The Winter Holiday season is upon us. It’s that time of year where we gather with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and FOOD! For many of these events, we may be asked to bring a dish, maybe a dessert to share. If you are looking to spice-up one of your favorite holiday desserts, then look no further than this list.
I’ve curated a list of my absolute favorite recipes to make for the Holidays. Each one of these are sure to be unique and delicious. As a warning, I will say they will all take longer to make than that box of brownies from the grocery store. I have included difficulty levels along with my tips for a flawless dessert, so you know exactly what you are getting into.
Personally, one of my favorite aspects about baking and cooking is challenging myself and adding a new recipe to my repertoire. Whatever I like best, I can then make it again and again. I hope you find a new favorite or two among these recipes.
Finally, I promise that there is no fruit cake included on this list. Because, yuck!
P.S. Find my mom’s Homemade Whipped Cream Recipe at the bottom of this page.
1.) Cranberry-Lime Pie with a Gingersnap Crust:
For those who love the tartness of key-lime pie, this is the perfect one for you to try. The cranberries add their own unique tartness to the mixture, along with festive coloring. The gingersnap/pecan crust is a playful twist to the usual graham cracker crust. It’s not just the custard filling that makes this dish unique. After a large meal, this tart treat is perfect.
Please find the recipe, courtesy of Bon Appetit’s website, here.
Difficulty level: Hard, with the need for certain kitchen technology and confidence in custard making, or just knowing how to carefully follow a recipe.
Alicia’s Tips: A dollop of whipped cream added on top really cuts the tartness of the pie and gives it a more rounded flavor. So make sure to bring homemade whipped cream! Also, double the cranberry/shaved lime topping for a really stunning, festive display.
2.) Dark Chocolate Mousse:
Who doesn’t love chocolate mousse? It is surprisingly simple to make. So simple, it maybe be dangerous to know. The first time I made this, I was making it for a guy I was dating at the time, and told him, through text, that I was making “chocolate mouse” instead of “chocolate mousse.” Don’t make that same mistake!
Please find the recipe, courtesy of Food Network & Bobby Flay, here.
Difficulty Level: Easy, but need electric hand mixer. The mousse needs 1 hour to sit in refrigerator after whipping.
Alicia’s Tips: When plating the mousse, use colorful berries, homemade whipped cream and coco powder to give a beautiful presentation.
This is my favorite dessert, all year, any day, any time! Before discovering a recipe for tiramisu, I thought I would never find anything as good as what I had at restaurants. However, I am excited to say that this recipe is better than anything I have ever had before. And, I even got to try tiramisu in the city where it was invented: Venice, Italy.
Difficulty Level: Medium, getting the custard just right can be nerve racking. Trust yourself!
Please find the recipe, courtesy of All Recipes, here.
Alicia’s Tips: There are many different ways to present these decadent layers. I like using a baking pan, rather than a trifle bowl. But, the trifle bowl does show the look of the layers. Serve it with coffee. Make sure to have decaf, if this is an after-dinner dessert.
4.) Chocolate Pecan Pie with Bourbon:
A little twist on a Thanksgiving favorite. Though the twist (adding chocolate) is not very daring – everyone likes chocolate! I first made this for a Friendsgiving I was hosting. It was a little different and quite a hit!
Please find the recipe, courtesy of Food & Wine, here.
Difficulty Level: Easy, as long as you use store bought crust…
Alicia’s Tips: If you are in a hurry or don’t want to deal with the hassle of making your own crust (like me), buy pre-made crust. Bourbon is not needed to make this pie delicious, but if you happen to have some on hand, go for it. If you don’t use bourbon, add 1 teaspoon of real vanilla extract.
Serving the pie warm really accentuates the gooeyness of the pecan pie filling and chocolate pieces. With a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top, this is perfect!
5.) Pumpkin Tart with Anise-Seed Crust:
Just because everyone else in the U.S. seems to like pumpkin, I included a pumpkin dish that even I enjoy. Pumpkin is not my favorite flavor at all. I think it is the over-use of cloves that gets to me. However, I found this tart to have a well-rounded flavor that was not overly “spiced.”
Please find the recipe, courtesy of Epicurious & Gourmet, here.
Difficulty Level: Medium – need tart pan.
Alicia’s Tips: With a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top, this is perfect. Are you starting to see a theme in my love for whipped cream?!
Crepes are an easy dessert to make and customizable. Essentially they are just a thin pancake. And, there are so many ways to add flavors. Nutella is a classic one, but lemon juice with powdered sugar is my favorite. Get creative with the fillings and with various ways of folding them for an interesting presentation. Maybe you want to roll them up, maybe fold them into a triangle. Anything goes!
Please find the recipe, courtesy of Epicurious and Julia Child, here.
Difficulty Level: Easy, though you need at least one hour for batter to sit in refrigerator.
Alicia’s Tips: Make extras for breakfast. If you have guests staying over, these are an easy way to feed them. Just store the extras on a plate wrapped with plastic-wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, dampen a paper towels to put on top of the layers of crepes as you microwave them for 20-30 seconds.
Also, dark chocolate mousse goes great with a crepe or two! Just add 1/2 cup of mousse onto a cooled-down crepe, roll-up, add a dollop of homemade whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Heaven!