Holiday desserts are my worst vice so I’m thankful that they are in abundance only once a year. When else do you find the glorious holiday flavors of gingerbread, eggnog or peppermint? It’s rare. Holiday desserts almost seem to take on the magic of the season. These desserts with their festive flavors and familiar aromas remind us of our childhood and we can’t help but recall making gingerbread cookies with grandma, sipping on some eggnog while adorning the tree with your favorite ornaments, helping mom make fudge for the neighbors. Holiday desserts are an experience, not just a treat, and they should be created with that kept in mind. Below, we have compiled a list of our top 3 holiday faves but you can click here for tons more. Which is your fave?
- Peppermint Brownies
This minty chocolate deliciousness won our number one spot because of its ease, deliciousness and rarity. Surprisingly, we don’t see a lot of people making this dish even though it’s a completely logical mix. Boxed brownies- is there anything easier or more classic? The answer is a hard No. Mix in peppermint candies to give it that Winter Wonderland feel, and all your coworkers will think you are Martha Stewart and begin pressing you for your “homemade peppermint brownie recipe.” Tell them it’s your grandma’s secret, from-scratch recipe. Your secret is safe with us.
Line a 9×9 inch metal baking pan with parchment paper and grease lightly with non-stick spray. Mix up brownie mix according to package directions. Pour half of the brownie mix into the pan and top with peppermint bark candies. Drop remaining brownie mix in spoonfuls over the top of the peppermint bark candies and spread gently. Bake according to the package directions (about 45 minutes) but be sure to not over bake. Allow to cool, cut and enjoy!
- Red Velvet Cake
Our #2 winner is also a unique take on a classic recipe. RED- The official holiday color. So it makes total sense to whip up something with red velvet to fit in with the holiday theme. Fancy it up with sugared cranberries and you’ve won Christmas dinner with your fam.
1 2-layer size package German chocolate cake mix
1 8 – ounce container dairy sour cream
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup cooking oil
1 1 – ounce bottle red food coloring (2 tablespoons)
White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 cups coconut shards, purchased coconut chips or flaked coconut, toasted
Sugared cranberries (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9×1-1/2-inch round cake pans or two 8x8x2-inch square baking pans or coat with nonstick spray for baking; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat cake mix, sour cream, water, oil, eggs, and food coloring with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Beat mixture on medium speed for beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. Spread batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake cakes for 25 to 30 minutes for 9-inch pans or 30 to 35 minutes for square pans or until a toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks.
Spread White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and over sides and top of the cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Cover and chill cake to store. If you like, garnish with sugared cranberries. Makes 12 to 16 servings.
- Roasted Pears with Lemon Cream and Roasted Pine Nuts
Our #3 winner is the show stopper. Complex enough to be served at a 5 star restaurant and embodying that old school holiday feel, this roasted pear dessert will be the talk of the Christmas celebration. It makes for an amazing presentation so be prepared to wow…. As long as you are up for the challenge. It takes about 45 min of prep time.
Candied Pine Nuts
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lemon curd
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whipping cream, chilled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 of a lemon
8 medium Bosc pears
3/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 whole cloves
Candied Pine Nuts
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a dry, medium heavy skillet, toast pine nuts over medium-low heat, shaking frequently, until golden and aromatic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a dish; set aside. In the same skillet, cook sugar over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt. Shake pan occasionally, but do not stir. Once the sugar begins to melt, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until fully melted and golden brown. Stir in pine nuts. Pour onto prepared baking sheet. Cool completely. Break or chop into small pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
In a chilled medium bowl, beat lemon curd and sour cream with an electric mixer until just combined. Add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened and mounds. Chill, covered, for up to 8 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees . Squeeze lemon into a large bowl half full of cool water. Peel pears, leaving stems, and cut a thin slice off bottoms. (Submerge pears upright in water as you work.) In a saucepan, combine apple juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until butter melts and sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Pat pears dry and arrange upright in a 3-quart baking dish. Pour syrup over pears. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender and beginning to brown, basting with syrup occasionally. (If syrup thickens too much, add water to pan.) If not serving immediately, pears can sit at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 hours. Rewarm slightly before serving. To serve, arrange pears on dessert plates or a platter. Drizzle with some of the syrup. Dollop Lemon Cream around pears. (Gently stir first if necessary.) Sprinkle with Candied Pine Nuts. If desired, pass remaining syrup, cream and nuts.