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Dec 8, 2006 01:53 AM

BEST Christmas Dessert recipes

I dont want anything chocolately (I dont like chocolate, well, unless its a bit of white chocolate).. but I want to make something different and beautiful and impressive. Please help me out here!!

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  1. I really like to make Tarte Tatin for holiday desserts - an elegant twist on an apple pie. JC has a great recipe in "The Way to Cook".

    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      do you have this recipe handy by chance?

    2. Nothing sez Christmas dessert to me like an old-fashioned gingerbread, which of course is neither different nor beautiful; but its very nature, its homeyness and simplicity, transform it into an impressive addition to any holiday meal. People don't expect something so folksy, and many can't even remember the last time they ate a spicy chunk of heaven topped with freshly-whipped cream. Therein lies the secret to gingerbread's success. Why not serve two desserts, one more elaborate -- such as an eggnog cheesecake -- and the other the gingerbread? I'm willing to wager the gingerbread will be the star of the show (particularly if you use my recipe!).

      15 Replies
      1. re: Xanthippe

        Please share your gingerbread recipe, as well as the eggnog cheesecake, if possible.


        1. re: sljones

          By all means, I'll post both a bit later today; but first a much-anticipated dentist appointment ;-) !!

          1. re: sljones

            yeah all my gingerbreads have been miserable failures except the one out of the moosewood cookbook but that recipe is just a pain in the butt.

            1. re: choctastic

              No miserable failure here, this gingerbread is never-fail and always delicious. Now I know some folks go for fresh or crystallized ginger in their recipes; although I love both, neither have a place in old-fashioned gingerbread. Just my personal preference, of course!

              And here it is:

              (aka Mrs. Magoo’s Gingerbread)

              2 large eggs, at room temperature
              3/4 cup full-flavored, unsulphured molasses (do not use blackstrap molasses)
              1 scant cup packed light or dark brown sugar (Billington’s brand is best)
              2 tablespoons ground ginger (make sure the spice is fresh)
              Pinch each ground allspice, cinnamon and freshly ground pepper
              Grated zest of 1 lemon, @ 11⁄2 t. peel
              2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
              6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
              1/2 cup buttermilk
              1/4 cup milk
              1 teaspoon baking soda

              1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square cake pan or an 8-to-9 inch kugelhopf or Bundt pan.
              2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and frothy. Add the molasses and continue beating. Meanwhile, stir together the brown sugar, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, pepper and lemon zest. Gradually add to the egg mixture and beat until well-blended.
              3. Lower the speed slightly. Add about 1/3 of the flour, then the melted butter, then another 1/3 of the flour. Quickly stir together the buttermilk, milk and baking soda; add to the batter and mix gently. Add the remaining flour and mix just until evenly blended, no longer. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
              4. Bake until the gingerbread shrinks slightly away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges almost clean, about 45 minutes. If the top of the gingerbread is browning too quickly, loosely cover it with foil halfway through the baking time.
              5. Cool the gingerbread in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into large squares and serve directly from the pan, with applesauce, whipped cream, or Mrs. Magoo’s personal favorite, Dulce de Leche ice cream.

              1. re: Xanthippe

                Wonderful! And any suggestions on the eggnog cheesecake? My family loves cheesecake, I'd like to have a recipe for that.

                1. re: sljones

                  Oops, I *did* mention eggnog cheesecake, then promptly forgot to post the recipe! Sorry for the oversight.

                  Don't recall the original source for this, but I think it's an older Dorie Greenspan recipe. Truly luscious, cheesecake heaven.

                  EGGNOG CHEESECAKE

                  (serves 8 to 10)

                  The crust:
                  • 9 whole graham crackers
                  • 2 tablespoons sugar
                  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
                  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
                  Position a rack in center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F. Grind the graham crackers, sugar and ground cinnamon together in a food processor, then transfer the crumb mixture to a medium bowl. Add the butter and toss until evenly moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom and 1 3/4 inches up the sides of a 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Freeze the crust until cold, about 10 minutes, then bake just until it begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer the crust to a rack and cool.

                  The filling:
                  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
                  • 3/4 cup sugar
                  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
                  • 1 tablespoon brandy
                  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
                  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
                  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
                  Beat the cream cheese and sugar together in a mixer (preferably one fitted with a paddle attachment) until very smooth. Add the rum, brandy, vanilla extract and nutmeg and beat to blend. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until they're just blended. Spoon the filling into the crust and bake until the filling is puffed, very light brown and softly set in the center, about 45 minutes. Transfer the cheesecake to a rack and cool 30 minutes, during which time the center may fall slightly.

                  Increase the oven temperature to 400 F.

                  The topping:
                  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
                  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
                  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
                  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
                  • Cinnamon sticks
                  In a medium bowl, whisk the sour cream, sugar and extract to blend. Pour the mixture gently over the cheesecake, filling the center depression, and spread evenly to the edges. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cheesecake to a rack to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

                  Cut around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake, then release the pan sides. Sift ground cinnamon and nutmeg lightly over the cake and arrange a cluster of short cinnamon sticks in the center of the cake before serving.

            2. re: sljones

              I'd go with Guinness Stout ginger cake from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course. It's great and, if you have a microplane to grate the fresh ginger, not at all difficult. It's been posted on Chowhound and it is on the Epicurious website. Note however the Epicurious has two such recipes attributed to Fleming. Use the one that has half as much sugar as the other.

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  I totally second the Guinness gingerbread!

                  Last year I got one of those bundt castle pans from WS-- it really dresses up the 'bread.

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    This is the recipe that's verbatim from The Last Course, which I also highly recommend (the one Lovey Howell linked is the altered recipe with twice the sugar and no fresh ginger):

                    It's wonderful with some poached pears or cinnamon ice cream, or maple or cinnamon-flavored whipped cream (steep some cinnamon sticks in warm cream, then chill and whip).

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      This looks interesting. I think I did reduce the sugar last year based on the reviews and I also added in candied ginger.

                      Another fun Christmas dessert is Figgy Pudding. I once made the recipe in Laurel's Kitchen and it was quite good. It would be amusing to use one of the traditional molds, implale it with holly, and set it aflame tableside. I love foods you set on fire!!

                      Speaking of which, last year I also made a Flaming Hot Baked Alaska which, in addition to being flambéed at the end, was filled with a chocolate-chipotle cake and a raspberry-chipotle ice cream. I didn't spice up the meringue because I was afraid that the oils in the chile powder might prevent it from whipping. It was a giant success.

                      1. re: Lovey Howell

                        Your caliente baked alaska sounds great, do you have a recipe to share or can you point us to a source?

                        1. re: sljones

                          Yes, it was quite easy-- I took a few shortcuts in raw materials to save time. First, for the cake I took a Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix and added a good tablespoon of chipotle powder along with the other ingredients and baked it in a jellyroll pan. When it came out of the oven, I lined a smallish mixing bowl with wax paper and then slices of brownie. It doesn't have to be perfect because it will be covered with meringue. Then I put it in the freezer.

                          Next, I softened a quart of Bluebell Natural Vanilla Bean and swirled into it about a half cup of Fischer & Wieser Roasted Raspberry Chipotle sauce and some shaved chocolate. This mixture I then packed into the cake-lined bowl and left in the freezer overnight. After Christmas dinner, I whipped up 4 or 5 egg whites and took the cake out of the freezer and turned it out on to a oven-safe platter, removing the waxed paper, natch. Then I frosted the cake with meringue and popped it under the broiler until it was set and light brown at the peaks. I put a sugar cube at its top and took it to the table, where I doused the cube with brandy and lit a match to it. In all modesty, I must say the effect was spectacular and an unforgettable Christmas moment.

                          Clearly, this cake could be even better if everything was made from scratch, but because of the elaborate presentation and high quality ingredients, I don't think anyone even suspected it wasn't all 'homemade.'

                          I don't know if Fischer & Wieser sauces are available outside of Texas, but I highly recommend them:

              1. re: Xanthippe

                Yah, I plan to do two desserts. One with a fruit/lighter feel maybe a pie, and one a cake of some sort. Now, my family doesnt eat cheesecake so it will have to be some type of real cake.. but gingerbread would be nice.. any way we could think of decorating it up so its nice and fancy??

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  You know, I'm hopeless when it comes to "fancy-ing up" food, so perhaps others will have some ideas. Last year, though, I managed to make some passable marzipan Christmas trees and holly; they actually looked rather festive when placed on top of the gingerbread and presented on the dessert table. But that's the end of my fancy repertoire!

              2. I went on about several favorite cake recipes recently.
                Marzipan Cream Cake got even the non-dessert loving guests clamoring for more.

                There is a raspberry walnut (?) torte I remember as being very impressive - a nice textured low cake with raspberry preserves or jam on top and a white (cream cheese?) icing or frosting on the outside. It's been a long time but I ran across the picture recently and it surely is pretty. You could make it with cranberry instead for a holiday theme?

                Another idea is the flat fruit tarts. Depending on your fruits and flair for display, they can be light and so pretty! A pie crust with a layer of marzipan rolled out on top, fruits and a glaze of jam on top of that. Always gets a "oooh!". An apple version like an apple pie, with ice cream on top. I like it being lighter after a heavy meal.

                I'm remembering some of these from those old Pillsbury Bake Off booklets they sold in the grocery stores.

                3 Replies
                1. re: HolidayBaker

                  Marzipan cream cake sounds great. Do you have a recipe? Thanks!

                  I like the fruit tart idea, too. I have one w/ a cream cheese base, then you layer apples (or I do pears) and bake again. Pretty presentation. Oh, and I have a chocolate pecan shortbread tart that's really pretty and tastes great if you're interested. It's covered w/ chocolate, then I add melted white chocolate and swirl w/ toothpick.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Yes, I have the recipes. Sorry I did not see this earlier. Are we allowed to put the copyrighted recipes here? Don't know the rules. If not, I'll send directly given an email. But not til after the bake sale today!

                    1. re: HolidayBaker

                      You can post the ingredients but paraphrase the directions. Or, if you can find it online, just post the link. That would be great when you get a chance! I know you're up to your elbows with baking!

                2. I like either a Caramel Apple Cheesecake or a White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake. Both look and taste delish....

                      1. re: morebubbles

                        My daughter works at an Italian bakery/deli and we used their recipe last year. I'll see if I can scare it up but we're having the tile replaced in the kitchen and I promise nothing.