-shaped, think of that as added character). Serve it at room temperature, ice cream optional.

Get the recipe: Rustic Blueberry and Nectarine Tart
Tangy Lemon Bars

Photo: Johnny Miller

Lemon Bars That Only Look Delicate
Sweets stylist and party planner Amy Atlas designs and creates dessert tables for all kinds of high-end parties, so she has quite a few tricks for getting cakes to stay gorgeous and cupcakes to keep their frosting during transport. Her lemon bars are a particular triumph: They seem fragile but can actually handle a bumpy car ride better than you'd think, she says. Another plus: You can make these tangy treats up to a week ahead of time (and store them in the fridge).

Get the recipe: Tangy Lemon Bars
Cherry-Olive Oil Polenta Cake

Photo: Sang An

A Cherry Dessert You Haven't Tried Before
This just-sweet-enough, no-frosting-needed cake is dotted with bright Bing cherries, but that's not the only thing that's unexpected about it. It's also made with polenta, aka cornmeal, which has a subtle crunch, and olive oil, so it has an unbelievably moist texture and lightly fragrant flavor. The real reason to love this dessert, though, is that it tastes better a day or two after you make it, once the oil has had some time to infuse the rest of the cake's ingredients with its fruity flavor.

Get the recipe: Cherry-Olive Oil Polenta Cake
Magic Caramel Bars

Photo: Alison Gootee

The Secretly Simple Layer Bars
Bar cookies are a godsend for parties, since you can cut them into whatever size pieces you'd like, depending on the number of guests, and they can keep for days in an airtight container. These caramel bars go a step further toward making your life easier, since the ingredients do most of the work for you. It looks as if you've layered them just so, with a buttery crust on the bottom, followed by chocolate chips, espresso powder, macadamia nuts and coconut caramel sauce—when really you've just piled everything up in the pan, slipped it into the oven and let the pieces slide into a perfect jumble.

Get the recipe: Magic Caramel Bars
Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies

Photo: William Meppem

Extra-Indulgent Brownies with a Trick for Easy Cutting
As if a batter rich with semisweet chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate and instant coffee weren't enough to make our hearts sing, this recipe has you stir in about 50 chopped Oreo cookies. And making these treats the night before your event works to your advantage, since it's easier to cut them into squares if you line the pan with foil before pouring in the batter. Once they're baked, chill the entire pan before you lift out the brownies and slice them.

Get the recipe: Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies