15 Festive Holiday Dessert Recipes

Yule Log or Buche de Noel | ZoeBakes

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 a humble (but delicious!) cookie, this list of Christmas desserts has something for everyone.

Looking for even more holiday favorites? You’ll find something for everyone in these recipe lists:

And don’t forget these helpful guides:

Christmas and Holiday Desserts (and Chanukah, too!)

A croquembouche (kroke-em-boosh) is a tower of profiteroles (cream puffs) stuck together with a thin layer of crisp caramel, which gives the dessert its name, “crocque em bouche” or “crunches in the mouth.” This dramatic pile of puffs is typically served at weddings, but I’ve taken liberties and find it a worthy dessert for any big occasion.
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This classic French dessert is elegant and beautiful, and a fun way to serve cake at Christmas. The Yule Log look adds whimsy and the flavors and decorations can be tailored to your liking.
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This delicious sugar cookie recipe is a classic from Dorie Greenspan. The buttery, delicious cookies are perfect for decorating and are a tasty treat for parties or gifting.
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This Parsnip Cranberry Cake is the sophisticated cousin to Carrot Cake. It is just as satisfying and comforting as the carrot version, but it is all its own flavor and delicious. It is perfect with the tangy-sweet cream cheese frosting and tart candied cranberry garnish.
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These Russian Tea Cakes look like little snowballs, making them perfect holiday cookies. The toasted pecans, brown butter and sugar make for a delicious cookie that is beautiful, simple and elegant.
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The hazelnut candies adorning this glazed cheesecake look like delicate little jewels and add a wonderful sweet crunch to the smooth and rich chocolate cheesecake. The result is a striking look and flavor.
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These jelly filled doughnuts are served during Hanukkah. The pillowy fried dough can be filled to your liking, and jelly is the classic option. Dip them in ganache or glaze for a little extra sweetness and a picturesque look.
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Basque cheesecake with its mahogany-colored top and super-rich custardy interior is one of my all-time favorite desserts. I was inspired by the season to add roasted pumpkin and spices to the cheesecake base and it may not be traditional, but it’s delicious.
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This is like the most elegant brownie-cake you've ever had. That really doesn't do it justice, but you know that fudge texture of a perfectly baked brownie, where the top has a nice crust and the inside is smooth and rich? This is that, but even better and somehow lighter. I gilded the lily with candied hazelnuts.
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The perfumed sweetness of the pears in this cake meets the warmth of candied ginger and cardamom to create a sophisticated combination that tastes as comforting as Grandma's house feels.
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This pie from Shauna Sever's book, Midwest Made, is all about the deep chocolate flavor. Be sure to use a high quality, bitter chocolate (70-75% cacao) or the pie can get very sweet, FAST! In her book the pie is topped with a homemade Cool Whip, which is 100% in keeping with the traditional pie. I left the cream unstabilized and unsweetened, because I like the contrast of the sweet filling to the clean, rich cream on top, you choose which way to go.
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I think a pavlova is the perfect holiday dessert. It is beautiful enough to be a centerpiece on your table, so light that it can follow a big holiday meal and its flavors can change with your every whim.
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This cheesecake is topped with some beautiful red fruits, including sugared cranberries. The tartness combined with the crisp sugar coating is a perfect compliment to the smoothness of the cake.
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This cinnamon star bread looks complicated and fancy, so you'll be surprised at just how simple it is to make!
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This peanut butter pie recipe is oh-so delicious. With a graham cracker crust, a smooth peanut butter filling made with cream cheese, a layer of chocolate ganache, and a whipped cream and candied peanut topping, this dessert is deluxe and irresistible. Be sure to chill this pie for two hours or overnight before serving.
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9 thoughts to “15 Festive Holiday Dessert Recipes”

  1. I am going to make your individual Tiramisu recipe for party – what size PVC did you buy? I have acetate but wonder how easy they are to remove from mold and acetate. HELP

    1. Hi Sharon! The inside dimension of the PVC is 2.5 inches. The outside dimension 2 3/4 inches. Zoe had it cut and then buffed. Buffing is not crucial. Be sure to line it with acetate. Enjoy!

  2. Stephani – you were so helpful before, I am hoping you can answer two more questions:
    1) why Amaretto instead of Kahlua or Rum. I’m not familiar with Amaretto so don’t know what it tastes like and I do find Kahlula a little sweet. I’ve seen Rum used also.
    2) I know the Savoiardi are sort of stale, has Zoe ever thought of letting the sponge cakes get a little stale? I am going to make the sponge cake ahead and freeze until Friday night when I’ll be assembling the Tiramisu.

    Thanks for any help

    1. Hi Sharon! Kahlua and Amaretto are equally sweet, so if you’d like it a little less sweet, rum or brandy would work. Freezing your sponge cake ahead and assembling later on should work just fine. Just wrap well with plastic wrap and foil. Since Zoë developed this recipe with fresh sponge cake, she doesn’t recommend letting it get stale, unless you adjust the recipe to add more of the soak. You would need to play that by ear as you go. I hope this helps!

  3. I was wanting to make Zoe’s red velvet cake from her cookbook, Zoe Bakes Cakes, that I recently bought.
    I noticed it is quite different from the RVC recipe she has on her blog – that one has no eggs and the cookbook has 4 eggs and 5 egg yolks. Can you tell me the difference in the two cakes in regards to texture and density.
    I am making this for 2 of my nieces that love “traditional” RVC. Thank you for your time!

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