Dessert Bowls

Today’s post is sponsored by Nielsen-Massey®, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Sugar Spun Run!

Introducing the next big thing in desserts — Dessert Bowls ! A cross between a de-constructed cake and a trifle, it’s a dessert soiree and a new way to enjoy your favorite sweets!

Step aside, Buddha bowls. Goodbye, smoothie bowls. There’s a new bowl in town.

Say hello to Dessert Bowls , every bit as beautiful and Instagram-able as the Instagram food trends of the past few years, but (in my humble, sweet-tooth-ruled opinion) so much tastier.

Ok, so that’s a big statement and maybe a bit too bold, but I am so excited about these dessert bowls right now. They’re an idea that I’d been toying with for a while after seeing my first smoothie bowl on Instagram… it was beautiful and I instantly wanted to recreate it… until I realized that it was mostly healthy fruit.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good smoothie, but imagine my disappointment when what I thought was a bowl of strawberry mousse and sprinkles turned out to be strawberry almond milk and chia seeds .

Maybe I have a problem, I know my sweet tooth is strong, but , as a result, I can now share with you these dessert bowls (which, you may have noticed, also contain fruit, so there’s that).

Let’s break down these Dessert Bowls and everything you need to know about how to make them.

What is a Dessert Bowl?

It’s a new way to enjoy dessert. Mine are made with a bottom layer of rich, chocolate cream cheese mousse, cut-outs of vanilla bean cake, a homemade vanilla bourbon whipped cream, and plenty of fresh berries.

It’s a bit like a trifle, a bit like a de-constructed cake, and a bit irresistible.

I think that you’ll find that each component of the dessert bowl plays nicely with the other. The chocolate cream cheese mousse is rich and dark while the whipped cream is soft and light, the cake is sweet and perfectly textured while the berries are slightly tart and refreshing.

What do I Need to Make Dessert Bowls?

Besides pretty bowls (and maybe some impractical, but very pretty, gold-plated twig-shaped silverware) there are a few things I recommend.

  • Star-shaped or heart-shaped cookie cutters (or your preferred shape!). If you don’t have cookie cutters you can just cut the cake into squares, but I really like the effect that the cut-out shapes have on the presentation!
  • Your favorite fruit — I used blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries, but raspberries or cherries would also work very well! I was tempted to try pomegranate seeds, they would be both beautiful and delicious, too!
  • Quality ingredients — particularly vanilla extract. There is a reason I teamed up with Nielsen-Massey for this post — Nielsen-Massey understands that vanilla is its best when the natural essence is allowed to shine, and so I highly recommend using their Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and Pure Vanilla Bean Paste throughout this recipe as indicated. Nielsen-Massey keeps its ingredient list short and sweet when producing their pure vanilla, so you’re getting true vanilla flavor that will really shine through in your baked goods. All of their vanilla beans are hand-examined and they use a proprietary cold extraction process (instead of heat extraction) to preserve all of the 300+ distinctive flavor compounds present in vanilla beans for a rich, complex flavor profile.
  • And finally, a smart phone to take a picture and share it to Instagram. It’s what all the cool kids are doing these days, right? (I’m mostly kidding about Instagram but if you do snap a pic, please do tag me so I can see your creation!)


  • I recommend making the vanilla cake portion first as it will need to cool before you can cut it and use it in your dessert bowls. If you try to cut the cake before it is cooled it may fall apart, and if you try to add the powdered sugar while the cake is still warm it will just melt.
  • Each component of the dessert bowls can be made in advance — the cake and chocolate mousse can be made 1-2 days in advance. The vanilla bean whipped cream that I’m using here is based off of my whipped cream recipe , which I have successfully stored for days, but just to be on the safe side I recommend making it the same day you intend to serve.
  • While the dessert bowl components can be made in advance, I recommend keeping them separate and assembling the dessert bowls just before serving.
  • This recipe will make 4 dessert bowls the size of the ones shown in the photos. Just a fair warning — that’s a lot of dessert and is best if you want to split with one or two friends. To serve more people individually, just use smaller bowls.

Alright, I think we’ve covered all the bases of what I believe is going to be one of the biggest food trends of 2018

I hope you’ll try them out, and be sure to follow Nielsen-Massey on Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram for more recipe ideas!


How to Make Dessert Bowls

Dessert Bowls

Prep Time 1 hour

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Servings 4 large bowls or 8 small


Vanilla Cake (adapted from my Vanilla Cake)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature 113g
  • ½ cup canola or vegetable oil 120ml
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar 300g
  • 4 large eggs room temperature preferred
  • 1 Tablespoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 390g
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk room temperature preferred 300ml
  • Powdered sugar for topping

Chocolate Mousse

  • 1 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips 175g
  • 2 cups heavy cream divided (474 ml)
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened (227g)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar 150g
  • 1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream (adapted from my Homemade Whipped Cream)

  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream 355ml
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar 60g
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Additional Toppings:

  • 3 cups 400g assorted berries
  • Chocolate shavings I simply used a vegetable peeler on a chocolate bar for my chocolate shavings


Vanilla Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and prepare a jelly roll pan (12x17x1”) or cookie sheet by lining the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl using an electric mixer) cream together the butter, oil and sugar, until well-combined.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Stir in Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract.
  5. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Using a spatula and gently hand-mixing, alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined after each addition. The batter should be smooth and completely combined, but avoid over-mixing.
  7. Spread batter evenly into prepared jelly roll pan and bake on 350F (175C) for 18-22 minutes. When the cake is finished, the surface should spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean with few moist crumbs (no wet batter).
  8. Allow cakes to cool in the pan completely.
  9. Once cake has completely cooled, either cut into squares or use star or heart or preferred cookie cutter to cut into shapes and lightly dust with powdered sugar. Set aside until ready to serve dessert bowls.

Chocolate Mousse

  1. In a small saucepan, combine chocolate chips and 1/2 cup (118.5 ml) of the heavy cream over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until chocolate chips are completely melted and mixture is smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and pour into a heatproof bowl. Stir in Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract.
  3. Allow mixture to cool completely before continuing.
  4. In a clean, medium-sized bowl, use an electric mixer to beat remaining 1 1/2 cups (355.5 ml) heavy cream to stiff peaks. Set aside.
  5. In bowl of stand mixer, combine cream cheese and (cooled) chocolate mixture, stirring until completely combined.
  6. Gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.Fold in prepared whipped cream until completely combined (don't over-mix).
  7. Set aside until you are ready to assemble dessert bowls (keep refrigerated in an airtight container if not assembling immediately)

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

  1. Place a medium-sized bowl (preferably metal) in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to chill.
  2. Once bowl has chilled, remove from freezer and add heavy cream, powdered sugar, and Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat ingredients on low speed, gradually increasing speed to high, and beat on high until stiff peaks form.
  4. Transfer whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large closed-star tip.

To Assemble

  1. Set out the bowls that you are using for serving and evenly divide the Chocolate Mousse into each bowl, using a spoon to spread it around the bottom and up the sides to form a “nest” that covers the entire bottom of each bowl.
  2. Pipe your whipped cream inside the “nest” until it is completely filled
  3. Place powdered sugared cake cut-outs around the bowl.
  4. Strategically place berries around the cake cut-outs and top with chocolate shavings, if desired.
  5. Serve immediately. Make sure to share a pic to Instagram and tag me so I can see what you’ve created!

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Dessert Bowls Dessert Bowls Reviewed by Cake Lover on February 20, 2018 Rating: 5
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