Old-Fashioned Desserts We Secretly Still Love

woman making a jello mold in a 60s style kitchen

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woman making a jello mold in a 60s style kitchen
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Retro Recipes: Dessert Edition

Nowadays we're all talking about the next dump-and-bake dessert or we're trying out the latest trend on TikTok for a sweet treat after dinner. But what about the classic recipes Grandma used to make? We're talking about the tried and true recipes of the past that activate our most nostalgic tastebuds. 

From ambrosia salad to Jell-O forward dishes, here are some old-fashioned dessert recipes that have become classic cravings.

Homemade Holiday Peanut Brittle

1. Peanut Brittle

Be careful not to chip a tooth on this stuff, but boy oh boy, is peanut brittle singing the songs of Christmas past to us. Akin to toffee, peanut brittle is full of rich flavor and a crisp and crunchy texture that's just next-level. If your grandma didn't whip up batches upon batches of this to lay out for munching around the holidays, we're sorry about your rotten luck.

Recipe: Little Cooks Reading Books

fruit salad from pineapple, oranges, grapes and coconut with marshmallow and vanilla yogurt close-up. horizontal

2. Ambrosia Salad

Another one of Grandma's go-to's. This stuff is best when it's chilled in the fridge for a while so all of the flavors and textures can mingle nicely. I still make this every Christmas, it's that good. This recipe will never die.

Recipe: The Kitchen is My Playground

Jello dessert
Homemade Toasted Baked Alaska
Japan. August. Hot weather. Vanilla ice cream with sour cherry red wine sauce
Alexander Pyatenko/istockphoto

5. Cherries Jubilee

Cherries Jubilee are basically just cherries simmered with orange and flambeed with brandy. Served with some vanilla ice cream, they're absolutely top tier. 

Recipe: Sugar Geek Recipes

Close Up of Translucent Mouthwatering Orange Jelly Mould

6. Jell-O Molds

Now, we're not talking about Aunt Bethany's alien-green, cat food-filled Jell-O mold from that Christmas classic "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" when we look back fondly on this dessert. More like the mandarin orange-accompanied version or the ones with the maraschino cherries. Good stuff.

Recipe: Dole

Cornflake Cookies Prepare to put in the oven on a tray.
Aekprachaya Ayuyuen/istockphoto

7. Corn Flake Peanut Butter Cookies

Crispy, creamy, salty ... these just didn't and still don't miss. Plus, they're cheap to make, and we here at Cheapism love that.

Recipe: Cupcake Diaries

Shoo Fly
Warm Homemade Gingersnap Cookies

9. Molasses Cookies

Molasses cookies have a distinct spice flavor and they are the perfect balance of bite and decadence. These rich cookies are soft, chewy, and pretty much to-die-for.

Recipe: Beyond the Butter

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Christmas Divinity Candy

10. Divinity Candy

Divinity is a classic, nougat-like candy with a foundation of whipped egg whites, corn syrup, and sugar. Flavors and fillings like dried fruit or chopped nuts make this candy completely customizable to your tastes. The roots of this candy date back as far as the 1900s, and this stuff is a lot more obscure now, albeit still a good go-to treat to make.

Recipe: Creative Homemaking

Pecan pralines, a delicacy of New Orleans, Louisiana

11. Pecan Pralines

These are an easy-to-make candy that deliver the just-right balance of creamy and crunchy. The nutty flavor is complemented by a subtle richness that is pretty well primo. Throw these in a tin and gift them to your neighbors ... unless they have a nut allergy, that is.

Recipe: Life, Love, and Sugar

Homemade butterscotch pudding in glass cream bowl on the table. National Butterscotch Pudding Day

12. Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch is one of the best flavors in existence and you can not change my mind on that. It's just a fact. It's buttery and rich all at the same time without being overpowering. In its pudding form, it's a simple dessert that just doesn't miss.

Recipe: The View from Great Island

Close up of assorted multicolored gum drops

13. Gumdrop Cookies

Just like Grandma used to make. With an oatmeal cookie base, the gumdrops throughout these cookies provided irresistably chewy bites with complex flavors found in absolutely no other cookie. Best enjoyed warm, for sure. 

Recipe: Bowl Me Over