Holiday Desserts

Save the best for last with these incredible sweet treats.

Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe

Photo: Rumulo Yanes

Light and Sweet Holiday Desserts

For a festive holiday dessert, you can't go wrong with velvety red cupcakes topped with creamy white swirled frosting.

To make a stylish swirl: Dot the thick frosting with a few drops of red food color paste, and stir gently to give it a swirled appearance. Carefully spoon into a zip-top bag, and pipe out.

View Recipe: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Raspberry Strippers

Becky Luigart-Stayner

Raspberry Strippers

The name may make you giggle, but these cookies are seriously good. A basic butter cookie is filled with preserves (you can use apricot, cherry, or any other fruit if you want), baked, and drizzled with a lemon-almond glaze. The recipe is really versatile; you can use the same dough to make thumbprint or other shapes of cookies, or use the glaze on a different cookie or another dessert like a pound cake.

View Recipe: Raspberry Strippers

Pear-Cranberry Pie with Oatmeal Streusel

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Pear-Cranberry Pie with Oatmeal Streusel

This pie's strength lies in the amalgamation of many different textures and flavors. Crisp pear and tart cranberries are held in an ooey-gooey brown-sugar filling, topped with a crunchy, nutty streusel. Using a premade crust means there's almost no work involved. Assembly takes maybe five minutes―throw it in the oven, and you're done.

View Recipe: Pear-Cranberry Pie with Oatmeal Streusel

Chocolate-Dipped Almond Meringues

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Chocolate-Dipped Almond Meringues

These sweet, crispy treats are light as air, but are kept grounded with a generous coating of chocolate. The meringues themselves are flavored with a subtle blend of almond and chocolate that perfectly matches their texture.

View Recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Almond Meringues

Sweet Potato Pie with Spiced Cream Topping Recipe

Photo: John Autry

Sweet Potato Pie with Spiced Cream Topping

Tangy cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk combine for a creamy contrast to the sweet potato layer. You can prepare this pie up to two days ahead and refrigerate.

View Recipe: Sweet Potato Pie with Spiced Cream Topping

Apple Kuchen Recipes

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Apple Kuchen

The sweet flavors of fall and winter are found in this dessert. Sweet fuji apples flavored with the fruit's classic spice of choice, cinnnamon, will make for a pleasing after-dinner treat.

View Recipe: Apple Kuchen

Crema Catalana Recipes

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Crema Catalana

Carmelized sugar houses a rich and creamy, custard surprise under its glass-like cover. You and guests will enjoy the body of flavor this sweet treat holds.

View Recipe: Crema Catalana

Pumpkin Pie Pudding Recipes

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

No time to make pumpkin pie? Try this pudding instead—a faster, easier, and healthier alternative.

View Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Spicy Caramel Brownies Recipe

Photo: John Autry

Spicy Caramel Brownies

These fudgy brownies have a thick, rich swirl of dulce de leche and a kick from ground red pepper. If you prefer a milder version, omit or reduce the pepper. Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature 15 minutes to take the chill off before using.

View Recipe: Spicy Caramel Brownies

Chocolate Walnut Tart Recipes

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Chocolate Walnut Tart

A riff on the classic pecan pie, this dessert is rich, chocolaty, and a little fancier with its freestanding fluted sides. Of course, you can use a 9-inch pie plate if you don't have a tart pan with a removable bottom.

View Recipe: Chocolate Walnut Tart

Ricotta Semifreddo Recipes

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Ricotta Semifreddo

"Semifreddo" is an Italian term that refers to any number of frozen or chilled desserts. Here we offer a frozen orange-scented mousse made with ricotta cheese. It's worth the effort to search out the best ricotta you can find.

View Recipe: Ricotta Semifreddo

Pear Tarte Tatin Recipes

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Pear Tarte Tatin

This dessert may be just as beautiful as it is delicious. Pears, always a festive holiday fruit, are surrounded by crispy sheets of phyllo dough to create an absolute palate pleaser.

View Recipe: Pear Tarte Tatin

Mocha Chocolate Sauce with Pound Cake Recipes

Photo: Ellen Silverman

Mocha Chocolate Sauce with Pound Cake

An easy, versatile chocolate sauce dresses up store-bought pound cake for a simple dessert offering. For a festive fondue dessert, substitute an orange-flavored liqueur like Triple Sec for the coffee-flavored one (or omit the liqueur altogether), and dunk fresh orange sections, dried apricots, marshmallows, or pretzel rods into the sauce. Or make this as a topping for reduced-fat ice cream. 

View Recipe: Mocha Chocolate Sauce with Pound Cake

Salted Chocolate Ganache Cake Recipes

Photo: Ellen Silverman

Salted Chocolate Ganache Cake

Choose a premium chocolate bar for this simple one-layer cake. Make up to one day ahead, and store in an airtight container.

View Recipe: Salted Chocolate Ganache Cake

Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Fudge Recipe

Photo: John Autry

Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Fudge

Just a pinch of instant coffee granules goes a long way when it comes to intensifying the chocolate flavor in the fudge. A sprinkle of peanuts gives a salty bite.

View Recipe: Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Fudge

Pumpkin Ice Cream Torte Recipes

Photo: Ellen Silverman

Pumpkin Ice Cream Torte

Here’s the secret: You can make this pumpkin torte well ahead and freeze it. The Sauce is jarred. The cook will be celebrated.

View Recipe: Pumpkin Ice Cream Torte

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake Recipes

Photo: Ellen Silverman

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

We love the zingy burst of cranberries, and their crimson hue enlivens a holiday spread. Since they have a short season, available throughout the holidays, freeze a few bags to stock up. Place the fresh fruit on a jelly-roll pan, and freeze. Transfer the frozen berries to zip-top plastic bags.

View Recipe: Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Satsuma Orange Cheesecake Recipes

Photo: Ellen Silverman

Satsuma Orange Cheesecake

We love showcasing seasonally abundant satsumas, a relative of the mandarin orange. The tang of cream cheese and sour cream in the filling rounds out the citrusy sweetness. Make up to three days ahead.

View Recipe: Satsuma Orange Cheesecake

Cardamom-Coconut Crème Caramel Recipes

Photo: Ellen Silverman

Cardamom-Coconut Crème Caramel

A prime make-ahead option, these delicately flavored custards make a light finish to a hearty Thanksgiving feast.

View Recipe: Cardamom-Coconut Crème Caramel

Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Tart Recipes

Photo: Ellen Silverman

Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Tart

Graham crackers and pecans encrust the spirited, spiced filling. Dollop each serving with sweetened whipped cream.

View Recipe: Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Tart

Gingerbread Cookies Recipes

Photo: Ellen Silverman

Gingerbread Cookies

Get a head start by baking cookies up to four days ahead and storing in an airtight container. Frost one day before serving; after frosting is set, pack cookies in airtight containers between layers of wax paper. This dough also makes fine slice-and-bake cookies. Form the dough in two (8-inch) round logs, and chill; slice the chilled logs into 1/8-inch rounds, and bake at 350° for 8 minutes or just until set and golden.

View Recipe: Gingerbread Cookies

Caramel Apple Pie Recipes

Photo: Ellen Silverman

Caramel Apple Pie

An iconic holiday dessert served with a quick caramel sauce, this pie won’t be on your table for long. Who can resist the crunch topping that blankets the even more irresistible sweet and delicious apple filling?

View Recipe: Caramel Apple Pie

Pear Pie with Streusel Topping and Caramel Sauce Recipes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Pear Pie with Streusel Topping and Caramel Sauce

Bartlett or Anjou pears work best in this pie. Be sure to purchase firm, slightly under-ripe fruit for this pie since the pears soften and give off juice as they cook.

View Recipe: Pear Pie with Streusel Topping and Caramel Sauce

Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars Recipes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars

These bar cookies strike a nice flavor balance: not too sweet and not too tart. Be sure to zest the orange before you squeeze the juice.

View Recipe: Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars

Yellow Butter Cake with Vanilla Meringue Frosting Recipes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Yellow Butter Cake with Vanilla Meringue Frosting

You'll find potato starch on the baking aisle at most of your local supermakets and health-food stores. Also known as potato flour, it helps ensure the cake will have a fine crumb and moist texture.

View Recipe: Yellow Butter Cake with Vanilla Meringue Frosting

 

Dark Chocolate Orange Cake

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Dark Chocolate Orange Cake

Chocolate and orange is a great flavor combination that's not as popular as it used to be. This dense and fudgy cake gives it a great comeback and makes good use of chocolate's bitter side as well as its sweetness. There's double chocolate flavor with both cocoa powder and and bittersweet chocolate, and double orange flavor with both juice and liqueur.

View Recipe: Dark Chocolate Orange Cake

Peppermint Brownie la Mode

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Peppermint Brownie à la Mode

Candy canes are everywhere this time of year, so put them to use in your cooking. This recipe blends them into chocolate chip ice cream to top a dense and chocolaty brownie. A hint of coffee flavor makes the brownie itself unique, and the minty topping is a sure-fire hit. If you really love peppermint, substitute mint chip ice cream for an extra dose of minty flavor.

View Recipe: Peppermint Brownie à la Mode

Tangy Ice Cream with Cashew Brittle Recipe

Photo: John Autry

Tangy Ice Cream with Cashew Brittle

This brittle is a deliciously festive treat that seems made for our Tangy Ice Cream. But, we are sure you will find many more ways to enjoy it too.

View Recipe: Tangy Ice Cream with Cashew Brittle

Cinnamon Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Cinnamon Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie

Condensed milk helps create a dense, moist, and creamy filling for this pie. Add the topping of pecans, oats, and spice, and you've got the perfect marriage of luscious and crunchy. Hearty and filling, this pie is a real taste of the season.

View Recipe: Cinnamon Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie

Gingerbread People

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Gingerbread People

Let your creativity run wild with these cute classics. Underneath, there's a tasty and reliable cookie spiced with ginger and other warm flavors, but the real fun is in the decorating. A basic glaze and colored sugar are your palette to create a varied cast of gingerbread people. Get the whole family involved!

View Recipe: Gingerbread People

Bourbon-Pecan Tart with Chocolate Drizzle

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Bourbon-Pecan Tart with Chocolate Drizzle

Pecan pie is often purely sweet with no undertones, but the bourbon, molasses, and chocolate in this beautiful centerpiece dessert all add complexity of flavor. It's also somewhat thinner than a pie, meaning you get more buttery, flaky crust in each bite.

View Recipe: Bourbon-Pecan Tart with Chocolate Drizzle

Lemon Polenta Cake with Winter Fruit Compote

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Lemon Polenta Cake with Winter Fruit Compote

It's amazing that such a simple recipe can yield such flavor. Adding cornmeal to a basic cake gives it an incredibly unique texture and sweet corn bread flavor. The tart compote of raisins, cranberries, and pear adds more flavor and keeps the cake moist. Just don't let anyone know how easy it was to make.

View Recipe: Lemon Polenta Cake with Winter Fruit Compote

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Recipes

Photo: Gentl & Hyers

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

A simple swirl on top of the cheesecake gives this holiday dessert an elegant touch. (Learn How to Make a Swirl Cheesecake). If the cranberry mixture gets too thick, add a tablespoon of water and whirl it around in the food processor. You can also make this in an 8-inch springform pan; it'll be very full, so you should cook over a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook time will be the same.

View Recipe: Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Chocolate-Cranberry Parfaits Recipes

Photo: Gentl & Hyers

Chocolate-Cranberry Parfaits

The cranberry steeping liquid clings to the berries and helps the sugar adhere for the sparkling, jewel-like effect shown here. You can use the liquid (which is drained from the cranberries) in cocktails or over ice cream. If you can't find mascarpone cheese, use regular cream cheese for the topping.

View Recipe: Chocolate-Cranberry Parfaits

Double-Ginger Pumpkin Flans

Photography: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Double-Ginger Pumpkin Flans

This is a great weekend recipe that takes some time but produces an elegant and delicious result that's worth the extra effort. Unsweetened pumpkin and fresh ginger add a seasonal and unexpected twist on creamy classic flan (also known as crème caramel). Make them for someone special.

View Recipe: Double-Ginger Pumpkin Flans

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Photo: Johnny Miller

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

A few easy additions to store-bought ice cream create a custom flavor that simply tastes like Thanksgiving.

View Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

No-Bake Cheesecake with Pecan Caramel

Photo: Johnny Miller

No-Bake Cheesecake with Pecan Caramel

Since we've nixed the baking (even of the crust), you save tons of time; you don't have to wait for the cheesecake to cool out of the oven. Make the cheesecake up to 3 days ahead, but prepare the caramel shortly before serving. It hardens quickly to a yummy praline-like texture.

View Recipe: No-Bake Cheesecake with Pecan Caramel

Carrot-Apple Spice Cake with Browned-Butter Glaze

Photo: Johnny Miller

Carrot-Apple Spice Cake with Browned-Butter Glaze

We challenged ourselves to come up with a showstopping dessert that uses boxed cake mix as a starting point--and we succeeded. Fresh carrot and apple plus a splash of bourbon boost the flavor of the layers, while the browned-butter glaze is, well, the wildly delicious icing on the cake.

View Recipe: Carrot-Apple Spice Cake with Browned-Butter Glaze

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