Best Holiday Appetizer Recipes & Best Holiday Dessert Recipes
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.
Roasted Beet Crostini
The entire beet plant--roots, stems and greens--can be used in this stunning appetizer. The beets are roasted then pureed with goat cheese for a creamy ruby-red spread. The greens and stems are sautéed with olive oil and garlic for the topping.
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.
Roasted Pears with Brie & Pistachios
Roasted pears with Brie and pistachios is delicious as a first course or a side with roast pork or lamb. Leave the stems on for the prettiest presentation.
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.
You could also serve the scallops over Asian salad greens dressed with sesame oil and rice vinegar for a simple dinner.
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.
Polenta Wedges with Tomato Tapenade
Crispy pieces of polenta topped with a tangy sun-dried tomato tapenade makes a pretty and tasty appetizer.
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.
Quinoa Cakes with Smoked Salmon
These crisp quinoa cakes spiked with smoked salmon and topped with lemony sour cream make a lovely appetizer.
This show-stopping dessert is a New Zealand (and Australian) classic reportedly created in honor of the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova when she visited the Southern Hemisphere. Our version delivers a wonderful combination of sweet meringue crunch and velvety tart lemon curd. The meringue is somewhat fragile--expect it to crack and crumble a bit as you slice it into individual servings. For the best results, avoid making the meringue on a humid or rainy day. The extra moisture in the air may prevent it from drying and crisping properly.
Marinated Olives & Feta
Olives and feta marinated with rosemary, lemon and garlic are great served on crisp flatbread-style crackers or warm slices of crusty baguette.
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.
Mini Brie & Apple Quiches
We love the way Brie and apples taste together in these mini quiches. Mini phyllo cups make it swift and simple to create an elegant appetizer.
These coconut-chocolate-almond-topped shortbread cookies are reminiscent of Almond Joy candy bars.
Caviar-Stuffed New Potatoes
Caviar lovers agree that the best presentations are the simplest.
Rich, creamy, vanilla bean-flecked pudding tempers the tart-sweet pomegranate compote. Pick out small, festive glass dessert dishes for this pretty parfait.
Ham & Red Pepper Spread
Spread this creamy ham and roasted red pepper dip on Belgian endive, crackers or toasted baguette or use it as a dip for vegetables.
Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
This rustic cake is a delicious alternative to pie and uses one of the tastiest fruits of the fall harvest--cranberries. The basic recipe is very versatile and can be made with apples, pears, peaches, plums or any full-flavored, slightly acidic fruit. Just arrange the fruit in the skillet before you pour the batter over it. The cake is best served warm; if you can, put it in the oven just before you sit down to dinner. Recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.
Spinach-&-Brie-Topped Artichoke Hearts
In this deconstructed version of hot spinach-artichoke dip, we stuff artichoke hearts with lightly seasoned cooked spinach and melt Brie on top.
Cured or Smoked Salmon Appetizer Platter
This smoked salmon platter requires little effort but the spread makes a big impression. Served with all the fixings--capers, hard-boiled eggs, cucumber and more--a smoked salmon platter is the ultimate make-ahead appetizer. Lay out everything listed in the ingredients below or just a few of the elements along with an assortment of crackers, cocktail bread and/or sliced baguette.
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.
Artichoke & Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms
For this healthy stuffed mushroom recipe, marinated artichokes and Parmesan cheese are mixed with thyme and panko breadcrumbs for a delicious filling. If serving at a party, you might consider doubling the recipe. These stuffed mushrooms will be devoured quickly!
Cranberry-Coconut Bread Pudding
In this healthy bread pudding recipe, whole-wheat bread, fresh cranberries, candied ginger and toasted coconut come together for a memorable dessert. To make individual bread puddings instead of one large pan, divide the batter among 12 small oiled individual baking dishes (about 8 ounces each). Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover, sprinkle with coconut and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more.
Pear-Pecan Cheese Ball
Sweet pear, salty Cheddar cheese and crunchy nuts make this healthy cheese ball recipe an alluring holiday treat. Serve with an array of crudités and crisp party crackers.
Eggnog Pie with Cranberry Sauce
This healthy custard pie recipe combines the flavors of gingerbread and eggnog into a festive holiday dessert. An easy cranberry sauce balances the sweetness of the pie with a touch of tartness. To lighten the load of holiday baking, each element can be prepared up to 5 days ahead.