No matter how much you fill up on turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes, there is always room for dessert. Case in point: these delicious holiday dessert recipes. Try one of these sweet treats for your next family gathering, holiday party, or office dessert swap!

Peppermint Bark

Worried how you’re going to making a dessert that stands out amid the office cookie swap? Peppermint bark is the perfect cookie alternative, and although it appears complicated and impressive, it’s relatively easy to make, even for novice bakers.

This recipe only calls for five ingredients, but the quality of those ingredients can make or break this peppermint bark.

The chocolate chips and white chocolate morsels you’ll find in the baking aisle aren’t always the best quality. They contain stabilizers, which prevent them from melting down to a perfectly silky-smooth texture. Sometimes that’s a good thing: it’s why chocolate chips don’t completely melt in chocolate chip cookies.

However, for the sake of some truly delicious peppermint bark, it’s essential to source some higher quality chocolate. Ghirardelli, Lindt, and Baker’s brand chocolate are slightly more expensive than the bargain brand, but they’ll melt the way you want. Plus, you’ll be able to taste the difference. Really!

Another tip for this peppermint bark recipe: Take your time. Make sure you allow the chocolate layers to cool in between layering. Otherwise, you’ll end up swirling the two together, and your peppermint bark won’t have the same visual effect.

peppermint-bark-recipeImage via Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces high-quality white chocolate, broken into pieces, divided
  • 6 ounces high-quality semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable, coconut, or canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, divided
  • 3 regular size candy canes, crushed

Directions

  1. Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch or 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Smooth out any wrinkles. Set aside.
  2. Crush candy canes using a food processor or smashing in a sealed plastic bag with a rolling pin.
  3. Melt the white chocolate using either a microwave or a double boiler over barely simmering water. If using a microwave, work slowly because chocolate overheats very quickly. Combine 1/2 teaspoon of oil with 6 ounces of white chocolate in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Working in 15 second increments, melt the white chocolate and stir vigorously with a spatula or spoon until chocolate is melted and the texture is smooth. Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl to prevent scorching. Once chocolate is melted, add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract. Stir to combine. Pour melted white chocolate mixture into the lined baking pan, using a spatula to spread chocolate in a thin, even layer. Place baking pan in the refrigerator to set for 10-15 minutes or in the freezer for 8 minutes, or until chocolate is almost completely set.
  4. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate. Combine semi-sweet chocolate with 1/2 teaspoon oil and follow the same process detailed in Step 3. Once chocolate is melted, stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract. Pour semi-sweet chocolate over the white chocolate layer, and spread into a smooth layer. Place baking pan in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes or the freezer for 8 minutes, or until almost completely set.
  5. Combine remaining 6 ounces white chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon oil, following the process detailed in Step 3. This layer will not include peppermint extract. Once melted, pour melted white chocolate over other bark layers and spread into a smooth, even layer.
  6. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes and refrigerate until bark is completely hardened.
  7. Once bark is hardened, remove from the pan, peel off remaining parchment paper or foil, and break into pieces as large or as small as you prefer.

Peppermint bark should be refrigerated and can keep up to 3 weeks. Bark can be left at room temperature for a few days, but it can get soft.

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Spiced Brown Butter Linzer Cookies

Nothing looks more festive on a holiday spread than a tray of buttery, jam-filled, sugar-dusted Austrian Linzer cookies. Yum! This recipe makes funky geometric shapes, but feel free to use any cookie cutter shape you’d like.

linzer-cookie-recipeImage via Bon Appétit

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • 1/2 cup red currant jelly

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, stirring frequently until butter foams, then browns, about 5-8 minutes. Scrape butter into a large bowl and let cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together salt, baking powder, spices, and 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour until combined.
  3. Add granulated sugar and lemon zest to browned butter. Scrape in vanilla and discard pod. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat mixture until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg, then yolks. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients until dough is well incorporated.
  4. Scoop out dough and knead on a flat surface until no dry spots remain. Divide dough in half and form 3/4-inch thick discs. Wrap tightly in plastic and chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours.
  5. Place oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350˚ F. Remove one dough disc from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Place a sheet of parchment paper onto the countertop and dust with flour. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness, periodically dusting with more flour to prevent sticking. Cut dough with cookie cutters and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with remaining disc of dough. Make sure to cut an even number.
  7. Using a smaller cookie cutter, punch out cutouts in half of the cookies. Chill 15 minutes, then bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway through. Allow cookies to cool completely on baking sheets.
  8. Once cookies are completely cooled, dust cutouts with powdered sugar. Spread whole cookies with 3/4 teaspoon jelly and top with powdered cookies. Let jam set for 15-20 minutes.

These Linzer cookies can be made a day in advance. Just cover and refrigerate to keep them fresh!

Adapted from Bon Appétit

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread is synonymous with the holidays, and this recipe yields the most perfectly soft and chewy gingerbread people.

Softened butter is key to this recipe. Melted butter will lead to a denser cookie, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Soft, chewy cookies are just easier to eat! Also, don’t skimp on the chill time. It’s important to wait at least 3 hours (or better yet, overnight!) before rolling out the dough.

You can also make this dough ahead of time. Gingerbread dough will keep in the fridge for approximately 2 days wrapped in plastic. If it feels super hard, let it warm up on the counter for a bit before rolling it out and baking. Then, decorate your gingerbread cutouts with sugar cookie icing.

easy-gingerbread-cookie-recipeImage via Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Sugar cookie icing, for decorating

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment to beat butter for 1 minute on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add brown sugar and molasses. Beat on medium-high speed until mixture is well combined and creamy. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Add egg and vanilla and beat on high for 2 minutes. Butter may separate, which is OK.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices until combined. On low speed, gradually add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until dough just comes together. Dough will be thick and sticky.
  3. Split the dough in half and place onto a piece of plastic wrap. Tightly wrap each piece of dough and flatten into a disc shape. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
  4. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
  5. Roll out the dough. Remove one disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Flour a work surface, as well as your hands and a rolling pin, and keep flouring the surface as your work. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut cookies into shapes and transfer to baking sheet, placing shapes at least 1 inch apart. Repeat with remaining disc of dough.
  6. Bake cookies 9-10 minutes until slightly puffed and set. If you used cookie cutters smaller than 4 inches, bake about 8 minutes. For cookie cutters larger than 4 inches, bake about 11 minutes. Rotate the pan once during bake time to ensure cookies bake evenly.
  7. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.

Keep these cookies covered at room temperature, and they’ll stay fresh for up to a week!

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Salted Caramel-Chocolate Tart

Chocolate crust, a gooey caramel filling, and a bittersweet chocolate ganache are a trifecta of tastiness, but what really makes this recipe unique? Salt! Salt and chocolate pair perfectly, and salt also tempers butterfat (which this tart has a lot of), creating a more dimensional flavor.

For the perfect salted caramel-chocolate tart, it’s essential to use the right type of salt. Traditional Morton kosher salt won’t completely dissolve in the caramel filling. Instead, use Diamond Crystal kosher salt for best results. Some may view this level of attention to detail as unnecessarily nitpicky, but it makes all the difference. Trust us, one forkful of this tart, and you’ll understand.

salted-caramel-chocolate-tart-recipeImage via Bon Appétit

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons chilled milk or water

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

For the ganache:

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (do not go above 70% cacao), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Flaky sea salt

Directions

  1. Prepare the crust. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, sugar, salt, and 1 2/3 cups flour. Add butter and toss to coat. Use your hands to smash butter into dry ingredients until you work the butter down to a fine texture until it nearly disappears. Dough should have a loose, sandy texture. Make a well in the center of the dough and add the egg yolk and milk or water. Use a fork to fluff the mixture. Work the dough more than you would regular dough. It should hold together when squeezed. Tightly wrap dough in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc shape. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit 5 minutes. Begin rolling it out on a lightly floured surface to about 14 inches across and 1/8-inch thick. Dust with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Don’t worry if the dough is crumbly or starts cracking. You’ll be able to patch it as you go.
  3. Lift the edge of the crust, tossing some flour under, and slide the tart pan’s removable bottom underneath. Carefully fold the edges of the dough toward to middle of the crust, creating a sort of dough tray. Then, lower the dough into the tart pan. Patch cracks or thin spots with leftover dough as necessary. Use a rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to slice off excess dough. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork and place in freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. While the crust is in the freezer, make the salted caramel filling. Combine sugar, cream of tartar, and 1/3 cup water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Once sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture resembles a clear syrup, slowly begin turning up the heat. This step takes time, so be patient. After several minutes, the sugar will become amber-colored, and you will see little wisps of smoke. Very carefully add butter and stir until butter is melted. Add heavy cream and salt. Remove saucepan from heat and continue to stir. Transfer caramel to a large heatproof measuring glass and let cool until warm.
  5. Blind bake the frozen crust. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Cover crust with a sheet of parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or rice. The weight prevents the crust from puffing or slumping during the blind bake. Bake 12-15 minutes.
  6. Make the chocolate ganache. Make a double boiler by placing a large, heatproof mixing bowl atop a simmering saucepan. Add chocolate, butter, and heavy cream. Stir until melted and smooth. Let sit at room temperature to cool.
  7. Remove crust from oven. Edges should look dry. If some of the parchment paper pulls up dough, patch with excess dough. Bake again for 18-22 minutes.
  8. Remove crust from oven and allow to cool completely. Pour in warm caramel filling. Let caramel filling cool completely, at least 1 hour.
  9. Pour in chocolate ganache, leaving a bit of space between the crust, so the caramel peeks through. Use the back of a spoon to make swirls with the ganache. Then, sprinkle on flaky salt.
  10. Remove tart from pan and let sit at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Bon Appétit

3-Ingredient Egyptian Butter Cookies

These Egyptian-style butter cookies are bite-sized, melt-in-your-mouth perfection, and that’s not even the best part! These eggless cookies require just three ingredients (four if you count the dash of baking powder used to create a light-as-air texture).

Ghorayebah (gho-ra-yeb-ah) are a traditional type of Egyptian cookie commonly served during holiday meals and other special occasions. They taste a bit like shortbread cookies, but they’re softer and fluffier thanks to ghee, or clarified butter.

A word to the wise: You may be tempted to substitute ghee with unsalted butter. Don’t!

Ghee is made by melting regular butter. Water evaporates, and butter separates into liquid fats and milk solids. Once separated, the milk solids are removed and ghee remains. Because ghee doesn’t contain the water content of regular butter, it leads to even smoother, even more melt-in-your-mouth cookies. If you swap ghee for butter, you’ll wind up with crispy cookies. Still good, but not great.

butter-cookie-egyptian-ghorayebah-recipeImage via The Mediterranean Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ghee
  • 1/2 powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Slivered almonds (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whip ghee using an electric mixer on low speed.
  2. Add powdered sugar and continue mixing on low speed. Gradually increase speed to medium until texture appears smooth and fluffy.
  3. Set mixer aside. Add baking powder and 1 cup flour, kneading with your hands. Add remaining 1 cup flour. Continue kneading until flour is incorporated and dough is soft.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350˚ F and prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Remove dough from refrigerator. Working with a heaping 1/2 tablespoon of dough at a time, form dough into walnut-sized balls. Gently press the top of the cookie, taking caution not to completely flatten the dough. Lightly press a slivered almond on top of the cookies, if desired. Arrange on baking sheet a few inches apart.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cookies will firm up and gain some color on the bottom but will remain fairly light on top.
  7. Remove cookies from oven and allow them to cool completely on the baking sheet. Do not touch them until they’ve cooled or they will fall apart. Sprinkle more powdered sugar on top and serve.

These cookies are so delicious you might not have the chance to store them. However, if stored in an air-tight container in a cool location, they can last for a couple of weeks.

Adapted from The Mediterranean Dish

Gluten-Free Spiced Honey Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This perfectly moist spiced honey cake tastes like the holidays, and the rich, decadent cream cheese frosting doesn’t hurt either! It’s proof that gluten-free desserts can be pretty darn delicious.

gluten-free-spiced-honey-cake-cream-cheese-frosting-recipeImage via Bon Appétit

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup whey or buttermilk

For the frosting and decorations:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, cream separated from milk, room temperature
  • Herb fronds, edible flowers, berries, or other seasonal flora for decoration

Directions

  1. Preheat oven 350˚ F. Coat a 9-inch springform cake pan with nonstick spray and line bottom with a round parchment paper cutout.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
  3. In another large bowl, combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, honey, egg, and egg yolk. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and discard pod. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat mixture until pale and combined, about 4 minutes. Lower speed to medium-low and gradually pour in orange juice and whey or buttermilk. Beat until frothy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients. Beat just until a pancake batter consistency is achieved.
  4. Pour batter into a cake pan and bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool, about 20 minutes. To remove cake from pan, run a knife around the edges of the cake. Flip cake pan onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth in a medium bowl using an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Add powdered sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and discard pod.
  6. Continue beating on low speed until mixture is light and thickened, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, add coconut cream one tablespoon at a time and beat until soft peaks form.
  7. Spoon frosting on top of cake and spread to edges. Decorate with herb fronds, flowers, berries, or other seasonal décor if desired.

You can bake the cake as many as 3 days ahead. Just be sure to store it tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Adapted from Bon Appétit

Pistachio and Cardamom Biscotti

Biscotti are centuries-old Italian biscuits derived from the Latin word biscoctus, which translates to “twice cooked” or “twice baked.” Dough is shaped into logs, baked, cooled, and baked again.

It’s the kind of fancy dessert you’ll find individually wrapped at your local coffee shop, and it’s surprisingly easy to make. This foolproof biscotti recipe is flavorful, dense, and crunchy without being too hard to bite on, just as biscotti should be!

There are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure your biscotti is a success. This easy biscotti recipe calls for a small amount of butter and chill time in the refrigerator. It’s atypical of traditional biscotti recipes, but it makes all the difference.

Biscotti cookies are perfect for serving with after-dinner coffee when you have company gathered around the table. Who knows, you just may find yourself making this biscotti to enjoy with your morning cup of coffee long after the holidays are over!

biscotti-recipeImage via The Mediterranean Dish

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup salted and shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground green cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.
  3. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until texture is light and fluffy. Then, reduce speed to low and add one egg at a time, gently beating until mixture is well-combined.
  4. Set mixer aside. Add pistachios, cardamom, and vanilla. Mix with a spoon to combine.
  5. Stir in the flour and baking powder mixture until just combined.
  6. Dust a lined baking sheet with flour. Spoon dough on top and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  7. Adjust oven rack to middle and preheat oven to 350˚ F.
  8. Remove dough from refrigerator. Flour your hands and begin smoothing and shaping the dough into a 12-inch long log.
  9. Bake 25 minutes, or until dough is slightly golden, rotating baking sheet halfway through.
  10. Dough will still be quite soft. Remove baking sheet from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the log into 3/8-inch slices. Arrange biscotti slices on the baking sheet, spaced 1/2 inch apart.
  11. Reduce oven heat to 275˚ F. Bake biscotti slices for 30-35 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove from heat and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Not a fan of cardamom? Swap it for nutmeg or cinnamon. You can also swap the pistachios for blanched almonds.

If you want crunchier biscotti, give the slices another quick bake on an even lower 250˚ F oven. Make sure biscotti have cooled completely before storing in either a loosely covered glass or tin container. It also helps to line the container with a paper towel. If properly stored, these biscotti can last for up to 2 weeks.

Adapted from The Mediterranean Dish

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