35 Best Holiday Desserts
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White Christmas Peppermint Layer Cake
Chocolate Cream Pie
The filling of this chocolate-crust pie is luscious, but not too rich. (Think old-fashioned chocolate pudding.) A bit of sour cream in the whipped topping balances the chocolate perfectly.
Red Velvet Cheesecake
We took the red velvet cake that we love and gave it a creamy twist. Don't let the red color fool you: The flavor of this holiday dessert is all chocolate.
These five-ingredient truffles come together in a snap. Blending jam into the chocolate makes for a subtle fruit flavor perfectly balancing the rich, smooth chocolate. The recipe comes from Annie Marshall of the Indianapolis-based blog Annie's Eats.
Bet You Can't Eat Just One Sugar Cookies
These melt-in-your-mouth cookies come from the recipe file of Georgia Morehouse of Columbia, Missouri. Her family insists she bake at least one batch for New Year's Eve. Sprinkle them with colored sugar right before they bake to add quick and easy sparkle to this holiday dessert.
Nutella Cherry Hazelnut Fudge
Chocolate-hazelnut spread (Nutella) gives this fudge a smooth texture and luscious nutty flavor. The recipe comes from Annie Marshall of the Indianapolis-based blog Annie's Eats.
Cafe Latte's Turtle Cake
In 1985, Cafe Latte in Saint Paul created the Turtle Cake that's still on the menu today. It's a moist, rich, three-layer wonder. The cake layers are dark chocolate frosted with rich fudge and caramel and topped with a generous garnish of giant pecans.
Eggnog Cheesecake Bars
A spiced graham cracker crust and bourbon-infused egg nog filling give these simple bars a delicious holiday twist. The recipe comes from Annie Marshall of the Indianapolis-based blog Annie's Eats.
Peppermint Brownie Pie
This rich blend of two favorite holiday flavors—chocolate and mint—might start a new dessert tradition in your house. Can't find the mint-flavored pieces? Use regular chocolate chips and add 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract to the batter.
Baby Citrus Cheesecakes
This make-ahead dessert stores in the freezer for up to a month, ready to serve surprise guests. Vanilla or chocolate wafers form an easy base for the creamy filling. The center dips slightly after cooling, making an indentation to fill with whipped cream.
These easy candies look elegant but are simple to make. This holiday dessert recipe comes from chef Anthony Schulz at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls in Logan, Ohio. He says kids, especially, have fun making these truffles.
Peppermint Stick Brownies
A creamy, peppermint-flavor cheesecake layer adds holiday flair to classic chocolate brownies.
Orange-Ginger Cookie Sandwiches
A round cookie cutter with scalloped edges makes a nice shape for these cookies, but bell, tree or star cutters would also be good choices for the holidays.
Fantasy Chocolate Pie
Dream about all the ingredients you'd like to see in a dessert, and you'll see why we named this Fantasy Chocolate Pie. This holiday dessert recipe includes three kinds of chocolate pieces (milk chocolate, semisweet and semisweet-and-white-chocolate swirled)—plus coconut, pecans and almonds. For extra indulgence, top with whipped cream and chocolate curls.
Fudge: Classic or festive
Fudge has a special place on many holiday tables. Midwest Living® Travel Editor Kendra Williams shared this Easy Fudge recipe; her grandparents made it every year, and it's just not Christmas without it. The other recipes add a festive touch to fudge: One has peppermint extract and is topped with peppermint candies; the second blends white chocolate, almonds, and either dried cherries or cranberries.
Holiday Seven-Layer Bars
Chocolate, nuts, coconut and more fill our easy-to-make bar cookies. Mixed dried fruit bits and candy-coated milk chocolate pieces are among the layers that make this bar cookie distinctive.
Fabulous Red Velvet Cake
We gussied up chocolate cake mix with sour cream and red food coloring for this festive cake. Then, we crowned the holiday dessert with a white chocolate-cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut.
Triple Peanut Butter Streusel Bars
Dry-roasted peanuts, peanut butter-flavored pieces and peanut butter bring triple flavor to this make-ahead bar cookie.
Iowa Buche de Noel
A yule log cake is the traditional centerpiece of the French Christmas dessert table. This version was created by a Keokuk, Iowa cooking school instructor. Add a dusting of powdered sugar for a snowy finish to this holiday dessert.
Buzz Cafe Butter Cookie Cutouts
"We use this recipe year-round for all of the holidays," says Laura Maychruk, co-owner of Buzz Cafe in Oak Park, Illinois (10 miles west of Chicago's Loop). "For Christmas, we make snowflakes and Christmas trees. The cookies are delicious even without the icing." If you want to store this holiday dessert at room temperature, use a butter icing.
Poppy Seed Torte
This four-layer cake, with a pudding-like filling and whipped cream frosting, is the most popular dessert at the White Gull Inn, Fish Creek, Wisconsin.
Graham crackers form the base for this bar cookie with layers of marshmallows, brown sugar, almonds and coconut. "I've made these cookies each Christmas since 1984," says Georgine Simmonds of Genesee, Michigan. "They're one of my family's favorites."
Double Chocolate-Espresso Truffle Pie
Do you have a chocoholic in your family? Give them something to love with this über-rich pie. For pretty chocolate curls, warm a bar of milk chocolate in your pocket or hand, then shave with a sharp vegetable peeler.
Cornmeal Pumpkin Cake with Dried Fruit Compote
Riesling-poached fruit and billowy whipped cream crown a dense spice cake inspired by ingredients from the first Thanksgiving.
Russian Creme Custard
Luscious and smooth, this elegant holiday dessert gets a swirl of crimson raspberry sauce. The recipe is from Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minnesota.
Three creamy cheesecakes
These three colorful cheesecakes are especially good to serve at the holidays. Cranberry-Chocolate Cheesecake (top) uses cranberries both in the filling and in the sauce. White Chocolate Candy Cane Cheesecake (middle) is a variation on the mascarpone cheesecake made at Parkview Gourmet specialty foods in Libertyville, Illinois. Very Berry Cheesecake (bottom) uses both fresh berries and berry-flavored brandy, vodka or orange juice for its flavor.
Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
This gooey-center, intense chocolate dessert is among guests' favorite treats at Kirby House Bed and Breakfast in Saugatuck, Michigan
White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Hard Sauce
Zingerman's Roadhouse restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has come up with a winning version of bread pudding. It's filled with dried cherries, white baking bar and vanilla bean - perfect for a holiday dessert.
Ginger-Cinnamon Apple Crisp
"This is a twist on a popular dish and is one of my personal favorites," says April Osburn from the Clabber Girl Bake Shop in Terre Haute, Indiana. Thinly slice the apples so they get done in the allotted baking time.
Choose a chocolate or apricot filling for this swirled pastry that's a holiday tradition from the family of Midwest Living Food & Features Editor Hannah Agran.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Chicago's MK the Restaurant used an English tradition as inspiration for this molasses-date holiday dessert with honey-toffee sauce. Buttery toffee originated in England, but a Robinson, Illinois, company named Heath launched an empire when it began making toffee commercially in 1914.
This dazzler from Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri, tastes as good as it looks. The dark chocolate cookie crust and ruby red berries add dramatic flair to the orange-flavor filling. Because the cake keeps well for two days, this is a great make-ahead dessert.
Ultimate Chocolate-Mint Cookie Sandwiches
These cookies have the gooey factor going for them. They're a soft chocolate cookie sandwiched with mint filling and a swirl of fudgy frosting on top.
White Chocolate Crème Brulee
You don't need a fancy culinary blowtorch to make the crackly top on this classic dessert. Our recipe includes a simple stovetop technique. This holiday dessert recipe comes from the French Lick Resort in Indiana.
Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies
Flecks of nuts and fruit make these buttery cookies perfect for a holiday cookie exchange or gift box. The recipe comes from the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls in Logan, Ohio.