Stunning Holiday Dessert Recipes
Mocha Yule Log
A bûche de Noël--a cake decorated like a yule log--is a traditional dessert served around Christmastime in France, Belgium, Canada and some other French-speaking countries. Our recipe, which is just as tasty served cold as it is at room temperature, is lighter than air. The chocolate brown-butter génoise cake made with whole-grain flour is easy to roll up and it's covered with a billowy espresso-spiked 7-minute frosting. We've substituted agave nectar for white sugar in the frosting. It's pretty garnished with meringue mushrooms and sugared rosemary.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap-Walnut Crust
We pulled out a few of our favorite EatingWell tricks to achieve plenty of creaminess in our pumpkin cheesecake without all the saturated fat of a typical recipe: nutrient-packed canned pumpkin and pureed nonfat cottage cheese replace some of the cream cheese. A touch of pumpkin pie spice warms up the flavor. For the crust, shop the natural-foods section for gingersnaps without any hydrogenated oil. Simple toasted walnuts are an elegant garnish. Or try making candied walnuts. Just be careful not to eat all of them before they make it to the cake!
Peppermint Pattie Pots de Creme
We love York peppermint patties and the flavor of these festive pots de crème is a dead ringer for the candy. Unlike traditional über-rich custard recipes, this custard uses low-fat milk, only 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of half-and-half for its creamy richness. Just 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract in the custard gives plenty of minty flavor, but if you want that icy mountain-breeze sensation, add a whole teaspoon instead.
Maple Pecan Tart with Dried Cherries
This pecan tart gets added tang from dried cherries. Instead of corn syrup, which is found in most pecan pie recipes, we've opted for maple syrup. If you can find it, choose dark amber or grade B, because it has the richest maple flavor. The crust, made with heart-healthy pecans and canola oil, couldn't be easier to whip together. Just blend it in the food processor and pat it into your tart pan.
Cranberry Coconut Trifle
No other dessert turns heads like a trifle. Festive in every way, this trifle recipe glows from within with scarlet layers of juicy cranberries. The filling is made from an astounding 6 cups of antioxidant-packed cranberries! We made the custard “skinny” with a combination of low-fat milk and light coconut milk. From-scratch brown-butter sponge cake, made with whole-wheat pastry flour, stands in for store-bought ladyfingers.
Holiday cookies don't get any cuter than these mini gingerbread houses that kids and adults alike will love. Use a mini gingerbread house cookie cutter to cut out all the parts (the kids will love helping with this part), then build the houses and let the kids go to town decorating. Line up your finished creations to make a gingerbread house village, eat them up or prop them up on mugs of cocoa for dipping and munching.
Cranberry Meringue Pie
If you're a fan of lemon meringue pie, you'll love this festive cranberry meringue pie recipe. For the fluffiest meringue, set your eggs out at room temperature for about 15 minutes or submerge (in the shell) in a bowl of lukewarm water for 5 minutes before beating--egg whites at room temperature will gain more volume than cold whites.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
Looking for a fun cooking project to do with kids? Make chocolate truffles! In this easy vegan dessert recipe, we make a chocolate ganache filling with peanut butter and coconut milk instead of heavy cream. Make chocolate bark with the leftover chocolate and wrap it up together with a few truffles for a beautiful edible gift.
Pumpkin-Chocolate Cream Cake
This healthy cake recipe is like a pumpkin-flavored version of Boston cream pie. Rather than the traditional round shape, we use a 9-by-13 pan to make a four-layer rectangular cake that looks fun and provides more layers of creamy goodness.
Pumpkin-Chocolate Torte with Pumpkin Whipped Cream
If you're ready for a change from standard pumpkin pie, try this pumpkin torte recipe with a deep chocolate flavor. Pureed pumpkin helps make the dessert incredibly moist and dense. The topping is whipped cream with a touch of vanilla and sugar and a bit of pureed pumpkin folded in.
Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate cream pie isn't just a diner special--it's the perfect dessert for any celebration. We love the added flair of chocolate curls on top, but a pretty dollop of whipped cream on each piece would look just as elegant.
Pear Custard Pie
A velvety, light custard surrounds ripe pears in this healthy pear pie recipe. Serve with a dollop of vanilla whipped cream.
Vanilla Candy Cane Peppermint Bars
These festive bars are easy to make for a cookie swap or holiday treats for friends and family.
Champagne Raspberry Jello
In this grown-up take on jello, we combine cran-raspberry juice with Champagne and fresh raspberries for a sparkling crimson dessert recipe.
Coffee Panna Cotta
Panna cotta (“cooked cream” in Italian) is a silky-smooth dessert that works beautifully with the flavor of coffee. The sauce was inspired by café brûlot, the New Orleans classic coffee drink spiked with flamed brandy. Cooking for teetotalers? Use brandy extract in the panna cottas and omit brandy (and flambéing) from the sauce. Garnish with chocolate-covered espresso beans, if desired. Recipe by Joyce Hendley for EatingWell.
Pavlovas with Cranberry-Ginger Sauce
This healthy, gluten-free dessert has everything--crisp-on-the-outside, gooey-inside meringue base, whipped cream, tart cranberry sauce and toasted nuts. Plus, you can make everything ahead of time, then simply assemble and serve.
Inspired by the old-school, ultra-rich, mousselike chocolate cake that usually called for a whole pound of chocolate, half a dozen eggs and lots of butter, this enlightened rendition has deep bittersweet chocolate flavor and dense melt-in-your-mouth texture. No one will guess it's healthier. The secret is excellent natural cocoa powder and good-quality bittersweet chocolate, preferably with 70% cacao. Although the cake can be eaten once it's completely cool, it comes out of the pan much easier and even tastes better if it has been chilled at least overnight.
Chocolate-Sweet Potato Parfait
This healthy chocolate mousse recipe gets its body from sweet potato rather than eggs. Both the mousse and the meringue cookies can be made ahead of time, so all you have to do is assemble the parfaits when you're ready for dessert.
Lusciously Nutty Holiday Logs
Registered Dietitian Mary LaRock flavored these phyllo rolls with orange and dark chocolate for a winning cookie that will be a lovely addition to any holiday cookie platter.
One bite of this light and airy cranberry-lime cheesecake recipe and it will become your go-to recipe for dessert. Part-skim ricotta cheese adds a delicate texture and stands in for some of the higher-fat cream cheese. Be sure to use a large, wide piece of heavy-duty foil to wrap the pan--the foil helps prevent water from seeping into the cake as it bakes.
Cranberry Bundt Cake
In this healthy cranberry-walnut Bundt cake recipe, Greek yogurt and shredded apple or pear keep the cake moist and are a healthy substitute for extra butter. If you want to use something other than allspice, try pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon in the filling. For a nut-free variation, omit the walnuts in the cake or use chopped dried cranberries in their place.
Pear Almond Crostata
This flaky crostata recipe relies on fruit for its sweetness instead of a lot of added sugar, so be sure to use only ripe pears. If they're rock-hard, put them in a paper bag with an apple or banana on the kitchen counter for a few days.
Pomegranate Poached Pears
Pears are simmered in a blend of tart pomegranate juice and sweet dessert wine with gorgeous garnet-red results. The pears are served with the reduced poaching liquid and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. A striking finale to any festive meal, garnish the pears with toasted slivered almonds and a touch of tangy Greek yogurt.
Clementine & Cocoa Nib Meringues
These flourless orange-and-chocolate-flavored meringues are an easy and healthy dessert cookie recipe perfect for after dinner or alongside a cup of afternoon tea. If you don't have a star-tip and pastry bag, improvise with a gallon-size plastic bag (snip 1/2 inch off one corner). Look for orange flower water and cocoa nibs in the baking section of natural-food markets and well-stocked supermarkets, or substitute dark chocolate shavings.