Sure, you could put out a cookie plate, but why not also make a show-stopping croquembouche? Or a modern version of the yule log? From the most dazzling centerpieces to the humble (but delicious!) sugar cookie, this list of Christmas desserts has something for everyone.
Christmas Desserts (and Chanukah, too!)
Just look at this beautiful croquembouche. Can’t you imagine it adorning your holiday table? While traditionally a wedding dessert, I have turned this one into a Christmas centerpiece. The thin, crisp caramel and spun sugar threads give the dessert an almost twinkling look, or at the very least the feeling of Christmas gold. The mango pastry filling balances out the sweetness of the caramel, and will make you want a little mango in all your Christmas desserts. RECIPE.
Russian Tea Cakes
Given that Russian tea cakes look like snowballs, they are perfect for the holiday season. I love to gift these in a beautiful tin, and they also work wonderfully on a dessert tray or table, either as a complement or the centerpiece. Toasted pecans should be held in the same esteem as other holiday flavors, in my opinion, and Russian tea cakes are the perfect example of why. This recipe creates great flavor in such a simple way. RECIPE.
Sufganiyot (Jelly Doughnuts)
Sufganiyot are jelly filled doughnuts that are common during Chanukah. In fact, this is my family’s favorite Chanukah treat. The dough is light and sweet, with enough body to hold the jelly inside. The outside can be decorated however you please, making these a beautiful addition to the Festival of Lights. I’d add that these aren’t just for those who celebrate Chanukah. These are great for any holiday your family celebrates. RECIPE.
Parsnip Cranberry Cake
One of the most popular recipes on my site for the holidays is this parsnip cranberry cake from the wonderful Dorie Greenspan. The triple layer cake is stunning on the table, including once sliced, and the candied cranberries create a beautiful wintery decoration on top. The parsnip offers a comforting flavor akin to carrot cake and is perfect with a tangy, sweet cream cheese frosting. RECIPE.
Cardamom Pear Cake
This cake is beautiful enough to sit on your holiday dessert table, and perfectly balances some wonderful holiday flavors. Cardamom is a quintessential Scandinavian flavor for December baking, and the poached pears offer a subtle flavor that absorbs the wonderful spices to create this delicious celebratory cake. RECIPE.
There may be no better centerpiece to your holiday table than this boozy cherry pavlova. The cherries are cooked in champagne, cherry juice and a hint of sugar to create a luscious, boozy syrup, but the dessert is light enough to bookend a large meal with a little sweetness. I promise everyone will be impressed by the sight of this, and the flavor is just as good. RECIPE.
It’s not really Christmas until you’ve made the sugar cookies. This recipe is perfect for simple sugar cookies shaped to your heart’s desire, but I also show you how to craft an exquisite sugar cookie house, which I based off my own home. The cookies are also one of the first recipes I shared on my blog almost 15 years ago! RECIPE.
How can you have a holiday dessert list without a beautiful, wintry yule log? The classic French dessert is designed to look like a log to be tossed in your fireplace, and yet it also makes for a wonderful dessert centerpiece. You can also choose different fillings and styles of decoration to fit your own tastes and aesthetic. RECIPE.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Let’s end with one of the most classic dessert flavor combinations, shall we? Peanut butter and chocolate go together for every occasion, so I am a big believer in including them on your holiday table. This is a decadent comfort food dessert all the way, and is sure to be gobbled up by kids from one to 92. RECIPE.