Italian Trifle with Marsala Syrup
In Italy, Fabio Trabocchi makes this dessert with Alchermes, a bright-red cinnamon-scented liqueur rarely seen in the States. The Sicilian fortified wine Marsala is a good substitute: It has a subtler color but a similarly spiced flavor, perfect for drenching squares of soft sponge cake layered with vanilla-infused pastry cream.
Green Bean Casserole with Goat Cheese, Almonds and Smoked Paprika
Inspired by classic green bean casseroles from his childhood, F&W’s Justin Chapple put a Spanish spin on this timeless favorite by topping the creamy beans with smoky pimentón de la Vera and toasted almonds.
Spiced Cashew Brittle and Chocolate Crunch Bark
Cayenne-spiked cashew brittle is delicious alongside crunchy chocolate bark.
Shredded Parmesan Brussels Sprouts
Why are these ridiculously easy brussels sprouts so good? First they’re coarsely shredded, which gives them an appealing texture. Then the sprouts are roasted in a hot oven until they’re lightly charred, which enhances their nutty sweetness. They’re finished with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, which melts into the leaves.
Chocolate-Chip-Pecan Cookie Bars
Feel free to swap walnuts or almonds for the pecans, or use half nuts and half dried cranberries for tart, chewy bars.
Sticky Toffee Pudding Eggnog
Eben Freeman’s foamy interpretation of eggnog—infused with the sweet, caramelly flavors of sticky toffee pudding, a British favorite—is halfway between a drink and a dessert. “It’s thick enough to eat with a spoon,” he says. “So was classic eggnog.”
Lasagna-Style Baked Pennette with Meat Sauce
This hearty, meaty baked pasta is chef Tom Valenti’s ultimate make-ahead meal. “It’s actually better the next day,” he says. “I always make more than I think we’ll need—and we always eat all of it.”
Pecan halves sautéed with butter, sugar, and ground ginger are positively addictive. Serve them with ice cream, a selection of cookies, or fruit desserts, or on their own after dessert as petit fours. They’re quick to make and, presented in tins, are great holiday gifts. If you prepare the pecans more than two days ahead, add another half teaspoon of ginger, since the flavor dissipates over time.
Herbed Crème Fraîche Dip with Crudités
“Crudité is one trend from the ’80s I wish would make a big comeback,” says food blogger Pim Techamuanvivit. Although Pim usually serves the vegetables whole, occasionally she’ll slice them paper-thin on a mandoline and toss the strips together.
Crusty Baked Shells & Cauliflower
Even sautéed cauliflower feels decadant in this cheesy-crunchy baked pasta from Ina Garten. Be careful not to overcook your pasta, as it will continue to cook in the oven.
Coconut Chocolate Candy Bars
The candy bars can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Smoky Deviled Eggs
Smoky Spanish pimentón makes these eggs distinctive. It is available at specialty food stores.
Cheesy Mixed Pasta Casserole with Mushrooms
Melissa Rubel Jacobson created this recipe to use up extra dried mushrooms and odds and ends of pasta. While the different pasta shapes cook at different rates in the water, they all become tender once baked.
Parmesan Potato Puffs
These light potato puffs are slightly flattened to hold chopped olives and basil.
Spinach Salad with Citrus and Roasted Beets
Curly leaf spinach has great texture and flavor and holds this mustardy dressing well. For additional color, feel free to use a variety of different colored beets. You can also swap blood oranges for the tangerines.
Herbed Polenta and Parmesan Gratin
Maria Helm Sinskey, culinary director of Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa Valley and author of the phenomenal cookbook The Vineyard Kitchen, created this indulgent baked polenta, made with plenty of Parmesan. It’s just as good when made ahead and reheated as it is when it comes straight out of the oven.
This nutty, dense, not-too-sweet cake gets quite a kick from rum.
Creamy Spinach-and-Shrimp Dip
This is a variation on a cocktail-party classic.
Cinnamon flavors lots of holiday drinks, from eggnog to mulled wine. Here it appears in a juicy punch that’s delicious spiked with Grand Marnier or Cognac.
Lemony Mushroom-and-Pine-Nut Stuffing Muffins
A mix of sautéed wild mushrooms adds lots of texture to this stuffing; lemon juice and zest make it tangy. The mushroom stuffing can be made vegetarian-friendly simply by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock.
Turnip Casserole with Porcini Crumb Topping
We love the earthy porcini topping on this rich and creamy turnip gratin, but it would also be fantastic on mac and cheese or other root vegetable gratin.
Chocolate-Raspberry Swiss Roll
Maria Helm Sinskey created this delicious cake as an homage to the classic European princess cake; her simpler version substitutes whipped cream for pastry cream and a luscious chocolate glaze for marzipan.
Herb-Topped Sweet Potato Biscuits
These biscuits get a kick from cayenne pepper and an aromatic lift from fresh herbs. Mashing the sweet potatoes with a fork means that the biscuits will be flecked throughout with orange.
Stuffed Cherry Peppers
This is an easy antipasto to make ahead and have on hand for company.
Swiss Chard and Leek Gratin
This gratin combines blanched chard and sautéed leeks, cooked until just tender in a creamy two-cheese sauce made with both Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Chicken Liver Pâté with Pistachios
Marcia Kiesel’s pâté makes an elegant holiday gift presented in a pretty porcelain ramekin with crackers or crispy wafers. The buttery, earthy pâté can be spread on crostini, stuffed into Cognac-poached prunes, or even shaped into small balls and deep-fried with sage leaves.
Fudgy Pecan Streusel Bars
A buttery shortbread crust forms the base for these chewy, chocolaty bars.