66 Heavenly Holiday Desserts That Will Wow the Entire Family

Peppermint Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

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 wows." They're perfect for toting to a cookie swap 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!

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Snowy Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream

Snowy Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Snowy Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream

If you want a Christmas dessert that's Southern Living cover-worthy, top this classic white cake with our homemade Cake Ball Ornaments.

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Christmas Tree Brownies

Christmas Tree Brownies
Micah A. Leal

Recipe: Christmas Tree Brownies

These brownies have the soft texture you crave, but the best part is decorating them with the family.

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Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Chocolate Peppermint Cake
Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Kathleen Varner

Recipe: Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Southerners know that mayonnaise is the secret to the best chocolate cake, and this layer cake starts with it.

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Bourbon Ball Tart

Bourbon Ball Tart
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop styling: Lydia Pursell

Recipe: Bourbon Ball Tart

If you want to have the most fun dessert on the sideboard, bring this one that tops chocolate ganache with festive bourbon balls.

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Peppermint Divinity

Peppermint Divinity
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Recipe: Peppermint Divinity

Since the South's hot, humid climate can extend well into winter, be sure to check the weather and pick a dry, sunny day as your "divinity day" to make this old-fashioned treat.

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Eggnog Layer Cake with Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Eggnog Layer Cake with Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Eggnog Layer Cake with Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

If you're on the hunt for a showstopping finale for your Christmas celebration, consider it found. Our December 2021 cover star, boasts four layers of eggnog cake, homemade buttercream frosting, and piles of sweet present cookies.

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Peppermint Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting

Peppermint Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Peppermint Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting

Each element of this cake can be made ahead, so you can just decorate and serve the day of your gathering.

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Buche de Noel

Buche De Noel
Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Ana Kelly Prop Stylist: Kay Clarke

Recipe: Buche de Noel

It's a labor of love, but if you've never made a classic yule log cake for the holidays, this is the year to try.

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Best-Ever Brownies

Best-Ever Brownies
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Best-Ever Brownies

This recipe from Test Kitchen Professional and Hey Y'all Host Ivy Odom yields two pans of gooey, fudgy perfection. We recommend keeping at least one batch on hand for drop-in holiday guests.

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Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate-Peppermint Swirl Sandwich Cookies
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate cookie dough rolled in sparkling sugar with peppermint filling makes for a Christmas treat that's almost too pretty to eat.

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Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake

Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Spiked Eggnog Bundt Cake

Calling all eggnog lovers! You've got to make this pretty Bundt. A tip from the Test Kitchen: For the most tender crumb, don't overmix the wet and dry ingredients; stop stirring just after they are blended.

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Eggnog Spice Cake with Bourbon Custard Filling and Eggnog Buttercream

Eggnog Spice Cake with Bourbon Custard Filling and Eggnog Buttercream
Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Eggnog Spice Cake with Bourbon Custard Filling and Eggnog Buttercream

Instead of drinking your eggnog this Christmas, serve it on a cake plate.

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Christmas Fudge

Christmas Fudge
Micah A Leal

Recipe: Christmas Fudge

Every Christmas gathering needs a cake plate stacked high with perfect pieces of fudge.

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Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting

Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Gingerbread Cake with Buttermilk Frosting

Warm spices and molasses blend beautifully with tangy buttermilk frosting.

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White Chocolate-Peppermint Blondies

White Chocolate-Peppermint Blondies
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: White Chocolate-Peppermint Blondies

Since this festive recipe makes four and a half dozen bars, you'll have plenty to share with the neighbors.

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Best White Cake

Best White Cake
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christina Lane; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Best White Cake

Forget sprinkles or store-bought decorations, bake your own cake topper with our Gingerbread Cookies.

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White Christmas Pavlovas

White Christmas Pavlovas
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: White Christmas Pavlovas

There's no prettier way to end a meal than with a fluffy pavlova. The mini portions are perfect for easy serving.

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Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

Brown Sugar-and-Ginger Whipped Cream
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

This year, we could use a little homemade comfort, and this old-school gingerbread recipe is like a hug in a pan.

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Red Velvet Brownies

Red Velvet Brownies
Photography: Caitlin Bensel, Prop Styling: Audrey Davis, Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

Recipe: Red Velvet Brownies

Brownies get dressed up for Christmas with red velvet and snowy cream cheese frosting.

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Cherry-Spice Cake Trifle

Cherry-Spice Cake Trifle
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Cherry-Spice Cake Trifle

Thaw Holiday Spice Cake layers and prepare the recipe through Step 3. Assemble trifle in the morning, and refrigerate. Remove 1 hour before serving.

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Praline Cream-Beignet Tower

Praline Cream-Beignet Tower
Photo: Linda Pugliese

Recipe: Praline Cream-Beignet Tower

Make the praline filling and dough up to two days ahead.

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Cranberry Dreamsicle Trifle

Cranberry Dreamsicle Trifle
Iain Bagwell

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.

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Coconut-Pecan Truffles

Coconut-Pecan Truffles
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

Recipe: Coconut-Pecan Truffles

We've found your go-to giftable treat for the holiday season. These eight-ingredient truffles look just as pretty in a cookie tin as they do on a gold platter.

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Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake

Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake

Don't worry if your cheesecake cracks; the light and fluffy layer of whipped cream will cover it.

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Red Velvet Cheesecake-Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cheesecake-Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Red Velvet Cheesecake-Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Creamy red velvet cheesecake, soft white cake, and layers of tangy cream cheese frosting? Somebody pinch us.

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Triple Chocolate Brownie-Mousse Stacks

Triple Chocolate Brownie-Mousse Stacks
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Recipe: 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.

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Pecan-Cranberry Shortbread

Red Velvet Thumbprints
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Pecan-Cranberry Shortbread

Making shortbread with melted butter skips the wait for it to soften.

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Red Velvet Fudge

Sweet Valentine’s Day Treats Red Velvet Fudge
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Red Velvet Fudge

If you like red velvet cake, you'll love this fudge.

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White Cake with Bourbon Buttercream

White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Recipe: White Cake with Bourbon Buttercream and Seven-Minute Frosting

Top this cake with Sugar-Coated Orange Slices and Sparkling Cherries.

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Ambrosia Streusel Bars with Shortbread Crust

Milk Punch Tres Leches Cake
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Ambrosia Streusel Bars with Shortbread Crust

Use the foil as a handle to remove the cooled batch from the pan for easy slicing.

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White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream

White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Recipe: White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream

This cake will be the star of your holiday meal. Your guests will be begging for the recipe.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Trifle

Hot Chocolate Trifle
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate Trifle

Top this rich trifle with a sprinkle of chocolate curls.

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Layered Eggnog Blondies

Layered Eggnog Blondies
Photo: Hector Sanchez

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.

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Banana Brownie Sticky Toffee Puddings

Banana Brownie Sticky Toffee Puddings
Photo: Alison Miksch

Recipe: Banana Brownie Sticky Toffee Puddings

Any remaining sauce makes a great topping for ice cream.

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Coconut Snowballs

Coconut Snowballs
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Coconut Snowballs

If the melted white chocolate is too firm after it is heated, stir in about 1/4 tsp. coconut oil.

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Banana Pudding Trifle

Banana Pudding Trifle

Recipe: Banana Pudding Trifle

This classic English layered pudding dessert goes Southern with banana pudding and bourbon-soaked vanilla wafers.

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Sugar-and-Spice Cake

Sugar-and-Spice Cake
Jennifer Davick; Styling: Buffy Hargett

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.

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Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake

Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake
Jim Franco

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.

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Coconut Pudding

Milk Punch Tres Leches Cake
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Coconut Pudding

Try unsweetened coconut flakes for a not-too-sweet topping.

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Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake
Jim Franco

Recipe: Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

Let this elegant chocolate cheesecake be the centerpiece of your holiday tablescape featuring a gorgeous white chocolate snowflake in the center.

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Red Velvet Soufflés with Whipped Sour Cream

Red Velvet Soufflés with Whipped Sour Cream
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: 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.

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Buttermilk-Chocolate Cake

Buttermilk-Chocolate Cake
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas: Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Buttermilk-Chocolate Cake

If you really want to impress the crowd with your baking skills, top this soft chocolate cake with our Magnolia Flowers or Camellia Flowers.

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Hot Buttered Rum Bread Pudding

Hot Buttered Rum Bread Pudding
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum Bread Pudding

We turned one of winter's favorite cocktails into an ultra-decadent dessert that will make your house smell amazing.

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Hot Chocolate Brownies

Hot Chocolate Brownies
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Hot Chocolate Brownies

Rich, gooey brownies topped with a layer of homemade marshmallows—sounds like we just found your next baking project.

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White Chocolate Poinsettia Cake

White Chocolate Poinsettia Cake
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: White Chocolate Poinsettia Cake

Who knew a petal-shaped cookie cutter could create such a stunning holiday cake topper?

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Red Velvet-Raspberry Tiramisù Trifle

Red Velvet-Raspberry Tiramisù Trifle
Jim Franco; Styling: Lydia Degaris Pursell

Recipe: Red Velvet-Raspberry Tiramisù Trifle

Since this merry and bright trifle can chill for up to 24 hours before serving, it's an ideal make-ahead dessert to save you time this holiday season.

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Butterscotch-Bourbon Lava Cake

Butterscotch-Bourbon Lava Cakes
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell

Recipe: Butterscotch-Bourbon Lava Cake

These single-serving cakes ensure nobody is fighting over the last slice this Christmas.

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Red Velvet Peppermint Cake

Red Velvet Peppermint Cake
Caitlin Bensel

Recipe: Red Velvet Peppermint Cake

We can't think of a more festive combination than red velvet and peppermint.

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Old-Fashioned Trifle

Old-Fashioned Trifle
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Trifle

If you're celebrating Christmas with an adults-only dinner party, try this tipsy trifle. Whiskey-soaked pound cake and tipsy cherries meet a rich custard and whipped cream.

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Coconut Cake with Rum Filling and Coconut Ermine Frosting

Coconut Cake with Rum FIlling and Coconut Ermine Frosting
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Coconut Cake with Rum Filling and Coconut Ermine Frosting

If you've never tried ermine frosting, you'll love this vintage frosting recipe for all your future Christmas cakes.

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Bourbon-Chocolate Cake with Browned Buttercream Frosting

Bourbon-Chocolate Cake with Browned Buttercream
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop styling: Lydia Pursell

Recipe: Bourbon-Chocolate Cake with Browned Buttercream Frosting

This boozy dessert is a year-round delight, but it's definitely festive enough for Christmas.

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Coffee Baba au Rhum

Coffee Baba au Rhum
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Coffee Baba au Rhum

With this beautiful dessert, you have a great excuse to make it ahead: It tastes even better after a day or so when the flavors have fully melded.

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Sprinkle Sandwich Cookies

Sprinkle Sandwich Cookies
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Sprinkle Sandwich Cookies

Sprinkle haters need not apply! With colorful sprinkles included in the dough and added to the icing that's sandwiched between the two-bite treats, these Christmas cookies are ready to party.

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Bourbon-Praline Cheesecake

Bourbon-Praline Cheesecake and Vanilla Custard with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop styling: Lydia Pursell

Recipe: Bourbon-Praline Cheesecake

Not only is the praline topping a picturesque touch, but it takes the flavor of this cheesecake over the top.

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Spice Cake with Cranberry Filling

Spice Cake with Cranberry Filling
Linda Pugliese, Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas, Buffy Hargett Miller

Recipe: Spice Cake with Cranberry Filling

Surprise everyone when you cut this snowy white cake open to reveal a sweet cranberry filling.

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Gingerbread Cake Roll with Eggnog Cream

Gingerbread Roulade and Eggnog Cream
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Gingerbread Cake Roll with Eggnog Cream

This spice cake is a great make-ahead option for your holiday feast, and a snowy topping of powdered sugar makes for beautiful presentation.

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Red Velvet Madeleines

Red Velvet Madeleines
Jim Franco; Styling: Lydia Degaris Pursell

Recipe: Red Velvet Madeleines

This recipe makes two dozen, so you can leave a pretty madeleine on every plate.

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Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding
Micah A. Leal

Recipe: Christmas Pudding

Bring this British dessert over the pond and start a new family tradition this year.

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Chocolate-Gingerbread-Toffee Cake

Chocolate-Gingerbread-Toffee Cake
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Chocolate-Gingerbread-Toffee Cake

One Test Kitchen Professional said this cake "tastes like all the wonderful flavors that come tumbling from a stocking: milk chocolate Santas, gingerbread men, and buttery toffee candy."

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Vanilla Custard with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

Vanilla Custards with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce and Bourbon-Praline Cheesecake
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop styling: Lydia Pursell

Recipe: Vanilla Custard with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

Your friends will be stunned when you serve up this dessert that looks like it came from a five-star restaurant.

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Cream Cheese Christmas Cookies

Rudolph's Chocolate Truffle Cake
Lee Harrelson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

Recipe: Rudolph's Chocolate Truffle Cake

This rich chocolate cake has been a reader favorite for decades.

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Spice Cake with Citrus Filling

Spice Cake with Citrus Filling
Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lydia DeGaris Pursell

Recipe: Spice Cake with Citrus Filling

If you really want to make an impression, whip up this beauty with thick citrus and spice cake layers.

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Raspberry Panna Cotta

Raspberry Panna Cotta
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Raspberry Panna Cotta

Cardamom spice gives this silky custard its delicious flavor. Use any berry you wish, adjusting the sugar in the mixture to taste.

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Sea Salt-Caramel Cake

Sea Salt-Caramel Cake
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Sea Salt-Caramel Cake

Update Mama's caramel cake recipe (no offense, Mama) with this sweet and salty concoction.

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Red Velvet Cheesecake

Red Velvet Cheesecake
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Red Velvet Cheesecake

If you love both red velvet cake and cheesecake, this perfect sweet-meets-rich-meets-creamy concoction is bound to be your new favorite dessert.

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5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies

5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies
Linda Pugliese, Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas, Buffy Hargett Miller

Recipe: 5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies

Yes, you can make an irresistible sugar cookie with just a few ingredients. Customize these party treats with your favorite cookie cutters and sprinkles.

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