Each of us harbors memories of the winter holidays. Whether it’s lighting the menorah, gazing happily upon a giant Christmas tree, listening to carols, or engaging in a period of reflection, something lingers for you. Create that same nostalgia for the ones you love. Here are some of our most showstopping (but accessible!) holiday desserts. Have a holly, jolly season.
There are many folks who cook to achieve a sense of mastery. Especially bakers, who love the rhythm and science of scales and measurement. For this sort of brain, one that takes peace in precision, there is croquembouche, the showstopper to end all showstoppers. You make the puffs and the vanilla bean filling, stack them artfully together, spin them with caramel, put on “Silent Night,” and boom: They’ll remember it forever.
2. Gingerbread House Cake
Home for the holidays! You could use any sort of cake mix, such as red velvet, in this charming Nordic Ware Bundt pan. But picture proper gingerbread cake, glazed with snowy frosting or powdered with a snowfall of confectioners’ sugar. Leave it out all afternoon, making mouths water, before serving it. Everyone will enjoy it, from its front door to its eaves.
3. Cranberry and Lemon Curd Pie
Hitting all the same notes and ringing all the same bells as our trio of wintry cocktail garnishes, this pie actually comes together on the grill, so hand the project off to the fire-breathing person in your household. Featuring a cranberry–lemon curd filling ensconced in a gingersnap cookie and pecan crust, this treat shimmers with the aromas and flavors of the season. Best of all, you can refrigerate it for up to two days, and break it out even in the midst of holiday chaos without breaking a sweat.
4. Blood Orange-Chiffon Cake
Everything doesn’t need to be all gingersnap this and red-and-white (or blue-and-white!) that this time of year. Consider winter citrus, particularly blood orange. You can choose between the whoa-nelly beautiful blood orange olive oil cake from Claire Saffitz and this stunner of a cake with vanilla bean buttercream. But let there be winter citrus in your life this holiday season, because 2020.
5. Pear and Ginger Upside-Down Cake
Sweet pears, a trio of spices and a double dose of ginger make this rich, caramel-coated dessert an unforgettable conclusion to a holiday meal. And, because the holidays are a time of sweet indulgence, don’t forget a large dollop of bourbon whipped cream on every slice.
6. Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte
A shimmer of edible gold dust adds a bit of holiday glam to this chocoholics dream dessert, though this dense, flourless chocolate torte is just as good without it. You’ll likely want a generous glass of Champagne on the side to cut the cake’s chocolately sweetness, so this knock-out dessert seems to demand sparkle no matter how you decide to enjoy it.
Happy holidays, indeed.
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