Heavenly Holiday Desserts
No Southern table is complete without these holiday dessert recipes from our Test Kitchen. Of course when it comes to Christmas desserts, we’re known for our Big White Cakes, but we also have charming cheesecakes, crowd-pleasing pound cakes, and layer cakes from coconut to gingerbread with buttermilk frosting. If you’re looking for holiday desserts that stop the show, look no further than our Praline Cream-Beignet Tower or Mexican Hot Chocolate Trifle. We also have you covered on holiday desserts that we like to call “easy wow” perfect for toting to a cookie swap–like white chocolate chip cookies–or holiday party from Ambrosia Streusel Bars to Layered Eggnog Blondies. These fabulous holiday dessert recipes taste divine and will absolutely dazzle on your Christmas dessert table. Prepare to impress!
Holiday Mocha Fudge
This Holiday Mocha Fudge is a decadent treat for the Christmas season.
Cherry-Spice Cake Trifle
Praline Cream-Beignet Tower
Recipe: Praline Cream-Beignet Tower
Make the praline filling and dough up to two days ahead.
Cranberry Dreamsicle Trifle
Recipe: Cranberry Dreamsicle Trifle
Effortless to pull off? Check. Tastes better the longer it sits? Check. Make this beauty up to one day before company arrives.
Recipe: Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake
Don't worry if your cheesecake cracks; the light and fluffy layer of whipped cream will cover it.
Gingerbread Baked Alaska
Recipe: Gingerbread Baked Alaska
The mixing bowl from a heavy-duty stand mixer makes a perfect mold for assembling the cake and ice cream. Be sure your plastic wrap extends well beyond your bowl to completely cover your cake and ice cream mixture.
Triple Chocolate Brownie-Mousse Stacks
Allow plenty of time to make fillings, and immediately assemble stacks. You can chill the assembled stacks up to 24 hours ahead of time.
Coconut-Macadamia Nut Pound Cake
Recipe: Coconut-Macadamia Nut Pound Cake
Lightly toasting the macadamia nuts brings out their rich, buttery flavor.
Recipe: Pecan-Cranberry Shortbread
Making shortbread with melted butter skips the wait for it to soften.
Recipe: Pumpkin-Espresso Tiramisù
Make Ahead: Loosely wrap baked and cooked tiramisu in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Red Velvet Fudge
Recipe: Red Velvet Fudge
If you like red velvet cake, you'll love this fudge.
White Cake with Bourbon Buttercream
Ambrosia Streusel Bars with Shortbread Crust
Use the foil as a handle to remove the cooled batch from the pan for easy slicing.
Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting
Warm spices and molasses blend beautifully with tangy buttermilk frosting.
Hidden Kiss Cookies
Recipe: Hidden Kiss Cookies
We love using mint kisses and candy cane kisses for the holidays.
Recipe: Coconut Pudding
Try unsweetened coconut flakes for a not-too-sweet topping.
Cookie Press Sandwiches
Recipe: Cookie Press Sandwiches
Pick your favorite filling for this classic sandwich cookie: We tested with peppermint, orange, and lemon extracts and used food coloring to match each flavor.
Milk Punch Tres Leches Cake
Recipe: Milk Punch Tres Leches Cake
Bake this a day before serving so it soaks up the creamy syrup. Make mini cakes with a round cutter. Top with whipped cream and a grating of nutmeg.
Recipe: Wreath Macaroons
Use your fingers to make a small hole in the center of each cookie.
White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream
Mexican Hot Chocolate Trifle
Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate Trifle
Top this rich trifle with a sprinkle of chocolate curls.
Peppermint Meringue Cookies
Recipe: Peppermint Meringue Cookies
Use food coloring gel in a squeeze bottle or a food-safe paintbrush to make lines in the piping bag. Once meringues are cooled, store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
Mississippi Mud Medallions
Recipe: Mississippi Mud Medallions
You can substitute mini marshmallows for espresso beans.
Minted White Chocolate Balls
Recipe: Minted White Chocolate Balls
These festive nibbles are the perfect giftable treat.
Layered Eggnog Blondies
Recipe: Layered Eggnog Blondies
These treats have a split personality: 1 part blondie, 1 part eggnog cheesecake. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container up to one week.
Recipe: Triple Gingersnappers
You can chill the dough for these gingersnappers up to three days before baking.
Recipe: Peppermint-Pretzel Bark
Make even larger quantities for gifting this easy microwave treat by skipping the jelly-roll pan and covering your counter with parchment. It'll take longer to harden at room temperature, but you can make large batches without pans or the refrigerator.
Pecan Linzer Cookies
Recipe: Pecan Linzer Cookies
Use your favorite jams to vary the flavor and color of these beauties.
Red Velvet-White Chocolate Cheesecake
Layered Eggnog Cream with Puff Pastry
Any seasonal berry works with this dessert.
Banana Brownie Sticky Toffee Puddings
Any remaining sauce makes a great topping for ice cream.
Red Velvet Marble Bundt Cake
Recipe: Gingerbread Soufflés
This impressive dessert isn't difficult, but do plan ahead. Preheat the oven, and just before sitting down to dinner, pop the soufflés in. When done, serve them all puffed up and gorgeous.
Milk Punch Frozen Custards
Recipe: Milk Punch Frozen Custards
For a formal fête, freeze the custards in elegant wine glasses or brandy snifters. For a casual gathering, use small milkshake glasses or punch cups.
Recipe: Charlotte Russe
Chill any remaining custard, and serve it with the remaining ladyfingers for dipping.
Cherries Jubilee Cakes
Recipe: Cherries Jubilee Cakes
Santa's secret: No one will ever guess these elegant little cakes came from a box of white cake mix and a can of cherries.
Peppermint Ice-Cream Cake
Recipe: Peppermint Ice-Cream Cake
This is a towering peppermint-lover's dream. Clear about 14 square inches of room in your freezer before you begin.
Recipe: Coconut Snowballs
If the melted white chocolate is too firm after it is heated, stir in about 1/4 tsp. coconut oil.
Glazed Fruitcake Bars
Recipe: Glazed Fruitcake Bars
These dense, chewy fruitcake bars are a fresh version of the kind passed around at holiday parties. We love raisins and dried cherries in this recipe, but use your favorite combinations.
Ambrosia Coconut Cake
Red Berry Pavlova Tower
Caramel Cream Cake
Recipe: Caramel Cream Cake
This three-layer butter cake has a pecan-pie filling in between the cake layers, a rich cream cheese frosting, and a topping of sweet coconut and chopped pecans. It's a great dessert for holiday entertaining.
Recipe: Pecan Squares
If you like the taste of pecan pie, you'll love this easy alternative. Serve the squares with vanilla ice cream for an over-the-top dessert.
Double Coffee Tiramisù
Recipe: Double Coffee Tiramisù
For festive holiday flair, prepare these individual desserts in mugs or ramekins. This chilled dessert recipe makes three servings, so plan to enjoy the two extra servings the next day.
Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake
Recipe: Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake
Chocoholics are sure to love this ultra-rich cheesecake, which features traditional cheesecake filling sandwiched between a chocolate-pecan brownie base and a thick, homemade chocolate glaze.
Rudolph's Christmas Sugar Cookies
Recipe: Chocolate-Mint Cake
This rich holiday cake is a show-stopper that will become a family holiday classic recipe. Don't be tempted to substitute peppermint extract for the peppermint oil used in this recipe. Peppermint oil, available from cake-supply stores, has an intense, highly concentrated flavor like that found in chocolate-covered peppermint patties.
Recipe: Fig Cake
A delicious twist on our favorite Hummingbird Cake, this recipe is so simple to make you won't believe you started from scratch. This recipe can be made with fresh figs or with good quality preserves. Sweet cream cheese frosting covers the cake and is a nice balance to the spicy fall flavors.
Chocolate-Citrus Cake With Candied Oranges
Double Citrus Tart
Recipe: Double Citrus Tart
Easy as icebox pie, this party-pretty tart pairs the bright fresh flavors of lemon and orange with a crisp gingersnap crust. It's just the right finish for a rich holiday meal, and freezes beautifully.
Raspberry Tiramisù Bites
Recipe: Raspberry Tiramisù Bites
There are crisp Italian cookies also called ladyfingers, but be sure to use soft ones in this recipe. Look for them in the bakery or produce section of your supermarket.
Chocolate Velvet Cake With Coconut-Pecan Frosting
A lavish amount of melted chocolate and sour cream gives these moist cake layers a tender, velvet-textured crumb. You'll find lots of imaginative ways to bake and frost the cake layers listed with the recipe for the batter.
Bread Pudding With Vanilla Sauce
Recipe: Bread Pudding With Vanilla Sauce
A New Orleans specialty, this simple but ethereal dessert is nothing short of spectacular. It takes just minutes to put together, and bakes while everyone enjoys the main meal.
White Chocolate-Cranberry Crème Brûlée
A burst of sweet-tart cranberry sauce lies at the bottom of these creamy, double-rich custards. Prepare the custards a day ahead, and chill. Crisp, paper-thin crusts of caramelized sugar are added just before serving—all it takes is a few minutes under the broiler. For the best flavor and texture, choose a quality white chocolate with cocoa butter listed as the primary ingredient.
Banana Pudding Trifle
Recipe: Banana Pudding Trifle
This classic English layered pudding dessert goes Southern with banana pudding and bourbon-soaked vanilla wafers.
Noel Pound Cake Loaf
Recipe: Noel Pound Cake Loaf
Still warm from the oven or tucked away to season in a secret hiding place, golden-crusted pound cakes are loved by everyone. We serve them any time of day or night, and have even been known to butter and toast a slice or two for breakfast. A colorful confetti of red and green maraschino cherries makes this merry little cake a hit with all ages.
Pumpkin-Spiced Profiteroles With Warm Cranberry Compote
A star-tipped pastry bag makes quick work of piping these festive little cream puffs, but you can also shape small dollops of dough with a pair of teaspoons. Bake them up to a month ahead; cool completely, and freeze in zip-top plastic bags. We chose vanilla bean ice cream as a filling, but butter-pecan or dulce-de-leche are also a great match for the compote. Or, change the flavor combination and use coffee ice cream and caramel sauce to create a fun twist on the popular pumpkin spiced latté.
White Chocolate-Almond Cake
Recipe: White Chocolate-Almond Cake
A decadent trio of dark chocolate cake layers is the delicious surprise inside this festive package. There's no need to worry about picture-perfect swirls of frosting—just spread it on. Then decorate like a pro simply by pressing finely chopped white chocolate and almonds into the top and sides of the cake. Tie on a ribbon, and you have a stunning dessert that tastes every bit as good as it looks.
Triple Mint Sundaes
Mindi's Doughnuts and Easy Raspberry Sauce
Doughnuts are a true passion for Mindi–she even asks for them instead of birthday cake. "This recipe is an awesome sweet to add to your brunch menus too," says Mindi.
Sweet Potato-Buttermilk Pie
Recipe: Sweet Potato-Buttermilk Pie
Top with whipped cream and this sweet potato pie is sure to be a hit.
Snowy Chocolate Baby Cakes
Chocolate Marble Sheet Cake
Recipe: Chocolate Marble Sheet Cake
Swirl chocolate and yellow cake batter together in this marble sheetcake recipe and top with a rich mocha frosting.
Recipe: Sugar-and-Spice Cake
Make a classic white cake for Christmas this year. This recipe starts with boxed mix, then adds a few key ingredients to make the end result light, fluffy, and totally delicious.
Red Velvet Cheesecake
Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake
Recipe: Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake
We replicated the flavor profile of Mexican chocolate using semisweet chocolate and cinnamon. If you prefer to use Mexican chocolate, look for it with the hot drink mixes or on the Hispanic food aisle. This moist pound cake is equally delicious without the Mexican Chocolate Sauce.
Red Velvet Brownies
Tipsy Spiced Fruit Tart with Buttermilk Whipped Cream
The bourbon-soaked fruits and bold flavors in this rustic pie make it an adults-only dessert. Splurge for a premium brandy or bourbon—it’s worth it.
Step-by-Step: How To Make a Fabulous Fruit Tart
Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake
Red Velvet Soufflés with Whipped Sour Cream
These snazzy red velvet soufflés are not only eye catching, but drool-worthy desserts that will dazzle any holiday table.
Praline Bundt Cake
Recipe: Praline Bundt Cake
This praline bundt cake gets raves for being moist, flavorful and beautiful! Something about it evokes a feeling of Southern nostalgia.
Recipe: Hummingbird Cake
This ultimate recipe is the most requested in Southern Living magazine history and frequents covered dish dinners all across the South, always receiving rave reviews.
Recipe: Cheesecake Squares
Save time and stress with this elegant make-ahead dessert your guests will love.
Red Velvet Trifle
Recipe: Red Velvet Trifle
This trifle has a unique mixture of flavors and textures from the creamy yogurt and cream cheese and the moist red velvet cake. Top this dessert with raspberries for a light and satisfying treat.