16 Easy Holiday Desserts

Apple and Olive Oil Bundt Cake
Photo: Christopher Testani

From an amazing slow-cooker cheesecake to buttery vanilla shortbread, we have more than a dozen easy Christmas dessert recipes. Opt for a simple baking project before any holiday celebration and impress with presentation and flavor, from a luscious cinnamon glaze to candied oranges.

01 of 16

Chocolate-Peppermint Brownies

Chocolate-Peppermint Brownies
© Kristin Perers

These rich peppermint brownies toppped with crushed candy canes are from London's cult-favorite bakery Violet. If you can't find candy canes, use striped peppermint candies.

02 of 16

Jacques Pépin's Favorite Pound Cake

Jacques Pépin's Favorite Pound Cake
© Edward Pond

The French call pound cake quatre-quarts ("four-fourths") because it is made with equal parts flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Jacques Pépin's mother, aunt and cousin all have their versions. He likes to fold in candied citrus peels to make a French fruit cake; he also loves plain slices dipped in espresso.

03 of 16

Slow-Cooker Sour Cream Cheesecake

Slow-Cooker Sour Cream Cheesecake
© Ellie Miller

Cheesecake cooked in a slow cooker has an unbelievably silky texture because the machine steams the cake as it bakes. The toughest part about making it is resisting the urge to peek inside the slow cooker—the lid must stay closed to retain heat.

04 of 16

Buttery Vanilla Shortbread

Buttery Vanilla Shortbread
© Lucy Schaeffer

Make 24 shortbread cookies to pair with tart cherries. Holiday make-ahead tip: The shortbread can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

05 of 16

Bittersweet Chocolate-Truffle Tart with Candied Oranges

Bittersweet Chocolate-Truffle Tart with Candied Oranges
© Petrina Tinslay

Bittersweet chocolate and orange make a heavenly combination in this decadent and divine tart. The candied oranges can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

06 of 16

Almond Cake

https://www.foodandwine.com/assets/images/201402-r-almond-cake.jpg/variations/original.jpg
© Emily Farris

This is one cake that doesn't require any icing and takes 45 minutes to make. Enjoy it with a cup of coffee or dessert wine.

07 of 16

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin
© Con Poulos

Golden Delicious apples are perfect in this classic version of tarte tatin from chef Jonathan Waxman because they get perfectly tender while they bake but never lose their shape.

08 of 16

Raisin-Walnut Babka

Raisin-Walnut Babka
© Con Poulos

Pastry chef Melissa Weller of Sadelle's in New York City swirls this light and buttery babka with a golden raisin puree, studs it with dark raisins and walnuts and tops it with a luscious cinnamon glaze.

09 of 16

Cranberry and Orange Pavlovas

Cranberry and Orange Pavlova
© Stephanie Foley

This Pavlova has a secret: The whipped cream on top of the crisp meringue shell tastes a lot like a Creamsicle. Pastry chef Wendy Boys of Vancouver's Lumiere unconventionally flavors the Australian dessert with vanilla and fresh oranges, and then ⁠— in another break from tradition ⁠— tops it with cranberries and mint.

10 of 16

Cream Puffs with Chocolate Sauce

Cream Puffs with Chocolate Sauce
© Anna Williams

At Christmas, Elizabeth Katz of B.R. Guest Restaurants likes to create a tower of fluffy, chocolate-covered cream puffs. The dessert harkens back to her time as a pastry chef in the French kitchen at New York City's Daniel, where a croquembouche (a pyramid of custard-filled profiteroles draped in caramel and wrapped in spun sugar) was de rigueur at holiday dinners.

11 of 16

Vanilla-and-Cider Panna Cottas with Spiced Ginger Cookies

Vanilla-and-Cider Panna Cottas with Spiced-Ginger Cookies
© John Kernick

Shawn McClain tops his cinnamon-and-vanilla-flavored panna cotta with an elegant apple-cider gelee. He equates the dessert to a Creamsicle because it successfully combines creamy and tangy flavors.

12 of 16

Salted Caramel Pie

Salted Caramel Pie
Dana Gallagher

This supereasy caramel lovers' dream pie is from Simplethings Sandwich & Pie Shop in Los Angeles. The filling is sweetened condensed milk sprinkled lightly with sea salt and baked until thick and gooey, then chilled in a simple graham cracker crust.

13 of 16

Matcha Tea Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Matcha Tea Marshmallow Crispy Treats
Abby Hocking

Rice Krispies Treats are one of the easiest desserts of all time. This version, made with matcha tea powder, white chocolate chips, and flaky sea salt, amps up the nostalgic childhood treat.

14 of 16

Almond Crescents

Almond Crescents
© Christina Holmes

The perfect balance of nutty, buttery, and sugary, Dorie Greenspan's almond crescent cookies aim to please.

15 of 16

Chocolate Pretzel Crinkle Cookies

Chocolate Pretzel Crinkle Cookies
Greg DuPree

F&W Culinary Director at Large Justin Chapple uses gluten-free pretzels to make these festive, chewy cookies.

16 of 16

Apple and Olive Oil Bundt Cake

Apple and Olive Oil Bundt Cake
Christopher Testani

This apple and olive oil bundt cake offers a light, refreshing take on autumnal flavors.

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