Fast Christmas Desserts
These German raspberry-hazelnut macaroons require just five ingredients and are extremely no-fuss. Says Berlin-based blogger Luisa Weiss, "You just throw the dough together, heat up some jam and you're almost there."
Duane Sorenson gets together with his mother and sister to bake these buttery date-studded cookies every year for the holidays.
Roasted Pear Sundaes with Balsamic-Caramel Sauce
High-quality balsamic vinegar is dense and complex, so a little goes a long way in this sweet-tangy caramel sauce, which is also great drizzled over fresh fruit.
Warm Chocolate Cakes with Apricot-Cognac Sauce
Pairing Suggestion: Dried-fruit-and-caramel-scented tawny port.
Mini Black-Bottom Cheesecakes
Grace Parisi made several versions of these brilliant little jam-topped cheesecakes, substituting formage blanc and other tangy soft cheeses for the usual sour cream. Some versions were sweeter, others more tart; all were delicious. In these single-serving desserts from Parisi, the rich and creamy cheesecakes are baked atop a chocolate-wafer base. You don’t need any special equipment to make them—just a muffin tin and foil liners.
Caramel-Apple Ice Cream
Swirling caramelized apples with dulce de leche into vanilla ice cream makes for a delicious treat.
Chocolate Wafers with Ginger, Fennel and Sea Salt
Dark chocolate with a high cacao content is lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants than milk chocolate. For this ingenious snack, Grace Parisi coats wafer-thin crispbreads in dark chocolate so that they seem like candy bars studded with flaky Maldon sea salt, chewy crystallized ginger and candied fennel seeds.
Toasted Sesame Cookies
After baking at health-food stores, Sarah Kelby Lewis created Sustenance, her line of sweets that uses alternative sugars, which she sells at Pittsburgh’s Public Market.
Caramelized-Pineapple Baked Alaskas
Baked Alaska is a layer of cake covered with ice cream and meringue and broiled. In this version, Grace Parisi skips the cake: Instead, she tops ice cream (preferably coconut) with pineapple chunks that have been sautéed with store-bought dulce de leche, then spoons a quick meringue over the fruit and broils until golden.
Mini Chocolate-Hazelnut Cheesecakes
Grace Parisi breaks up whole, cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies in a food processor with hazelnuts and butter to create a supercrunchy crust for these delectable little cheesecakes. The cream filling in the cookies both sweetens the crust and prevents it from becoming too crumbly.
Double-Chocolate Hot Chocolate
Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito firmly believe that homemade hot chocolate is superior to any commercial mix. They make their decadent version with both bittersweet and milk chocolate and then top it with marshmallows that they make and sell at Baked.
Dark-Chocolate Pudding with Candied Ginger
“For me, ginger should be everywhere,” says Jean-Georges Vongerichten. “It’s as good in marinades and vinaigrettes as it is in dessert.” Here, candied ginger garnishes dark-chocolate pudding.
Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake
Rich, buttery and deeply flavorful, this killer sticky toffee cake from Abigail Quinn at Proof Bakeshop in Atlanta is the ultimate holiday dessert.
These rich peppermint brownies topped with crushed candy canes are from London's cult-favorite bakery Violet. If you can't find candy canes, use striped peppermint candies.
At her new Chicago restaurant, Monteverde, chef Sarah Grueneberg uses egg yolks in her exceptional pasta, then transforms the whites into these delicious classic Southern cookies that are barely baked, then left in the oven overnight to develop their wonderful crispy-chewy texture.
Crispy Quinoa Brittle
To add some protein and extra crunch to her brittle, F&W's Kay Chun makes it with toasted quinoa and sesame seeds.
Sticky Drunken Pears
These elegant pears, from Claire Ptak at London's cult-favorite Violet Bakery, are baked in a sweet wine syrup that becomes a wonderful glaze.