Best Holiday and Christmas Dessert Recipes

'Tis the season for sweets, so go ahead: Indulge in our best holiday dessert recipes, from beautiful cakes to bite-size treats.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Natalie Brasington ©2014, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

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Photo By: Marshall Troy Photography ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved.

Photo By: Marshall Troy Photography ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Marshall Troy Photography ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Marshall Troy Photography ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Marshall Troy Photography ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Marshall Troy Photography ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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Gingerbread Icebox Cake

Prepare this gumdrop-bedecked cake in a Bundt pan for a stunning holiday dessert that is way easier to construct than a gingerbread house. The spicy gingersnaps flavor the creamy filling overnight, so make it ahead of time and then decorate it before guests arrive.

Get the Recipe: Gingerbread Icebox Cake

Orange Scented Bomboloni with Pastry Cream

Bobby spikes these little fried balls with orange liqueur (in the pastry cream and also the dipping sauce), and rolls the warm dough in cane sugar directly out of the frying pan. Eating just one is hardly an option.

Get the Recipe: Orange Scented Bomboloni with Pastry Cream and Chocolate Orange Dipping Sauce

Caramel Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Add chopped apples to cupcake batter along with a squeeze of caramel to replicate the flavors of the favorite fall-on-a-stick sweet –– without the stick-to-your-teeth mess.

Get the Recipe: Caramel-Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

This dark and dense chocolate cake is almost like hazelnut fudge, so there's no need to test it with a toothpick to check if it's ready. It emerges from the oven fluffy and souffled, but it will deflate to half the size during the cooling period, so don't despair when you see it sink.

Get the Recipe: Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

Laura's Mandarinello Bundt Cake

Once you flavor a cake with mandarinello orange liqueur, you may never turn back. This sweet and boozy cake will be an instant favorite.

Get the Recipe: Laura's Mandarinello Bundt Cake

Ninjabread Men Cookies

Sneak more exciting cookies into your holiday platter this year to kick your party into high gear.

Get the Recipe: Ninjabread Men Cookies

Almond Madeleines

A little almond extract goes a long way in these classic French cookies. Always make more than you need — they go fast and make great take-home gifts.

Get the Recipe: Almond Madeleines

Apple Peach Cobbler

Shortcuts like store-bought crust and canned peaches save time with this recipe, allowing everyone to dig into the buttery cobbler sooner.

Get the Recipe: Apple Peach Cobbler

Leftover-Brownie Truffles

Baked too many brownies? Roll them into fancy truffles. Two birds, one stone.

Get the Recipe: Laura's Leftover Brownie Truffles

Gingerbread Tiramisu

Replace ladyfingers with flavorful ginger cookies for a snappy version of the Italian classic.

Get the Recipe: Gingerbread Tiramisu

Mascarpone and Dark Chocolate Cream in White Chocolate Cups

Giada creates these edible cups by brushing paper muffin liners with two coats of white chocolate and freezing them until they are firm. Bittersweet chocolate mousse is an ideal counterpart for filling the crisp ivory cups.

Get the Recipe: Mascarpone and Dark Chocolate Cream in White Chocolate Cups

Bourbon-Pear Rustic Tart

If you're intimidated by baking a pie, then this is the recipe for you. Add bourbon-soaked pears to a store-bought pastry crust for a smoky, spiced dessert that looks way more impressive than the effort it required.

Get the Recipe: Bourbon-Pear Rustic Tart

Espresso Cupcakes

Bake these caffeinated cupcakes in espresso cups so that guests can enjoy individual portions with ease. A chocolate espresso glaze and single espresso bean serve as telltale garnishes atop the moist chocolate cake.

Get the Recipe: Espresso Cupcakes

Semi-Freddo of Cookies and Cream with Salted Caramel

Tyler builds this frozen confection on a base of crushed gingersnaps, which he tops with pomegranate molasses-flavored whipped cream. After it has chilled, he drizzles dark amber caramel over the top.

Get the Recipe: Semi-freddo Cookies and Cream with Salted Caramel

Featherlight Chocolate Cake

True to its name, this reliable cake has a springy and tender crumb thanks to the addition of ice water in the batter. Good-quality cocoa powder is crucial to achieving the deep chocolate flavor, and this cake retains its moisture so well that it will keep for as long as a week.

Get the Recipe: Featherlight Chocolate Cake

Cream-Filled Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce

These classic French pastries are also known as cream puffs, as the choux pastry dough puffs up into hollow rounds that are perfect for filling with fluffy whipped cream.

Get the Recipe: Cream-filled Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce

Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Use panettone loaf as the base of this bread pudding and spike it with almond-scented amaretto liqueur to lend a distinctly Italian note to your holiday dessert spread.

Get the Recipe: Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Baklava

Baklava, the flaky Greek sweet that never goes out of style, is a guaranteed hit for any holiday party. In his version, Michael Symon layers pistachios, walnuts and ground graham crackers between phyllo dough and sweetens each layer with a lemon-honey syrup.

Get the Recipe: Baklava

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Pot de creme is a sweet French custard that is traditionally served in the same porcelain cups that it's baked in. Alex adds almond extract to hers for a subtle nuttiness that blends well with semisweet chocolate. Baking the cups in a water bath prevents a skin from forming over the custard as it cooks.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Pots de Creme

S'mores Buffet

Create a customizable dessert course at your holiday bash with a sweet and festive buffet. Setting out stacked graham crackers and creative fillings, like boozy chocolate hazelnut spread and sangria marmalade, will encourage guests to build their perfect s'mores.

Get the Recipe: S'mores Buffet

Layered Chestnut Cream and Pear Verrine

Nadia's sweet take on a verrine (a multi-textured salad or dessert that's layered in a glass) puts a quick spin on the sophisticated French dish. She uses store-bought cooked chestnuts and canned pears as a base, and she elevates them with whipped mascarpone and buckwheat honey.

Get the Recipe: Layered Chestnut Cream and Pear Verrine

Chocolate Coconut Matzo Bark

Enrobe airy, salted matzo in chocolate and coconut for a unique spin on seasonal bark or brittle. 

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Coconut Matzo Bark

Banoffee Pie

Chuck ups the ante with this Banoffee Pie — an English dessert containing bananas, cream and toffee — by using crushed Oreo cookies as the pie's pastry base and infusing the whipped cream with coffee.

Get the Recipe: Banoffee Pie

Panettone Bread Pudding

Nadia G. uses Panettone, the sweet Italian holiday-season bread flavored with citrus and studded with raisins, as the base for her bread pudding and folds in meringue to make it extra light and fluffy.

Get the Recipe: Panettone Bread Pudding

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

Ina Garten's chocolate cake has a subtle mocha flavor thanks to the cup of freshly brewed coffee in the batter, but our favorite part of this recipe is the thick chocolate buttercream icing on the top of the cake and between its layers.

Get the Recipe: Beatty's Chocolate Cake

Coconut Macaroon Tart

Don't let this tart's mild brown color fool you: It is crispy on the outside and moist and dense on the inside — like the best coconut macaroon you've ever tasted.

Get the Recipe: Coconut Macaroon Tart

Molten Caramel Cakes

Chuck's molten caramel cakes are impressive single-size desserts, with oozing molten white chocolate beneath a crispy cake crust. A finishing sprinkle of sea salt brings out the caramel flavor and makes for a wow-worthy presentation.

Get the Recipe: Molten Caramel Cakes

Stollen

Stollen is a traditional German fruitcake that's loaded with candied fruit and almonds and topped with either powdered sugar or simple confectioners' sugar icing.

Get the Recipe: Stollen

Pear Crumble with Pomegranate Sauce

Crumbles are generally humble, no-fuss desserts, but Kelsey adds extra flavor and festivity with her pomegranate sauce, which looks beautiful drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

Get the Recipe: Pear Crumble with Pomegranate Sauce

Swiss Roll

Despite their intricately swirled centers, Swiss rolls are in fact very simple to make. The cake itself has no butter in it, so the thickly spread jam and whipped cream don't feel overly indulgent.

Get the Recipe: Swiss Roll

Ginger-Rum Bundt Cake

Consider this cake a Dark and Stormy in dessert form. Don't skimp on the freshly grated ginger, as it adds much deeper flavor than powdered varieties. 

Get the Recipe: Ginger-Rum Bundt Cake

Lemon Cupcakes

If the cold is getting you down this winter, the refreshing citrus flavor of these lemon cupcakes is sure to put a smile on your face.

Get the Recipe: Lemon Cupcakes

Dark and Stormy Gingerbread

Chef Hedy Goldsmith drew inspiration for her gingerbread recipe from her favorite cocktail, a Dark and Stormy, which mixes rum and ginger beer. Loaded with spice and dried fruit, the flavors of this cake mature and intensify the longer the cake batter sits before baking (Hedy recommends at least one full day).

Get the Recipe: Dark and Stormy Gingerbread

Crema Catalana

Ingrid Hoffman's Crema Catalana is essentially crème brulee with an orange-and-cinnamon twist, so it's perfect for the holidays. Served in individual ramekins, the custard cooks in only 10 minutes and has a crunchy, caramelized top.

Get the Recipe: Crema Catalana

Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding

To create a decadent dessert, Chef Zoe Francois combines a loaf of fresh baked banana bread with a velvety chocolate ganache. Top it with a spoon of creme fraiche or a scoop of chocolate ice cream, and the result is elegant comfort food fit for any occasion.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding

Tarte Tatin

Laura Calder packs her tarte tatin tightly with halves of gala apples. The buttery sugar mixture she pours over the top transforms the sizable slices into soft, caramelized pieces.

Get the Recipe: Tarte Tatin

Lemon Pie Bars

This bar with a graham cracker crust has old-school charm. Its creamy, cool texture is refreshing, and it's easy to make.

Get the Recipe: Lemon Pie Bars

Cookie Dough-Stuffed Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

A chocolate cupcake is good. A chocolate cupcake topped with cookie dough buttercream is even better. But a chocolate cupcake stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough and topped with cookie dough buttercream? That's perfection.

Get the Recipe: Cookie Dough-Stuffed Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cake

This popular cake with a cocoa base is dressed for the holiday season with its bright red hue. Cloaked in a cream cheese and butter vanilla frosting, this is a cake that holds up well for at least three days.

Get the Recipe: Red Velvet Cake

Sticky Fig Pudding with Candied Fresh Figs

If you think figgy pudding is just an old Christmas carol lyric, think again. Chuck drenches his pudding with a buttery toffee sauce that's so good, you'll understand why carolers sing "We won't leave until we get some."

Get the Recipe: Sticky Fig Pudding with Candied Fresh Figs

Carrot Cake

Alton Brown's carrot cake is rich and moist with a dense, quick-bread-like texture.

Get the Recipe: Carrot Cake

Moroccan-Style Fruitcake with Apricots, Dates and Figs

The Moroccan influences in this recipe give fruitcake a deliciously exotic spin. The filling is an elaborate mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, honey, pistachios, apricots and saffron, all encased in a flaky phyllo crust.

Get the Recipe: Moroccan-Style Fruitcake with Apricots, Dates and Figs

Warm Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Cream

These individual puddings are baked in a muffin pan for easy portioning to holiday guests. Each spiced pumpkin muffin is sliced in thirds and layered with cranberry-caramel sauce that seeps into every crumb.

Get the Recipe: Warm Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Cream

Chocolate Cream Puffs

These magical little puffs are light, crisp and rich all at the same time. The dough is made on the stovetop, then piped into smooth mounds and baked into airy balloons.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Cream Puffs

Sour Cream Cheesecake

This cheesecake is rich, creamy and has just the right amount of tang.

Get the Recipe: Sour Cream Cheesecake

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Black Licorice Frosting

A nicely spiced gingerbread cupcake would be plenty festive for a holiday celebration, but topped with black licorice frosting and a tower of licorice slices, it has extra bite — perfect for making a statement.

Get the Recipe: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Black Licorice Frosting

Tres Leches Bread Pudding

Three kinds of milk and a generous amount of egg yolks help give this bread pudding recipe custard-like richness while toasted almonds provide the perfect amount of crunch.

Get the Recipe: Tres Leches Bread Pudding

Chocolate Mousse

Alton Brown's chocolate mousse is loaded with creamy chocolate and rich espresso flavor but has no added sugar — so it's decadent without being overly sweet.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

Make bread pudding even more indulgent by starting with cubes of croissants as your base. The chocolate custard seeps in between the layers of flaky pastry, resulting in a chocolatey, buttery and creamy pudding.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

Molten Chocolate Cakes

Chuck's individual molten chocolate cakes look and taste restaurant-worthy but are extraordinarily fast and simple to make.

Get the Recipe: Molten Chocolate Cakes

Eggnog Ice Cream

Alton offers a delicious alternative to the traditional yuletide drink by simply omitting the egg whites from his eggnog recipe and then pouring the mixture into an ice cream maker. This seasonal dessert is amazing by itself or atop a slice of your favorite holiday pie.

Get the Recipe: Eggnog Ice Cream

Hazelnut Roll

Laura Calder's festive hazelnut roll is the perfect recipe for an impromptu holiday gathering. It bakes in only 10 minutes and is best enjoyed within a few hours of preparation.

Get the Recipe: Hazelnut Roll

Carrot Cake

Chuck Hughes goes above and beyond the usual carrots-and-spice combo for his carrot cake recipe. His batter is filled with fruits and nuts for flavor and texture, including pineapple, golden raisins, dried cherries and chopped walnuts.

Get the Recipe: Carrot Cake

Gooey Milk Chocolate, Coffee and Toffee Butter Cake

Inspired by the Philadelphia German butter cakes of her youth, Hedy Goldsmith recreates the sticky, moist dessert and adds coffee, toffee and cherries for seasonal flavors and an extra kick.

Get the Recipe: Gooey Milk Chocolate, Coffee and Toffee Butter Cake

Lemon Hazelnut Tiramisu

Giada gives traditional tiramisu a facelift by replacing the coffee and chocolate flavors with the bright zest of lemon and crunchy hazelnuts.

Get the Recipe: Lemon Hazelnut Tiramisu

Toasted Sesame and Candied Ginger Chocolate Truffle Tart

Flecked with toasted sesame seeds and tangy candied ginger, this decadent chocolate tart is totally in touch with its savory side.

Get the Recipe: Toasted Sesame and Candied Ginger Chocolate Truffle Tart

Apple Pie

Michael Symon uses lard to acheive a super flaky crust and fills his pie with tart Granny Smith apples and a touch of heavy cream and butter to thicken the mixture.

Get the Recipe: Apple Pie

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

The combination of stout beer and sour cream helps to make these chocolate cupcakes extra moist and fluffy.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Mini Olive Oil and Ricotta Pound Cakes

Instead of a pound of butter like the traditional recipe once called for, Nadia G.'s pound cake uses a combination of olive oil, butter and ricotta cheese to ensure a melt-in-your-mouth-moist texture.

Get the Recipe: Mini Olive Oil and Ricotta Pound Cakes with Chocolate Covered Orange Peel

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Instead of a cream cheese icing, Chuck Hughes tops his red velvet cupcakes with a sweet mixture of marscapone and whipped cream, which is rich and tangy but a lot lighter.

Get the Recipe: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Yorkshire Gingerbread

The key ingredient for making this gingerbread in the "Yorkshire" style is black treacle, which is just a British name for a very dark molasses.

Get the Recipe: Yorkshire Gingerbread

Tiny Lemon Angel Cakes with Lemon Confit

These miniature angel cakes are so light and airy, they could float away. Thank goodness the zesty lemon confit helps hold them down.

Get the Recipe: Tiny Lemon Angel Cakes with Lemon Confit

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pie

Emeril's creamy pie is chock-full of peanut butter flavor and is flecked with whole peanuts for a satisfying crunch.

Espresso Chocolate Mousse

Giada's espresso chocolate mousse takes only 10 minutes total to prep, but remember to let the mousse mixture cool before blending.

Get the Recipe: Espresso Chocolate Mousse with Orange Mascarpone Whipped Cream

Caramel Balsamic Swirl Ice Cream

Balsamic vinegar might sound out of place in ice cream, but Chuck Hughes reduces the vinegar so that it caramelizes into a thick, sweet and slightly tangy syrup that complements the frozen treat.

Get the Recipe: Caramel Balsamic Swirl Ice Cream

Canneles

Canneles are tiny little French cakes that get brown and crusty on the outside but remain moist on the inside. And unlike most buttery French pastries, each little cake has only 65 calories.

Get the Recipe: Canneles

Jamie's Leftover Christmas Pudding and Ice Cream Sundae

Jamie's recipe uses up all that leftover pudding and pie, but it's so delicious, you might want to make an extra pie or pudding to serve this dessert day-of.

Get the Recipe: Jamie's Leftover Christmas Pudding and Ice Cream Sundae

Chocolate Sformato with Amaretto Whip Cream

Sformato is a rich Italian flan. Giada serves this dark and chocolately dessert with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Sformato with Amaretto Whip Cream

Carrot Cake Pops

These festive carrot cake pops — playful, skewered miniature slices of cake that happen to look like Christmas trees — are also extremely practical for entertaining, since they're easily passed and don't require plates.

Get the Recipe: Carrot Cake Pops

No Recipe Recipe: Red Velvet Trifle

Aida uses store-bought red velvet cake for her trifle, but none of your guests need to know that their dessert was an easy-assembly job.

Get the Recipe: No Recipe Recipe: Red Velvet Trifle