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Holiday Desserts

I would really appreciate some of your favorite holiday dessert recipes. In about 6 weeks we will have to start making those desserts again. I am really looking forward to it.

Here is my dark Chocolate ganache recipe. I scoop and hand roll this ganache and then dip it in more dark chocolate.

16 ounces dark chocolate ( I use callebaut 834 semisweet 54% cocoa ≈ 35% cocoa butter. This way I can use it both for the ganache and for the dip.)

7 ounces heavy cream
3.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons liqueur ( I use half ameretto and half Grand Marnier)
4 drops Loran flavor oils ( again half ameretto and half orange liqueur)

1. Melt chocolate in microwave with 30 second bursts on level 8.
2. Heat cream in pot to about 180.
3. Combine cream, corn syrup, and chocolate and stir together until blended.
4. Add liqueur and flavor drops. Stir.
5. Let set until about 80 degrees.
6. Add butter 1 pat at a time
7. Whip
8. allow to set up in refrigerator at least 2 hours.

You can change the flavors all you want with a change in the liqueurs and flavor oils.

If you don't wish to dip these in chocolate (only reason I do is I have a tempering machine), you can roll these in cocoa, coconut, or chopped nuts.

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  1. Hank: thanks, sounds delicious, but how much corn syrup?

    3 Replies
    1. re: pine time

      Oh sorry. I modified my recipe so that I don't use it here. It used to be 1 tablespoon but with semisweet chocolate, it really has no use. If you were using bittersweet chocolate, you would need it.

      You use corn syrup in a ganache to sweeten and to make it shiny.

      I have several other flavors of truffles. I guess I should post those, too.

      1. re: Hank Hanover

        White Chocolate Genache Recipe

        16 oz white chocolate
        3.5 ounces heavy cream
        3 tablespoons unsalted butter
        4 tablespoons Liqueur I use ameretto
        4 drops loran flavor oil (Ameretto)

        1. Melt chocolate in microwave with 30 second bursts on level 8.
        2. Heat cream in pot to about 180.
        3. Combine cream, flavoring, liqueur and chocolate and stir together until blended.
        4. Stir until combined.
        5. Let set until about 80 degrees.
        6. Whip
        7. Allow to set up in refrigerator at least 2 hours.

        White Chocolate Peanut Butter Geanache

        16 ounces White chocolate
        9 ounces Heavy cream
        8 ounces commercial peanut butter

        1. Melt chocolate in microwave with 30 second bursts on level 6.
        2. Heat cream in pot to about 180.
        3. Combine cream and chocolate and stir together until blended.
        4. Stir until combined.
        5. Add peanut butter & stir. Minimize the stirring to prevent separation
        6. Let set until about 80 degrees.
        7. Whip
        8. Allow to set up in refrigerator at least 2 hours.

        1. re: Hank Hanover

          Black Forest Genache
          16 oz dark chocolate (I use Callebaut 815 semisweet) finely chopped
          7 oz heavy cream
          3.5 Tbls unsalted butter, softened
          4 Tbls Liqueur (I use DeKypers cherry brandy)
          8 drops of Loran flavor oils, optional (I use cherry)
          ½ cup dehydrated cherries that have been chopped and rehydrated with the cherry brandy

          Almond Joy Genache
          16 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
          8 oz heavy cream
          3 Tbls unsalted butter, softened
          8 drops of Loran flavor oils, optional (I use half Ameretto & half coconut)
          ½ cup Sweetened coconut
          ½ cup toasted chopped almonds

          Pina Colada Genache
          16 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
          5 Tbls + 1 tsp heavy cream
          3 Tbls unsalted butter, softened
          6 Tbls dark rum
          8 drops of Loran flavor oils, optional (I use pina coloda)
          ½ cup Sweetened coconut
          6 Tbls dehydrated pineapple, chopped and rehydrated in the rum

          1. Melt chocolate in microwave with 30 second bursts on level 8.
          2. Heat cream in pot to about 180.
          3. Combine cream, and chocolate and stir together until blended.
          4. Add liqueur and flavor drops. Stir.
          5. Let set until about 85 degrees.
          6. Add butter 1 pat at a time
          7. Whip
          8. Allow to set up in refrigerator at least 2 hours.

      2. This recipe for gingerbread pumpkin trifle is big hit in my family (and box mix gingerbread has been substituted more than once):


        2 Replies
        1. re: Terrie H.

          Oh, Terrie H., you may have created a trifle monster in the Pine household. If it ever cools off here, this is on the menu. Gracias a thousand times over!

          1. re: Terrie H.

            Very interesting idea, and I may try it.

          2. Great idea for a thread. I'm curious about your technique, specifically the advantages you gain using the microwave. I would be scared to scorch the chocolate, though I'm assuming you are stirring after each burst. Typically I would finely chop the chocolate, then pour the heated liquid over it and let it sit a few minutes before slowly whisking to form an emulsion. This produces a lovely traditional result -- what does the pre-melting add? Does it give you a different texture? Always looking to understand more....

            4 Replies
            1. re: maxie

              My Mom always made this cake for Thanksgiving; we love it. Of course, we had Pumpking Pie, too, the one from the label of the can of Libby's Pumpkin.

              Golden Harvest Cake and Frosting

              2 cups sifted flour
              1 1/4 cup sugar
              3 t baking powder
              1 t salt
              1/4 t ginger
              1/2 t mace
              1/2 t allspice
              1/2 t nutmeg
              1/2 t cinnamon
              1/2 cup shortening
              2 eggs plus enough milk to make 3/4 cup
              1/2 cup canned pumpkin
              1/4 cup milk

              1/2 c margarine
              1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
              1/4 cup milk
              1 3/4 - 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
              1 t vanilla
              1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped and toasted

              Cake: Measure and sift dry ingredients. Add shortening, eggs/milk. Mix 2 minutes on medium speed or 150 strokes by hand per minute. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl frequently. Add pumpkin and 1/4 cup milk. Mix 2 minutes on medium speed or 150 strokes by hand per minute. Pour batter into two round 8” pans. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until done.

              Frosting: Melt margarine and brown sugar together in saucepan. Cook over low heat 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Cool. Add vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and stir until of good spreading consistency. Spread between layers and on sides of cake or frost cake entirely. Sprinkle nutmeats on top.

              To toast nutmeats: Spread in a shallow pan and heat in a moderate oven until browned.

                1. re: Hank Hanover

                  To my mind, it taste nothing like a spice cake.

              1. re: maxie

                Pouring scalded milk works just fine. Now if I was just wanting to melt chocolate, I would do it in the microwave every time over a double boiler because it is a big risk getting even a drop of water into melted chocolate. I have never scorched real chocolate. I did scorch Wilton's candy melts once.

                In this case, the pre-melting really doesn't add much.

              2. I think my absolute favorite holiday dessert is still Alton Brown's Free Range Fruitcake.


                I have to sub apple cider for the rum, and I glaze it with bitter orange marmalade instead of the brandy spritz, but even without the booze, it is delicious. I try to make a few around Thanksgiving, so they're ready to eat by Christmas.

                1. Great thread, Hank, and your ganache sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing, and I will post some of our favorite holiday desserts soon, as well,

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: sunflwrsdh

                    Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake on the Epicurious site [http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...] I read somewhere that it is their most requested recipe.

                    1. re: Bethcooks

                      I have made pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, and love it. Bourbon would only improve it! I will check out htis recipe, and it may be on our Thanksgiving menu!

                      1. re: sunflwrsdh

                        +1; Frangelico Pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust has been a Tday staple off and on for about 15 years. Makes SO much - serves about 16-20! Not cheap to make, but great for a crowd, and can be made ahead.

                        I buy those small individual frangelico's if I am feeling cash-pour - it only takes 3, which is half the cost of a small regular bottle.

                        DON'T skip the sour cream topping....

                      2. re: Bethcooks

                        I have made that cheesecake several times - it is one of my most favourite recipes. LOVE it. And will be making it this coming weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving.

                        1. re: foodie_guru

                          +1. I have made that recipe several times as well. At our house it's a fancier, more satisfying stand in for pumpkin pie.

                    2. Sticky Toffee Pudding is a favorite with us. I love this recipe:

                      And gingerbread, of course!:

                      1. One of our all time favs gingerbread from Gramercy Tavern (we use Orval beer instead of Guinness Stout)


                        And marzipan fruit cake from Nigella Lawson (sorry, I had trouble getting the right recipe directly from Nigella's site



                        1. I've never been a fan of pumpkin pie, but I absolutely love this brown sugar squash pie.

                          1. If you want true decadence, try this chocolate souffle of Emeril's.


                            When I made it, I couldn't bring myself to spend the $25 per pound on the Hawaiian chocolate. I used Callebaut. It was still so rich that we couldn't eat all of our individual servings. My advice is to use small ramekins. You can give two to the real chocoholics.

                            Making a souffle isn't near as hard as you may think it is. Just carefully follow the directions. It only takes about 30 minutes.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                              If you want an even lighter soufflé, whisk a little of the beaten egg white into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, and then fold the chocolate mixture into the rest of the white, not the other way round (specified by the recipe).

                            2. Desserts don't have to be fancy or difficult. My wife has been making this ice box pie for years.

                              Pineapple Icebox Cake

                              • 1 (16 ounce) package large marshmallows
                              • 2 (15 ounce) cans crushed pineapple
                              • 4 bananas
                              • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
                              • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
                              • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs


                              1. Line one 9x13 inch baking pan with the graham cracker or vanilla wafer crumbs. Reserve a few crumbs as a garnish for the top.

                              2. Drain the pineapple, saving the juice. Melt the marshmallows in the pineapple juice over low heat. Once melted set aside to cool.

                              3. Cut up the bananas into chunks. Mix the bananas, chopped nuts, and crushed pineapple into the cooled marshmallow mixture.

                              4. Fold the fruit mixture into the whipped cream. Spoon batter into the graham cracker or vanilla wafer lined pan. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top. Chill well before serving. Makes about 14 to 18 servings.

                              1. For me it's "good butter" short bread cookies. Meaning with like Kerry Gold butter because it's the shining flavor in the cookie.

                                Wild turkey pecan pie, because that bourbon is vanilla like with spice in it. Woodford has a lot of caramel notes with vanilla, but too $$ to toss in the pie. I just put 2 Tbs in a normal recipe and it makes a huge difference with my family.

                                Then there is the traditional pumpkin pie. I only make it now so, my SO begs for it. I just use the recipe on the side of the can of Libby's canned pumpkin.

                                1. I sometimes use a recipe for pumpkin pie that is made with sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated. One time.. only one time (!), years ago, I found a couple of cans of almond flavored Eagle Brand. It made the most fantastic pumpkin pie, and I have looked for the stuff ever since without ever finding it.

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                    Well, that's why we have almond extract.

                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                      Yep. And I have done it with almond extract. The almond SCM just seemed richer, in some way.

                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                        Maybe it was almond paste in the SCM? Though that would be pricey. Hmmm.

                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                            Or bitter almond extract for a SERIOUS almond boost!

                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                Precisely! I found it earlier this year (not Dr. Oetker's, but same base product) and was thrilled. A l'il more info here if you're interested--along with an additional DO NOT LICK warning:

                                                1. re: souschef

                                                  Definitely--a little goes a mighty long way!

                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                    Here's what I've been using for the past few years, Sonoma Syrup's almond extract:


                                                    I love their vanillas, too.

                                                    I also have a bottle of Bakto almond extract, but I don't think I've used it yet.


                                          2. re: Hank Hanover

                                            I like this idea! Two great tastes that taste great together: SCM and almond extract! Mmmmm.

                                          3. re: jmcarthur8

                                            I use heavy cream and rum in pumpkin pie.

                                          4. Martha Stewart has a beautiful hummingbird cake with dried pineapple flowers on it. I highly recommend it. The flowers are easy. They are just thinly sliced pineapple dehydrated.


                                            1. I've made a variety of different pecan pies over the years but this one has been my favorite for awhile. I love that there is no corn syrup in it, and the maple syrup gives it great flavor. I don't use their crust recipe, I use my moms but I included it since it's posted together on their website.

                                              Yankee Pecan Pie

                                              1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur Pie & Pastry Blend or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
                                              1/4 teaspoon salt
                                              1 tablespoon sugar
                                              1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) chilled unsalted butter
                                              2 tablespoons chilled (3/4 ounce) vegetable shortening
                                              2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

                                              4 large eggs
                                              1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) brown sugar
                                              1/2 teaspoon salt
                                              1 1/2 cups (grade B (cooking) maple syrup
                                              1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
                                              1/4 teaspoon maple flavor ( I don't feel it needs this so I don't use it)
                                              1 1/2 cups (5 5/8 ounces) pecan halves or chopped pecans*

                                              *We often use chopped walnuts in place of the pecans.

                                              Crust: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the pastry blend, salt and sugar. Using a pastry blender, pastry fork, your fingers or a mixer, cut in the butter and shortening, leaving pea-sized crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs with enough ice water to make them cohesive, squeeze them into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour.

                                              Roll the pastry into a 12-inch circle, and place it in a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp the edges, and chill the crust while you're preparing the filling.

                                              Filling: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, maple syrup, melted butter and maple flavor. Stir in the nuts and pour the filling into the prepared crust.

                                              Baking: Bake the pie on the bottom rack of a preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 25 to 35 minutes, or until the center is set. Yield: 10 to 12 servings.


                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: rasputina

                                                That's similar to mine. I also use vanilla and a bit of rum. MUCH more flavorful than the bland sweetness of the corn syrup pie.

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  I have heard of maple syrup and dark rum being added to pecan pie. I think that would be really interesting.

                                              2. Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Orange-Mint Buttercream

                                                - For the Cakes -
                                                2 cups all-purpose flour
                                                ½ cup cocoa powder
                                                1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
                                                1 teaspoon salt
                                                1 cup buttermilk
                                                1 teaspoon vanilla
                                                1 stick unsalted butter, softened
                                                1 cup brown sugar
                                                1 large egg, room temperature

                                                - For the Filling -
                                                2 cups powdered sugar
                                                4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
                                                3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
                                                1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
                                                ¼ - ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
                                                ¼ teaspoon salt
                                                Orange zest, to taste

                                                - For the Cakes -

                                                Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
                                                In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt until combined.
                                                In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk and vanilla.
                                                In a large bowl, using a stand or hand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the egg and beat until well combined.
                                                Reduce the mixer speed to low, or hand mix at this point, and alternately mix in the flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally and mix until smooth.
                                                Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter about 1-2 inches apart onto the baking sheet.
                                                Bake in the upper portion of the oven for the first half of the baking time and switch to the lower third of the oven for the second half of the time.
                                                Bake 10-12 minutes until the tops are puffed and the cakes spring back when touched.
                                                Transfer to a rack to cool completely before assembling.

                                                - For the Filling -

                                                Using a stand or hand mixture, beat together the powdered sugar and butter on low until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, peppermint, salt and orange zest and beat on high until smooth, about 3 minutes.

                                                - For the Assembly -

                                                To assemble, spread a desired amount of filling onto the base of a cake and top with another cake.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: limonay

                                                  I like that. Tell me, does the pepermint extract overpower the orange flavor in the filler?

                                                  If it does, Loran flavor oils have an orange flavor, I believe.

                                                2. This bittersweet chocolate cloud cake is seriously, seriously rich.


                                                  1. I haven't made this one but it looks really good.


                                                    If you wanted to be lazy, I suspect you could use pie filling instead of the cherry mixture.

                                                    1. Epicurious considers this their ultimate pumpkin pie.


                                                      1. I always make tiramisu for the holidays. I swear it's the only reason my in-laws put up with me.
                                                        I also love that it's kind of a dessert shill. The first time one serves it to novices, you can see they're kind indifferent because it doesn't look fancy or even like it will be good, but then they taste and swoon and beg for more.
                                                        Bonus that it's night-before prep friendly. I have made it fancier by adapting my recipe it to work in a springform pan and be slicable, but missing that lovely gushy glopiness, it's just not as good.

                                                        1. A charlotte is very impressive for the holidays and surprisingly easy.

                                                          1. White Chocolate Cherry Mousse pie is a wonderful holiday dessert.