Sounds like my mom did a lot of stuff like your mom. I haven't had a coconut cream pie with meringue like my moms--ever. No one here likes it so I've never made it.
I was never a fan of meringue; I prefer a whipped cream topping. But the one thing my Mom could do with her meringue that I never saw anybody else do was, when cooked, having little gold oil balls (like those tiny sprinkles) appear. Supposedly, this is the high art of meringue making and not easy to do. Except for her, she had those little gold balls on her meringue every time.
Mom even made a good fruitcake. She was picky about how she made them. Guess that's why I like them. I was thinking of trying it this year even though I'll be the only one eating it. I suppose I could freeze it.
My Mom made a holiday pecan cake. Good, but I'm just not a fan of these types of 'cakes' because, without icing, it ain't cake.
Mom took a cake decorating class once and then all the cakes had flowers and roses on them and pretty scallops on the edges. I have a cake decorating set I drag out occasionally.
My Mom could do the scalloped icing, writing names and such, just couldn't make roses. When I've needed decorative icing on a cake, or even whipped cream/sour cream or even mashed potatoes, since I don't have a pastry bag, I use a zip lock bag with a corner cut out. I put the pastry tip in the corner and Voila! you have a pastry bag. No need to wash as it's disposable.
For someone who was never trained, Mom could be pretty creative with her cakes. I remember one particular cake she made, a two-layer chocolate cake with white icing, topped with green coconut. She'd stick jelly beans, small chocolate bunnies and the like all around the edge. On top, she'd put some peeps and other Easter animal candies, along with sprinkling around jelly beans and the like. She then made a handle of aluminum foil so that the cake looked like an Easter basket.
Mom didn't make brownies or chocolate chip cookies. I don't know why. She would make a bunch of different cookies at Christmas time--dozens and dozens for parties and to freeze. We had dessert every night and leftovers went into our lunch bags.
Fudge is not as easy to make as it looks. If not done right, it can come out grainy, tasty, but grainy. She had the knack and feel for desserts; I just wouldn't let her cook a pork chop -- shoe leather was softer. Her candy thermometer was something I remember her using often, getting things to soft/hard ball temp. And being the inquisitive brat that I was, I was always wondering about what a 'soft ball' or 'hard ball' was since it was food and not a sandlot game. She'd take the time to explain, though, pain that I was.
It was hell living in a bakery open 24/7. Hell, I tell ya.
The one time she decided to experiment on a dessert she had never made, it was a spectacular failure, a rare failure, but a failure. She tried to make flan. It was terrible. The family teased her about how she discovered the recipe for concrete patch. She vowed never to make that again, after getting all that good-natured ribbing. But that was her only failure, except when it was too humid to make divinity and she'd try anyway, hoping for the best. Now that wasn't a fault of anyone or thing other than the weather. And she knew there might be a problem going in. Once, the divinity ran like it was a pudding. Still tasted good, just did not come out like she wanted. For Mom, the weather report was an important part of many of her dessert recipes.
I had a pretty good sweet tooth until about 10 years ago and then I deliberately cut back. Too many diabetics in the family. Now I don't have much of a sweet tooth. I still love to bake though.
About the only dessert I'll make now is the occasional package of brownie mix, doctored of course. I'll buy a good brand of plain chocolate brownie mix and add chopped walnuts and extra Dutch-processed cocoa powder. I'll also make chocolate pudding, topped with whipped cream, of course.
The kids and I started a tradition of sorts a few years ago--there are certain candies and cookies we only make at Christmas--truffles, Russian tea cakes, rum balls, spritz, etc. It makes it all more special and taste really good when we finally make them!
Family food traditions are always good. It makes for memories that far outlast the person, as in my Mom's case.