50 Mouthwatering Holiday Desserts
Rum Cake with Key Lime Buttercream
Any dessert that involves rum and key lime is sure to be the star of the party. But what about one topped with sugared key limes and cranberries and a delectable buttercream frosting? Place a sweet treat that stunning—and tasty—on the dessert table, and it might just take the cake.
Ginger-Pumpkin Trifle with Vanilla Mascarpone Cream
Layers of pumpkin, mascarpone, crushed cookies, and a coffee mixture create this show-stopping holiday trifle.
Cranberry-Orange Tart with Browned Butter Crust
For a pretty presentation, top the tart with sugared cranberries: Steep whole berries in simple syrup in the refrigerator 8 hours, then roll in sugar and let stand 1 hour to dry.
Smith Island Cake
Cranberry-Pistachio White Chocolate Bark with Sea Salt
Microwaving the chocolate helps keep the temperature below 92°, ideal for tempering. Use the best-quality white chocolate you can find (not those labeled "baking chips").
Browned Butter Chess Pie
For a pretty presentation, prepare a second recipe of the piecrust and cut out shapes with a small cookie cutter. Attach them to the edge of the crust with egg wash, and then bake and fill as directed.
- Recipe: Browned Butter Chess Pie
Chocolate-Coconut Macadamia Pie
Macadamia nuts, chocolate, and espresso combine to make the filling of this decadent and delicious toasted coconut crust pie.
- Recipe: Chocolate-Coconut Macadamia Pie
A pinwheel of beautiful pears makes the perfect topping for this luscious pie.
- Recipe: Almond-Pear Pie
Double Chocolate Bread Pudding
White chocolate, dark chocolate, French bread, and a Caramel-Coffee Sauce drizzle combine to make one irresistible end to any meal.
- Recipe: Double Chocolate Bread Pudding
Instead of traditional pumpkin pie, try this rich, luscious cheesecake. The crust is made from gingersnap cookie crumbs. Yum!
- Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Swirl Pie with Gingersnap Crust
Nothing says cool weather comfort like pumpkin and gingersnap. Silky cream cheese gives this pie its fun swirl design.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Napoleons
Pumpkin desserts don’t just belong in a pie shell. Try puff pastry sheets layered with the key ingredient—pumpkin butter. It’s the perfect finish to a holiday meal.
Recipe: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Napoleons
Prepare these bite-size delights a few days in advance so that the bold bourbon flavor has time to mellow. With hints of vanilla and pecan, all rolled in powdered sugar, these are just right for a cocktail party.
Recipe: Bourbon Balls
Maple-Glazed Pumpkin-Cranberry Coffee Cake
This moist, pretty cake features your favorite fall flavors--warm spices, tangy cranberries, and sweet maple syrup.
Plum Upside Down Pudding Cake
Prepare this creamy dessert in a cast iron skillet. The buttermilk batter is the perfect complement to the sweet plums.
Recipe: Plum Upside Down Pudding Cake
Serve classic holiday flavor in a not-so-traditional way with these sweet tarts, which are as delicious as they are fun to nibble on.
Recipe: Pecan Tarts
Chocolate Coca Cola Cake
Whip up this Lowcountry favorite for an alternative to your everyday chocolate cake and a tasty addition to a casual holiday celebration.
Recipe: Chocolate Coca Cola Cake
Spice Cake with Tipsy Vanilla-Rum Sauce
If you're also serving to children, the sauce tastes just as good without the rum.
Coconut Buttermilk Pie
Impress your dinner guests with minimal effort. This simple pie includes toasted coconut, a buttermilk batter, and dots of semisweet chocolate morsels—all in a premade crust.
Recipe: Coconut Buttermilk Pie
Tres Leches Boston Cream Cake
Three different milks achieve the rich moistness of this spin on Boston Cream Pie.
Recipe: Tres Leches Boston Cream Cake
Creamy Cheesecake with Espresso Fudge Sauce
If you love the tangy flavor of cheesecake, try adding a new layer of decadence with rich espresso fudge.
Banana Crème Brûlée
Helpful Hint: Prepare these the night before; they need to chill in the fridge at least eight hours.
Recipe: Banana Crème Brulee
Nothing says comfort food like warm berries baked in a doughy crust. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Recipe: Berry Cobbler
Honey’s Carrot Cake
Enjoy the sweetness of carrots, spices, and pecans topped with a cream cheese frosting. Let the cake chill before serving so the frosting will set.
Recipe: Honey’s Carrot Cake
Slice into this easy-to-prepare tart made of lemon zest, eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and cornmeal baked in a pie shell and sprinkled with nutmeg.
Recipe: Lemon-Buttermilk Tart
Holiday Gingerbread with Molasses Whipped Cream
It just isn’t the holidays without the timeless flavor of gingerbread. Give this traditional dessert an extra kick with molasses whipped cream.
Caribbean Spice Cake
This dessert is incredibly simple and sure to wow friends and family. Just combine ingredients in a blender, pour into custard bowls, bake, and chill.
Recipe: Pumpkin Custard
Macadamia Nut Tart
Sometimes the best dessert has a tropical crunch. Place nuts in a tart shell and pour over a delicious caramel mix.
Recipe: Macadamia Nut Tart
White Chocolate-Key Lime Pie
Tame the tartness of this dessert by introducing rich white chocolate. It’s sure to become a holiday favorite.
Recipe: White Chocolate-Key Lime Pie
Serve up this traditional Mexican dessert with a citrus spin. The trick to achieving the right texture is sweetened condensed milk.
Recipe: Orange Flan
Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
Create a memorable dessert packaged in a pint-size liner. These too-cute-to-eat treats get their vibrant flavor from coconut extract.
This dessert classic is packed with nutty flavor and makes the perfect finger food for a party.
- Recipe: Chocolate-Walnut Brownies
Apple Huckleberry Tarts
Combine savory baked apples with the unexpected flavor of huckleberries.
Recipe: Apple Huckleberry Tarts
Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes
Try this simple, handheld version of a Southern staple for a sweet surprise.
Recipe: Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes
Graham Cracker Shortbread S’mores
Preparing these tasty treats makes a fun activity for the kids.
Chocolate Truffle Loaf with Raspberry Sauce
This frozen dessert is a chocolate lover’s dream. Drizzle with raspberry sauce—a cinch with frozen berries.
Float Away Layer Cake
The name says it all—one bite of layers of coconut, mango, and pineapple will transport you to a sunny tropical island.
Recipe: Float Away Layer Cake
Open-Face Apple Pie with Salted Pecan Crumble
The sweet cinnamon topping get its crunch from pecans and a pinch of Kosher salt.
Pineapple Upside-Down Gingerbread Cake
Pineapple Upside-Down Gingerbread Cake puts a holiday spin on a traditional cake that will have your guests coming back for more.
Chocolate-Earl Grey Pound Cake
For topping, you can either douse cake in the dark chocolate sauce or provide dipping bowls so guests can control the amount.
Recipe: Chocolate-Earl Grey Pound Cake
This rich chocolate cake gets a sensational finish from a Coffee-Bourbon Syrup. It's so delicious that you can skip the ice cream, and we never skip the ice cream.
Recipe: Chocolate-Bourbon Cake
Vanilla Buttermilk Crumb Cake
Cake flour helps to make this crumb cake light and airy.
Recipe: Vanilla Buttermilk Crumb Cake
Cake de Ron (Rum Cake)
For miniature Bundt cakes as pictured, fill each mini Bundt pan two-thirds full, and bake 35 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean.
Recipe: Cake de Ron (Rum Cake)
Bitters aren't just for cocktails. Here, they add unique flavor and aroma to a classic dessert.
Recipe: Banana Crumble
Instead of layering the honey and nut mixture between buttery layers of phyllo dough as you would do when making traditional baklava, here you spoon the mixture into mini phyllo tart shells. This is a great recipe for entertaining because your guests can pick these up with their fingers and not worry about making a mess.
Recipe: Baklava Tartlets
Substitute ½ teaspoon coconut extract for vanilla and almond extracts.
Recipe: Coconut Snowballs
Chocolate-Espresso Pots de Crème with Benne Seed Coins
Benne (an African word for sesame) seed cookies are a traditional Gullah recipe. The creamy chocolate mousse–like dessert makes a good contrast with these crispy treats. For a twist, we added coconut and almonds to give the cookie a sweeter flavor and extra texture.
Cranberry and Pistachio Brownie Bites
These fudgy treats—which you can make ahead and freeze in an airtight container, unsliced, for up to three weeks—are an ideal addition to a cocktail party menu.
Sweet Potato Tart with Cream Cheese-Pecan Crust
This delicious spin on sweet potato pie packs plenty of holiday flavor thanks to cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. It can be made ahead to suit your holiday schedule.
Lemon Soufflés with Raspberry Sauce
When I inherited my mother's wooden recipe box, inside were recipes in the handwriting of my mother, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother. My great-grandmother's soufflé was so simple, but it's just what you want at the end of a big meal: a light, lemony froth. Drizzling it with raspberry sauce enhances it, if that is possible.
Baked Pear Caramel with Berry Sauce
The berry sauce and lemon zest add just the right amount of tartness to the caramelized sugar, chopped pears, and vanilla.