Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest Winners and Finalists―Desserts

See the top recipes from past contests, and learn how to enter yours.

Contestant Lindsay Weiss won the dessert category with these brilliant banana bars.

Becky Luigart-Stayner

2009 Category Winner: Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies

"I love chocolate and cherry flavors together, and I found great dried cherries from Maine for this recipe. I also used bittersweet instead of milk chocolate: Not only does it have less sugar, but it has a deeper flavor, too." ―Marcie Dixon, Arlington Heights, Ill.

View Recipe: Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies

Contestant Lindsay Weiss won the dessert category with these brilliant banana bars.

Becky Luigart-Stayner

2008 Category Winner: Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter–Pecan Frosting

"I have been baking banana bars with my mother since I was old enough to stir the batter, so I was pleased when I was able to lighten them for my family and still maintain the original flavor. I browned butter in a saucepan to enhance its richness, thus eliminating the need for full-fat cream cheese. This is a great way to use ripe, speckled bananas." ―Lindsay Weiss, Overland Park, KS

View Recipe: Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter-Pecan Frosting

Deep Dark Chocolate Biscotti

Becky Luigart-Stayner

2008 Finalist: Deep Dark Chocolate Biscotti

"Whole-wheat flour, flaxseed, and almonds add fiber and antioxidants.” ―Linda Rogers, Manistee, Mich.

View Recipe: Deep Dark Chocolate Biscotti

Deep Dark Chocolate Biscotti

Becky Luigart-Stayner

2008 Finalist: Garden Harvest Cake

Zucchini, carrot, and apples add moisture and flavor, eliminating the need for excess butter and oil. This simple cake only takes about 10 minutes to prepare the batter, and I love it for breakfast. ―Jennifer Dunklee, Medford, Mass.

View Recipe: Garden Harvest Cake

Carrot Cake with Toasted Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Howard Puckett

2007 Category Winner:
Carrot Cake with Toasted Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

"I grind oats with flour in a food processor to make this cake more nutritious, and use only 1/4 cup canola oil and pureed baby food carrots to make it moist. This cake keeps for up to three days in the refrigerator and also freezes well."
―Christine Dohlmar, Valrico, Florida

View Recipe: Carrot Cake with Toasted Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Video: Christine Dohlmar shares the story behind her recipe

Decadent Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake

Howard Puckett

2007 Finalist:
Decadent Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake

"The cake has a delicate chocolate flavor, so it's not overpowering. I enjoy the special glaze the most. Although I wrote the recipe to say "cool completely," the cake tastes delicious served slightly warm about a half-hour after you have inverted it from the pan."
 ―Barb Combs, Fort Collins, CO

View Recipe: Decadent Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake

Video: Barb Combs shares the story behind her recipe

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Honey Apple Cake

Howard Puckett

2007 Finalist:
Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Honey Apple Cake

"I've been making oatmeal cake for my family for more than 45 years. Several years ago I revised the recipe, eliminating vegetable oil and using thick, chunky applesauce for added moistness. I replaced granulated sugar with honey, which gave the cake more flavor. The original frosting called for coconut, but I chose almonds, a more healthful option."
―Barbara Estabrook, Rhinelander, Wisconsin

View Recipe: Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Honey Apple Cake

Video: Barbara Estabrook shares the story behind her recipe

Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes

Howard Puckett

2006 Grand Prize Winner:
Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes

"Lemon and blueberry flavors give these cupcakes a great taste. Blueberries or fresh, edible flowers make an easy, pretty decoration." 
―Gloria Bradley, Naperville, IL

View Recipe: Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes

Autumn Maple Cutout Cookies

Howard Puckett

2006 Finalist:
Autumn Maple Cutout Cookies

"Use real maple syrup for best results. I also like to use a maple leaf cookie cutter when I make these." 
―Tracy Schuhmacher, Penfield, NY

View Recipe: Autumn Maple Cutout Cookies

Chocolate Chip Irish Cream Pound Cake

Howard Puckett

2006 Finalist:
Chocolate Chip Irish Cream Pound Cake

"This cake is even better on the second day." 
―Anna Ginsberg, Austin, TX

View Recipe: Chocolate Chip Irish Cream Pound Cake

One-Bowl Chocolate Mocha Cream Cake

Howard Puckett

2005 Category Winner:
One-Bowl Chocolate Mocha Cream Cake

"Cake is my favorite dessert―especially frosted cake."
―Anna Ginsberg, Austin, TX

View Recipe: One-Bowl Chocolate Mocha Cream Cake

Banana Rum Coconut Cookies

Howard Puckett

2005 Finalist
Banana Rum Coconut Cookies

"I love oatmeal cookies, so I did my best to come up with a low-fat version." 
―Christine Dohlmar, Valrico, FL

View Recipe: Banana Rum Coconut Cookies

Sour Cream Panna Cotta with Blackberry-Zinfandel Compote

Howard Puckett

2005 Finalist
Sour Cream Panna Cotta with Blackberry-Zinfandel Compote

"I developed this light but rich-tasting dessert for a get-together dinner for fitness instructors. I've made this for other entertaining events because I can prepare it ahead of time, which I love." 
―Camilla Saulsbury, Nacogdoches, TX

View Recipe: Sour Cream Panna Cotta with Blackberry-Zinfandel Compote

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