Top Holiday Desserts
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Swiss Rolls
Fudgy cake, fluffy peanut butter filling and a chocolate ganache coating combine to form the perfect sweet indulgence from pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac of DC's Buttercream Bakeshop.
Miracle Peanut Butter Crunch
This flaky candy, from Nicole Haley of Mirracole Morsels, combines layers of crisp caramel, creamy peanut butter and crunchy peanuts. Incredibly, it takes just 20 minutes to make and the only special equipment you need is a heatproof candy thermometer. Be sure to buy the freshest, highest-quality peanut butter and peanuts you can find.
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.
"These scones are basically my excuse to eat gingerbread for breakfast," says Claire Ptak of Violet, a cult London bakery. She adds whole-wheat flour and molasses for a rich and hearty flavor.
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.
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.
Blood Orange Soufflés
Pastry chef Jen Yee of NYC's Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery uses blood oranges at the height of their season to make her tangy warm souffles in orange cups
This amazing chocolate babka from pastry chef Melissa Weller at Sadelle's in New York City gets extra flavor in the swirl from chocolate cookie crumbs. As a bonus, the tender-crumbed babka is topped with a thick and luscious chocolate glaze.
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.
Banana and Chocolate Cream Pie Parfaits
To make her outstanding deconstructed banana cream pie, pastry chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka, of Honolulu's MW Restaurant, layers eggless chocolate pudding with cinnamon-flavored graham cracker crumbs, ice cream, bananas and banana whipped cream.
Chocolate Pot de Crème with Candied Brioche Whipped Cream
Chef Gavin Kaysen of Minneapolis's Spoon & Stable created this dessert in honor of his grandmother Dorothy. "She used to make a big bowl of chocolate pudding and then set it in the middle of the table with a handful of spoons," he recalls.
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.
Seven-Layer Dobos Torte
This version of the classic Hungarian dessert is made with layers of moist sponge cake and silky chocolate buttercream, then topped with toasted meringue.
Chocolate-Malt Stump de Noël
Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito worked together to create this stupendous holiday dessert, a twist on the classic, elegant French bûche de Noël (so called because it looks like a log, or bûche). To make their version, the Baked duo roll up frosted cake strips to form an enormous round, then set the dessert on its side to look like a huge tree stump. It’s much tastier than a traditional bûche, because the layers are made with less egg so they’re less spongy.
Gingerbread Roll with Cinnamon Cream
Forget the typical yule log, this gingerbread dessert is perfect for any holiday gathering.
Père Roux's Cake
Père Roux refers to Father Roux, a New Orleans priest and cook who is one of chef John Besh’s friends. Besh fashioned this recipe after one that Père Roux bakes for himself every year on his birthday, with layers of white cake and a buttery banana filling with plenty of rum, all topped with a cream cheese frosting.
Mini Cheesecakes with Wine Gelées
Pastry chef Kate Zuckerman thinks most cheesecakes are too heavy and sweet. Her recipe uses goat cheese to lighten the texture and tangy crème fraîche to cut the sweetness. Here, she tops mini cheescakes with wine gelées—a new kind of wine-and-cheese-pairing.
Cream Puffs with Chocolate Sauce
At Christmas, Elizabeth Katz 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.
Riesling Gelée with Strawberry Conserve
Holiday Make-Ahead Tip: The gelée can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
This decadent pear-and-caramel trifle is perfect for a party because it can be made a day ahead and it serves a crowd.
Chocolate Truffle Layer Cake
This outrageous chocolate cake was born from a lucky mistake. Pastry chef Kimberly Sklar was baking a crème fraîche-spiked chocolate cake and, by accident, took the pan out of the oven early. Discovering that the cake was superfudgy, she layered it with dark chocolate and white chocolate ganache, then covered it in dark chocolate frosting.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
On a trip to London, pastry chef David Guas noticed sticky toffee pudding on the menu at dozens of restaurants. Inspired, he created his own irresistible version, which has been a best-seller ever since. Guas likes to balance the buttery pudding with brandy-milk-punch ice cream, but a shot of brandy or Frangelico is lovely on a cold night as well.
Salted Caramel Pie
There are only 7 ingredients in this luscious pie. The caramel filling is rich and thick and delicious with a sprinkle of flaky fleur de sel.
Vanilla-and-Cider Panna Cottas with Spiced Ginger Cookies
Shawn McClain tops his cinnamon-and-vanilla-flavored panna cotta with an elegant apple-cider gelée. He equates the dessert to a Creamsicle because it successfully combines creamy and tangy flavors.
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.