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43 Heirloom Desserts Made With Brown Sugar

Many old-fashioned desserts start with brown sugar. It adds a natural, earthy sweetness to the body of a cake, a crunch to the crumb topping on a pie or cobbler, and velvety, sinful richness to a caramel sauce.

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Granny’s Gingerbread Cake with Caramel Sauce

The rich molasses and spice flavor of this old-time dessert is complemented with a buttery caramel sauce. —Joy Sparks, Muskegon, Michigan

(If your brown sugar is rock hard, we have tricks for how to soften brown sugar.)

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Brown Sugar Pound Cake

This tender pound cake is the first one I mastered. You'll want to eat the browned butter icing by the spoonful. It tastes like pralines. —Shawn Barto, Winter Garden, Florida
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Apple Roly-Poly

Apple Roly-Poly isn't very fancy, but it's genuine Down East fare. It came from my grandmother. With 13 children plus the men at Grandpa's sawmill, she had to do lots of cooking each day! —Megan Newcombe, Cookstown, Ontario
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English Rhubarb Crumble

When I met my English husband and served him just the crumble, he said it was fantastic but really needed a custard sauce over it. We found a terrific sauce recipe from England, and now the pair is perfect together. I wouldn't serve it any other way. —Amy Freeman, Cave Creek, Arizona
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Apple Pandowdy

This apple pandowdy, which comes from a very old cookbook, is tangy and delicious. —Doreen Lindquist, Thompson, Manitoba
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Fresh Plum Crumb Dessert

My old-fashioned dessert has the perfect sweet-tart balance with its fresh-plum tang and sweet, crispy topping. Imagine it warm from the oven, served with a scoop of ice cream…yum! —Janet Fahrenbruck-Lynch, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Brown Sugar Icebox Cookies

My daughters and I have been “fair-ly” successful competitors at county fairs and bake-offs for more than 20 years. This is one of the those winning recipes. —Eilene Bogar, Minier, Illinois
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Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream

My mother's family owned peach orchards in Missouri. I live in Tennessee, a top consumer of buttermilk. This summery ice cream combines my past and present. —Kim Higginbotham, Knoxville, Tennessee
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Old-Fashioned Honey Baked Apples

My baked apple recipe is very old-fashioned yet tried and true. It's definitely a comfort food. —Rachel Hamilton, Greenville, Pennsylvania
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Cranberry-Almond Apple Pie

This recipe is a family treasure. My grandmother made this treat for the holidays. It’s much better than everyday apple pie. —Maxine Theriauit, Nashua, New Hampshire
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Coconut Washboards

Coconut Washboards

This simple yet satisfying coconut cookie recipe has been around for generations. Pressing a fork into the top gives the look of an old-fashioned washboard. —Tommie Sue Shaw, McAlester, Oklahoma
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Walnut Apple Dessert

The neighbor who shared this recipe with me predicted that I'd serve it often, just as she has for more than 30 years. It's easy to put together and is wonderfully fruity. I like to serve it with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. —Diann Mallehan, Grand Rapids, Michigan
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Spiced Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Upside-down cakes, which have been around since the 1800s, were once called skillet cakes because they were cooked in cast-iron skillets on the stovetop. —Jennifer Sergesketter, Newburgh, Indiana
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Caramel-Pecan Apple Pie

You'll love the smell in your kitchen—and the smiles on everybody's faces—when you make this scrumptious caramel apple pie recipe. It takes me back home to Virginia and being at my granny's table. —Jean Castro, Phoenix, Arizona
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Peach and Berry Bliss Cobbler

This delightful cobbler smells so good in the oven, your mouth will be watering just from the aroma during baking. Believe me—there will be no leftovers! Serve it warm with cream or ice cream—my family's favorite. —Roni Goodell, Spanish Fork, Utah
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Baked Cranberry Pudding

Baked Cranberry Pudding

This is an old-fashioned pudding that's a cranberry lover's delight. Serve warm topped with whipped cream for an elegant look, or in bowls with rich cream poured over for a homey touch. —Lucy Meyring, Walden, Colorado
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Warm Cinnamon-Apple Topping

You'll quickly warm up to the old-fashioned taste of this cinnamon-apple topping. Spoon it over vanilla ice cream or slices of pound cake. —Doris Heath, Franklin, North Carolina
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Grandpa's Cookies

My grandpa, a widower, raised his three sons on his own and did all the cooking and lots of baking. I can still picture him making these tasty cookies. —Karen Baker, Dover, Ohio
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Caramel Pear Pudding

Don't expect this old-fashioned dessert to last long. The delicate pears and irresistible caramel topping make it a winner whenever I serve it. It's nice to have a tempting fall cake that puts the season's best pears to excellent use. —Sharon Mensing, Greenfield, Iowa
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Chunky Apple Cake

After taste testing apple cake recipes, I've found this particular recipe the best. Full of old-world comfort, the yummy brown sugar sauce really makes the cake special. For a festive occasion, top with a dollop of whipped cream. —Debi Benson, Bakersfield, California
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Gingersnap Crumb Pear Pie

This basic recipe was one my grandmother used for making crumble pies from fresh fruit. She simply substituted oats, gingersnaps or vanilla wafers depending on the fruit. Pear was always my favorite, and I added the ginger and caramel to give it a new twist. —Fay Moreland, Wichita Falls, Texas
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Cranberry-Apple Nut Crunch

This dessert is especially pretty and appropriate for the holidays. I updated my mother's recipe using instant oatmeal to make it even easier to fix. —Joyce Sheets, Lafayette, Indiana
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Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

My mother insisted that my grandmother write down one recipe for her when Mom got married in 1942: the how to make peanut butter cookies from scratch recipe. That was a real effort because Grandma was a traditional pioneer-type cook who used a little of this or that until it felt right. This treasured recipe is the only one she ever wrote down! —Janet Hall, Clinton, Wisconsin
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Aunt Murna's Jam Cake

I remember Aunt Murna telling me that she created her jam cake recipe as a young girl. She made improvements over the years, such as soaking the raisins in crushed pineapple. This cake is a favorite at our annual family reunions. —Mrs. Eddie Robinson, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
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Brown Sugar Cutout Cookies

Our neighbor made these for me when I was little, and now I make them for my kids, grandkids and for the children at school. Serve them with milk for the kids and tea for the grown-ups. —Nancy Lynch, Somerset, Pennsylvania
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Milk Cake

This is a simple recipe—and especially easy in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. The result is a deliciously light, airy cake. —Suzanne Coelman, Rabun Gap, Georgia
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Molasses-Bourbon Pecan Pie

Guests’ mouths water when they glimpse this southern charmer. Its flaky crust perfectly complements the rich, nutty filling. —Charlene Chambers, Ormond Beach, Florida
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Apple Brown Betty

This apple brown betty can be whipped up in hardly any time. It costs little to prepare, but it's big on flavor. —Florence Palmer, Marshall, Illinois
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Grandma Krause's Coconut Cookies

When my two daughters were young, their great-grandma made them coconut cookies with oats. Thankfully, she shared the recipe. —Debra Dorn, Dunnellon, Florida
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Caramel-Apple Skillet Buckle

My grandma made a version of this for me when I was a little girl—and fresh apples from a tree in her backyard added an extra-special touch. I’ve adapted her recipe because I love the combination of apple, pecans and caramel. —Emily Hobbs, Springfield, Missouri
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Caramelized Apple Hand Pies

Caramelized apples are tucked in a hand pie that no one expects you to share! —Edwina Gadsby, Hayden, Idaho
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Gingerbread Oatmeal Cookies

Cookie butter and ground ginger add a new layer of flavor. The recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies, and they go fast. You may want to make a double batch. —Carole Resnick, Cleveland, Ohio
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Baked Apple Surprise

Baked Apple Surprise

This sweet-savory recipe is a favorite. Use Brie instead of blue cheese if you like things creamier. My tip? Bake the apples in a muffin tin so they won’t roll around. —Jessica Levinson, Nyack, New York
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Glazed Spiced Rum Pound Cakes

My recipe makes two loaf-sized treats, perfect for sharing. The spiced rum flavor really comes through in both the cake and the glaze. —Christine Russell, Littleton, New Hampshire
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Moist Lazy Daisy Cake

We always called this Mama's "never fail" recipe. I guess the same holds true for me, since I've entered this lazy daisy cake in contests and won with it. This tasty dessert is popular in our family, and it always brings back fond memories of Mama. —Carrie Bartlett, Gallatin, Tennessee
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Hermits

Dress up a cookie plate with these old-fashioned spice bars full of raisins, molasses, cinnamon, ginger and nuts. The chewy treats are great with coffee or hot cocoa on frosty days. These cookies are said to be called “hermits” because they keep well–they’re even better when hidden away like a hermit for several days! —Jeri Tirmenstein, Apache Junction, Arizona
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Maple Butter Tarts

These individual tarts are so scrumptious and syrupy that I often double the recipe so I have enough for guests to take home. They’re a little slice of heaven alongside a cup of coffee. —Lorraine Caland, Thunder Bay, Ontario
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Cranberry Pudding

This recipe was given to me years ago by my Aunt Lena, who lived on Cape Cod where cranberries are grown. The combination of warm tart cranberries and a smooth sweet brown sugar sauce is the perfect ending to any holiday meal! —Phyllis Bellerose, Palmer, MA
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Lebkuchen

It’s tradition for my family to make these German treats together. The recipe came from my great-grandmother’s cookbook, and judging from the amount of requests I get, it has certainly stood the test of time. —Esther Kempker, Jefferson City, Missouri
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Sticky Toffee Rice Pudding with Caramel Cream

The once homely rice pudding gets the Cinderella treatment in this comforting dessert that delivers on the sticky toffee flavor. It has just the right amount of thickness for soaking up a hot caramel topping. —Janice Elder, Charlotte, North Carolina
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Peach Crumble Dessert

Old-fashioned, delicious and easy to make describes this yummy peach crumble dessert. It's wonderful served with ice cream. —Nancy Horsburgh, Everett, Ontario
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Baked Apple Dumplings

These versatile dumplings can be made with peaches or mixed berries in place of apples, and drizzled with hot caramel sauce instead of icing. Add vanilla custard or ice cream, and it’s the perfect dessert. —Evangeline Bradford, Erlanger, Kentucky
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Mom's Peach Pie

Mom's Peach Pie

A delightful summertime pie, this dessert is overflowing with fresh peach flavor. Each sweet slice is packed with old-fashioned appeal. The streusel topping makes this pie a little different than the ordinary and adds homemade flair. —Sally Holbrook, Pasadena, California

Hazel Wheaton
Hazel is a writer and editor who has worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years in the fields of travel, jewelry arts and food. As the editor of the Taste of Home Christmas Annual (among other titles), she's in the holiday spirit all year round. An enthusiastic baker, she's known for her cookies, cakes and other baked goods. And she still wishes she could cook like her mother.

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