Grandma’s Best Desserts

Updated: Apr. 13, 2024

From classic cakes and homemade pies to old-fashioned cookies and candy, memories of Grandma's kitchen make these the best dessert recipes ever.

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Mamaw Emily’s Strawberry Cake

My husband loved his Mamaw’s strawberry cake recipe. He thought no one could duplicate it. I made it, and it’s just as scrumptious as he remembers. —Jennifer Bruce, Manitou, Kentucky

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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

(You’ll love grandma’s classic spritz cookie recipe!)

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Gran's Apple Cake

My grandmother occasionally brought over this wonderful cake warm from the oven. The spicy apple flavor combined with the sweet cream cheese frosting made this recipe one that we treasured. Even though I've lightened it up, it's still a family favorite. —Lauris Conrad, Turlock, California
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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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Pina Colada Icebox Cake

This icebox cake has all the flavors of a pina colada. It takes just one bite to escape to a tropical island! —Rachel Lewis, Danville, Virginia
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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, to my granny's table. —Jean Castro, Phoenix, Arizona
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Grandma's Carrot Cake

My grandma was very special to me. She had a big country kitchen that was full of wonderful aromas any time we visited. This was one of her prized cake recipes, and it continues to be a favorite from generation to generation. —Denise Strasz, Detroit, Michigan
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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

Years ago, I added some zucchini to a peanut butter bar I had created, and this time I wanted to try adding it to a cake. The zucchini makes the cake super moist but doesn’t get in the way of the chocolate and peanut butter goodness. —Marilyn Blankschien, Clintonville, Wisconsin
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Cherry Coconut Treats

My great-grandmother created this recipe more than 100 years ago, so these tasty bites have appeared at many family parties. If you're preparing these for the holidays, make them festive by using both red and green maraschino cherries. —Anne Mullen, Windsor, Ontario
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Nana's Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Frosting

Even though Nana is no longer with us, her treats bring me so much joy every time I bake them. For a more indulgent version, double the frosting and pile it on high! —Chekota Hunter, Cassville, Missouri
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Apple Pie

I remember coming home sullen one day because we'd lost a softball game. Grandma, in her wisdom, suggested that maybe a slice of hot apple pie would make me feel better. She was right. —Maggie Greene, Granite Falls, Washington
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Blackberry-Orange Cake

My grandmother made luscious fruit pies and cobblers using blackberries from her garden. I decided to follow her lead and create a blackberry cake that's always lovely with a summer meal. —Lisa M. Varner, El Paso, Texas
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Fudge Nut Brownies

There's no brownie recipe or mix I've ever tried that's better than this! And it's so easy—you can mix it in one bowl in just a few minutes. My husband's grandmother passed the recipe on; now our son makes these brownies for after-school snacks. —Becky Albright, Norwalk, Ohio
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Carrot Cake

My family's best carrot cake recipe dates back to my great-grandmother! We bake up a few of these carrot cakes for special occasions to make sure there's enough to go around. You'll love the texture this pretty, moist treat gets from pineapple, coconut and, of course, carrots! —Debbie Terenzini-Wilkerson, Lusby, Maryland
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Irresistible Coconut Cream Pie

My husband and I grow 500 acres of wheat on the farm his family homesteaded in 1889. I grind my own flour and love to use it in this recipe. The easy, pat-in crust has a rich grain flavor. It’s irresistible filled with old-fashioned coconut cream and topped with a fluffy meringue. —Roberta Foster, Kingfisher, Oklahoma
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Shoofly Cupcakes

These were my grandmother's specialty. To keep them from disappearing too quickly, she used to store them out of sight. —Beth Adams, Jacksonville, Florida
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Cookie Jar Gingersnaps

My grandma kept two cookie jars in her pantry. One of the jars, which I now have, always had these crisp and chewy gingersnaps in it. They're still my favorite cookies. My daughter used this recipe for a 4-H fair and won a blue ribbon. —Deb Handy, Pomona, Kansas
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Banana Bread Pudding

When I visited my grandmother in summer, I always looked forward to the comforting banana bread pudding she'd make. With its crusty golden top, custard-like inside and smooth vanilla sauce, this pudding is a real homespun dessert. Now I make it for my grandchildren. —Mary Detweiler, Middlefield, Ohio
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Sugar Cream Pie

I absolutely love Indiana sugar cream pie; especially the one that my grandma made for me. Here, we serve it warm or chilled and call it "Hoosier" sugar cream pie. —Laura Kipper, Westfield, Indiana
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7UP Pound Cake

My grandmother gave me my first cake recipe—a pound cake using 7UP—which her grandmother had given to her. On top of being delicious, this cake represents family tradition, connection and love. —Marsha Davis, Desert Hot Springs, California
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Glazed Strawberry Cookies

I learned to bake with my grandmother and mother. I knew I was giving them a sweet new family tradition when I shared this recipe with them. —Andrea Zulauf, Livonia, New York
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Grandma's Tandy Kake

My grandmother made this for all our family gatherings. Everyone loves it now I make it for every party we attend or host. —John Morgan III, Lebanon, Pennsylvania
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Italian Lemon Cookies

Christmas wouldn't be the same without my grandmother's cookies. A plate full of these light and zesty cookies is divine! —Elisabeth Miller, Broadview Heights, Ohio
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Buttermilk Pecan Pie

This is the treasured "golden oldie" that my grandmother made so often whenever we'd come to visit. Grandma grew her own pecans, and we never tired of cracking them and picking out the meat when we knew we'd be treated to her special pie! —Mildred Sherrer, Fort Worth, Texas
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Chocolate Cupcake Cones

I experimented with these cupcakes when my girls were young. Now, I'm a grandmother of nine, and these are still our favorites. They're a great treat for kids to bring to school.—Betty Anderson, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
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Banana Skillet Upside-Down Cake

My grandmother gave me my first cast iron skillet, and I've been cooking and baking with it ever since. Sometimes I add drained maraschino cherries to this banana skillet dessert and serve it with a ice cream. —Terri Merritts, Nashville, Tennessee
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Iced Orange Cookies

I usually make these bite-size orange cookies at Christmastime, when Florida citrus is plentiful, but they're delicious any time of year. Every time I sniff their wonderful aroma, I remember my grandmother, who shared the recipe. —Lori DiPietro, New Port Richey, Florida
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Apple Roly-Poly

My grandmother’s apple dessert is genuine regional fare. 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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Pinwheel Mints

Both my grandmother and my mom used to make these eye-catching confections as a replacement for ordinary mints. When I offer them at parties, guests tell me the candies are wonderful, and then ask how I created the pretty swirl pattern. —Marilou Roth, Milford, Nebraska
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Grandma's Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

My grandma topped this treat with homemade vanilla ice cream. —Angela Lively, Conroe, Texas
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Crisp Sugar Cookies

My grandmother always had sugar cookies in her pantry, and we grandchildren would empty that big jar quickly because they were the best! I now regularly bake these wonderful cookies to share with friends. —Evelyn Poteet, Hancock, Maryland
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Moist Chocolate Cake

This moist chocolate cake recipe with coffee reminds me of my grandmother because it was one of her specialties. I bake it often for family parties, and it always brings back fond memories. The cake is light and airy with a delicious chocolate taste. This recipe is a keeper! —Patricia Kreitz, Richland, Pennsylvania
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Martha Washington Candy

Passed down by my grandmother and mother, this Martha Washington candy recipe is a cherished family tradition. We've even had each grandchild and great-grandchild take a turn stirring the candy mixture! —Cindi Boger, Ardmore, Alabama
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Lemon Custard Cake

This custard cake recipe comes from my grandma— it's nice to whip up when unexpected company stops in. It's a cool, creamy dessert that tastes like you fussed. —Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
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Caramel-Apple Skillet Buckle

My grandma used to bake a version of this for me when I was a little girl. She would make it using fresh apples from her tree in the backyard. I've adapted her recipe because I love the combination of apples, pecans and caramel. —Emily Hobbs, Springfield, Missouri
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German Black Forest Cake

As far as I know, this cake recipe can be traced back to my German great-grandma. When I got married, my mother gave me a copy and I hope to someday pass it down to my children. —Stephanie Travis, Fallon, Nevada
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Date Swirl Cookies

My granddaughter nicknamed my mother Cookie Grandma because she made wonderful cookie—including these crisp and chewy treats. —Donna Grace, Clancy, Montana
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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

While growing up on a farm, I often ate rhubarb, so it’s natural for me to use it in a pie. I prefer to use lard for the flaky pie crust and thin red rhubarb stalks for the filling. These two little secrets helped this strawberry rhubarb pie recipe win top honors at the 2013 Iowa State Fair. —Marianne Carlson, Jefferson, Iowa
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Grossmutter's Peppernuts

Before Christmas, my grandmother would bake peppernuts and store them until the big day. When we came home from school, the whole house would smell like anise and we knew the holiday season was about to begin. —Marilyn Kutzli, Clinton, Iowa
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Apple Cornbread Crisp

With hearty ingredients and quick prep time, this warm apple crisp makes a delicious, wholesome dessert for any fall night. It reminds me of the recipe my grandmother would serve after our big family seafood dinners. It's absolutely wonderful topped with ice cream. —Julie Peterson, Crofton, Maryland
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Pennsylvania Dutch Funny Cake

I can still remember my grandma serving this delicious cake on the big wooden table in her farm kitchen. Every time I bake this unusual cake, it takes me back to those special days at Grandma's. —Diane Ganssle, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
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Breakfast Apple Cake

Baked in a pretty tube pan and drizzled with icing, this breakfast cake will be a highlight of your holiday menu. I adapted the recipe from one of my grandmother's. —Shaunda Wenger, Nibley, Utah
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Peppermint Brownies

My grandmother encouraged me to enter these mint brownies in the county fair some years ago—and they earned top honors! They're a delicious treat to serve during the holidays. —Marcy Greenblatt, Redding, California
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Bittersweet Chocolate Cheesecake

I'm a great-grandmother, and my whole family enjoys this dessert. I received this recipe from my niece. It's very chocolaty. —Amelia Gregory, Omemee, Ontario
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Oma's Apfelkuchen (Grandma's Apple Cake)

My husband’s German family calls this Oma’s apfelkuchen, which translates to "Grandma’s apple cake." They’ve been sharing the recipe for more than 150 years. I use Granny Smith apples, but any variety works. —Amy Kirchen, Loveland, Ohio
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Coconut Creme Chocolates

I'm a proud wife, mom of three and grandma of many. I've cooked many things over the years, including these marshmallowy chocolates. —Dolores Wilder, Texas City, Texas
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Apricot Pinwheel Cookies

My grandmother always made these cookies for the holidays. The recipe has been passed down through generations to me, and now from me to you. — Robert Logan, Clayton, California
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Nanny's Fruitcake Cookies

My grandmother always made a holiday fruitcake. I turned her recipe into cookies that are perfect anytime, especially with a cup of tea. —Amanda Digges, South Windsor, Connecticut
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Chocolate Pear Hazelnut Tart

As a teenage foreign exchange student in the south of France, I was horribly homesick. Then my host family's Grandmother Miette arrived and asked if I'd like to help her bake this nutty tart from scratch. It turned my trip around and inspired my lifelong passion for baking. Weighing ingredients, roasting nuts, kneading dough—the art of baking transcends language. —Lexi McKeown, Los Angeles, California
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Orange Sugar Cookies

I make these citrusy cookies for parties and special occasions, and we always get to eat the ones that don’t come out perfectly. Eventually I had to start making extra “mistakes” to keep my family happy! —Myrrh Wertz, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Caramel Rhubarb Cobbler

I came up with this recipe after hearing a friend fondly recall his grandmother's rhubarb dumplings. My son especially likes rhubarb, and this old-fashioned dessert lets those special stalks star. -Beverly Shebs, Pinehurst, North Carolina
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Mint Chocolate Wafers

My grandmother gave me a cookbook stuffed with recipes. This is a slight twist on one of the first—and best—recipes I made from the book. It's best to store these in the refrigerator. —Mary Murphy, Evansville, Indiana
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Icebox Cookies

This cookie recipe from my 91-year-old grandmother was my grandfather's favorite. She still makes them and sends us home with the dough so that we can make more whenever we want, I love to make a fresh batch when company drops in. —Chris Paulsen, Glendale, Arizona
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Crumb-Topped Apple Pie

This apple pie with crumb topping is absolutely delicious! If you’re a beginner, use a store-bought pie crust to get a head start. You’ll still get a bushel of compliments. —Virginia Olson, West Des Moines, Iowa
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Chocolate Chip Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Baking a fun treat is a must when my four grandchildren come to stay for "grandma camp." Sometimes the grandkids help by piping the cake batter. —Linda Schend, Kenosha, Wisconsin
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Cranberry-Almond Apple Pie

My grandmother made this treat every year for Christmas. It’s much better than everyday apple pie. The recipe is a family treasure. —Maxine Theriauit, Nashua, New Hampshire
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Red Velvet Marble Cake

I watched my grandma prepare her red velvet showstopper many times for family get-togethers. The fluffy butter frosting perfectly complements the flavor of this gorgeous cake.—Jodi Anderson, Overbrook, Kansas
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Meringue Snowballs In Custard

My family has passed down this elegant dessert generation by generation. It started with my Russian great-grandmother, who traveled to America more than 100 years ago. I love continuing the tradition with her recipe. —Tonya Burkhard, Palm Coast, Florida
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Lime & Spice Peach Cobbler

This was my grandmother’s favorite recipe to make when they had bushels of peaches. Now I love to bake it whenever I can for my family and friends. —Mary Ann Dell of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
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Gingerbread Meringue Bars

For the best of both worlds, I combined my grandmother's gingerbread recipe with my aunt's special brown sugar meringue. The result? These lovable holiday-perfect bars that have become a new family tradition. —Eden Dranger, Los Angeles, California
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Granny's Spice Cookies

Granny always had a batch of these delicious, crispy cookies waiting for us at her house. When I miss her more than usual, I make these cookies and let the aroma fill my house and heart. —Valerie Hudson, Mason City, Iowa
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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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Triple Ginger Cookies

My dad loved ginger cookies. I tinkered with the recipe my grandma handed down by using fresh, ground and crystallized ginger for more pizazz. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
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Six-Layer Coconut Cake with Lemon Filling

I found this recipe when going through my grandmother's old files. It was originally made with an orange filling, but using lemon pudding in the filling makes it easier to prepare. It is simply the best. —Angela Leinenbach, Mechanicsvlle, Virginia
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Minty Chocolate Cream Cheese Bars

I always looked forward to my grandma’s gooey rich cream cheese bars while I was growing up. This version includes mint, which is one of my favorite flavor add-ins. —Jill Lutz, Woodbury, Minnesota
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Italian Pineapple Trifle

My grandmother made this rich, tempting trifle every year for our family’s Christmas Eve celebrations. Now I make it to carry on her special tradition. It’s an easy, delicious no-bake dessert everyone will love. —Ann-Marie Milano, Milton, Massachusetts
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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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Banana Butter Pecan Kabobs

Desserts with bananas remind me of Grandma. She and my mom taught me to cook. I rarely measure. For this dish, I set out pecans and butterscotch with kabobs so everyone can customize. —Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado
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Lemon Pudding Cookies

These lemon slice cookies are a refreshing variation of my grandmother's sugar cookies. Lemon pudding mix and icing add a subtle tartness that tingles your taste buds. —Melissa Turkington, Camano Island, Washington
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Zucchini Cupcakes

I asked my grandmother for this recipe after trying these irresistible spice cupcakes at her home. I love their creamy caramel frosting. They're such a scrumptious dessert, you actually forget you're eating your vegetables, too! —Virginia Lapierre, Greensboro Bend, Vermont
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Frosted Spice Cookies

This recipe has been handed down through many generations of my husband's family. The cookies were always in his grandmother's cookie jar when he'd visit. Today, he enjoys them more than ever—and so do I. —Debbie Hurlbert, Howard, Ohio
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Cherry Nut Cake

My grandmother made up this recipe for her children. Using Ozark-grown cherries and walnuts, she invented one they all liked. Granny always used cream from the dairy farm near her home, but the half-and half works well and is easier to find. —Diana Jennings, Lebanon, Missouri
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Mexican Chocolate Sugar Crisps

My grandma loved these so much, she would hide them from my grandpa! I think of her every time I make a batch. Like Mexican spice? Try stirring in a little chili powder. —Michele Lovio, Thousand Oaks, California
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Lemon-Berry Shortcake

This simple lemon shortcake is tender and not overly sweet. Enjoy this summertime classic with a generous layer of whipped topping and berries. —Meryl Herr, Overland Park, Kansas
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Honey-Lime Almond Cookies

Decades ago my grandmother passed this buttery lime cookie recipe to me. Through years of baking, our cookie memories keep the family connected, although we’re miles apart. —Paula Marchesi, Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania
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Dipped Chocolate Logs

When my sister and I were little, we used to beg my mother and grandmother to make these buttery chocolate cookies during the holidays. Now, as moms ourselves, we get together every year to make Christmas cookies, and the chocolate logs are always on the top of our list. —Deanna Markkos, Western Springs, Illinois

We made the original fantasy fudge recipe—and it still stacks up decades later.

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Grandma Davidson's Baked Apple Pudding

My savvy grandmother whipped up recipes like this homey cinnamon-scented apple pudding in the Depression years. Many of us still make them today. —Holly Sharp, Warren, Ontario
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Anise & Wine Cookies

My grandmother did not speak English very well, but she knew the language of great food. These wine cookies are crisp and best eaten after being dunked in even more wine.—Julia Meyers, Scottsdale, Arizona
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Raisin Pecan Pie

I remember my Grandmother Voltie and Great-Aunt Ophelia making this southern-style pie for Thanksgiving. It was always one of the many cakes and pies lined up for dessert. —Angie Price, Bradford, Tennessee
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Grandma's Pecan Rum Bars

My grandmother handed down the recipe for these gooey bars that we all love. The candied cherries are a must. —Deborah Pennington, Falkville, Alabama

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