Holiday Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Holiday Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Food and Drink

Holiday Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Tis the season for celebrations, and holiday parties are not complete without dessert. Treat family and friends to something sweet as you gather this holiday season. Satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth with holiday desserts that are sure to make the season sparkle.

Champagne Cake Balls

Reprinted with permission from “Spectacular Spreads” by Maegan Brown, The BakerMama. ©2021 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc.

"Shimmering gilded delights made with Champagne in just the right size to leave guests with a touch of celebration and sweetness."

Makes: 24


1 16.25-ounce box white cake mix

1 ¼ cups Champagne or sparkling wine (or sparkling juice for kid-friendly), divided

½ cup canola or vegetable oil

3 large eggs

¼ cup whipped white cake frosting (store-bought)

1 16-ounce package vanilla candy coating or 2 (10-ounce) bags white melting wafers

12 festive paper straws, cut in half

1 2.2-ounce container gold shimmer sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 × 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cake mix, 1 cup of the champagne, oil, and eggs at medium speed until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the baking pan.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, crumble in the cooled cake along with the whipped white cake frosting and remaining ¼ cup Champagne. Beat on medium speed until the cake starts to come together.

Roll the mixture into 2-tablespoon-size balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or in the freezer for about 20 minutes to harden.

To coat the cake balls, melt the candy coating in a shallow microwave-safe bowl according to the package directions, usually 90 seconds to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Be sure not to over melt as it will burn and become too thick to stir and coat evenly. Cover another baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the cake balls from the refrigerator. Using a fork, gently roll a cake ball in the melted candy coating, remove, and let the excess coating drip off the fork before placing the ball on the prepared baking sheet. Immediately, while the coating is still melted, insert a paper straw, cut side down, into the top center about halfway into the cake ball. Sprinkle the coated ball with some gold shimmer sugar. Repeat with the remaining cake balls.

Allow the cake balls to set completely, and then break off any excess coating around the bottoms. Store the cake balls in a cool, dry place, covered in plastic wrap or in a sealed container.

Salted Hazelnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Courtesy Oregon Hazelnuts

"Etch your name at the top of Santa’s “nice” list forever with these indulgences. The creamy, buttery-ness of hazelnuts makes a perfect companion for the chunks of rich, dark chocolate."

Makes: 30


3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped

2 3-ounce bars Moonstruck Dark Chocolate 68% Cacao, chopped

2 tablespoons Jacobsen Pure Flake Finishing Salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Add the sugars and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low and then increase to medium-high. Mix for about two minutes until pale yellow in color and smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl.

Add the vanilla and then mix in the egg. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Next add the flour and mix on medium until a cookie dough forms, about 1 minute. Add the hazelnuts and the chocolate and mix on low for about 20 seconds to combine all ingredients.

Transfer the cookies in generous tablespoon-size portions to the baking sheets with no more than 12 cookies per tray. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with flaked sea salt.

Bake each tray for about 10 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown at the edges and are firm in the center.

Let cool for 3 minutes on the tray, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

CB’s Cranberry-Apple Skillet Crisp

Excerpted from Char-Broil’s America Grills! Copyright 2011.Used with permission from Char-Broil and Creative Homeowner. All Rights Reserved.

"A harvest crisp laden with apples, oranges and cranberries that you can assemble ahead of time, then grill to perfection in a cast-iron skillet!"

Prep time: 30 minutes Grill time: 30 minutes Serves: 8 to 10


1 pound cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

3 tablespoons orange peel, grated

1/4 cup water

5 pounds apples (combination of Granny Smith, Honey Crisp or other firm baking apple), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup raisins

3 tablespoons instant tapioca

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice



3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled

3/4 cup old-fashioned oats

Simmer cranberries, 3/4 cups of the sugar, grated orange peel and water in an ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. When the mixture has a jam-like consistency, remove to a bowl.

Add apple slices, remaining sugar and raisins to the pot to cook. When the apples have softened, about 5 to 10 minutes, combine them in the bowl with the cranberries. Blend in remaining filling ingredients.

Topping: In a food processor, blend flour, sugars, cinnamon and butter. Remove to a medium-size bowl. Pour oats into the food processor and pulse until they are the texture of coarse crumbs. Combine with the flour mixture and using your fingers, pinch the topping to make peanut-size clumps. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Pour filling into a greased cast-iron skillet; scatter topping over it.

Bake over indirect heat, hood closed, for about 30 minutes. (Rotate the pan after 5 minutes for even baking.) The crisp is done when the juices are bubbling and the topping is brown. Serve hot with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  


Skillet Brownies with Dandies Marshmallows

courtesy of Chelsie Jangord, in-house chef at Dandies Marshmallows

"Fact: Things just taste better when cooked in an old cast iron skillet. Another Fact: So here I am, telling you once again to light that grill up, this time so we can make some brownies! To simplify this recipe I used Julie’s Original Fudge Brownie Mix, which is super allergy friendly. The brownies are topped with a layer of toasted Dandies Marshmallows to send things over the edge."

Serves 8


1 10-ounce bag of Dandies Marshmallows

1 box Julie’s Original Fudge Brownie Mix, or your favorite brownie mix

2/3 cup non-dairy milk

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

Set up the grill for indirect cooking, and preheat it to medium. Spray a cast iron skillet with a non-stick spray.

Beat together brownie mix and nondairy milk, coconut oil and vanilla, until batter is formed. Spread batter evenly in the cast iron skillet.

Cover with marshmallows. Make a dome out of foil and cover the skillet. Make sure the dome leaves enough space for the marshmallows to expand without getting stuck to the roof.

Place the cast iron skillet on the grill and cover with the lid. Let cook for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Using a pot holder, remove the skillet from the grill and let cool. Enjoy!

Note:  Best when slightly undercooked so the brownies are still really fudgy and perfect for scooping up with some graham crackers.

Heavenly Hash cake

Recipe from The University of Alabama® Cookbook by Browne Mercer, used with permission.

"A brownie base with pecans, topped with marshmallows and chocolate fudge icing!"

Serves: 12


4 eggs, slightly beaten

2 cups sugar

2 sticks butter, melted

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup self-rising flour

2 cups pecan pieces

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 bag mini marshmallows



1 box (16 oz.) powdered sugar

4 tablespoons butter, melted

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar together; add butter. Mix in cocoa powder and flour. Fold in pecans and add vanilla. 

Bake in greased 9 x 13-inch pan for 40 minutes. Sprinkle marshmallows on top of hot cake when it comes out of the oven. 

Topping: Combine powdered sugar, butter, cocoa and cream in a large bowl; pour over marshmallows. Let cool before cutting into bars.

Smoked Bacon-Bourbon Apple Crisp

Courtesy of Matthew Benson
Excerpted from PROJECT SMOKE: Seven Steps to Smoked Food Nirvana, Plus 100 Irresistible Recipes From Classic (Slam-Dunk Brisket) to Adventurous (Smoked Bacon-Bourbon Apple Crisp), by Steven Raichlen. Photo credit: Matthew Benson

"For years, I’ve been smoke-roasting blueberry and raspberry crumbles. I even smoked a crumble made with cactus pears on my Primal Grill TV show taped in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Here’s the smoked version of an American classic—apple pie—and it was inspired by a restaurant in my summer stomping grounds, the Outermost Inn on Martha’s Vineyard. “I think apple pie should step on the dark side,” says its one-time chef and the recipe’s creator, Michael Winkelman. “Give me bacon. Give me whiskey. Give me smoke. Give me a dessert that means business.” I give you Winkelman’s smoked apple crisp."

Method: Smoke-roasting Prep time: 30 minutes Smoking time: 45 minutes to 1 hour Serves 8


For the filling
2 strips artisanal bacon, like Nueske’s or the Made-from-Scratch Bacon on page 113, cut crosswise into ¼-inch slivers
3 pounds crisp, sweet apples like Honeycrisps or Galas
1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons bourbon


For the topping
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and placed in the freezer until icy cold
1/2 cup crushed gingersnap cookies or granola
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
Smoked Ice Cream (page 240; use vanilla) or regular vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

  1. Set up your grill for indirect grilling (see page 262) and preheat to 400°F.
  2. Make the filling: Fry the bacon in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring with a slotted spoon, until crisp and golden brown, 4 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a large bowl. Pour off and reserve the bacon fat for another use. Don’t wipe out or wash the skillet.
  3. Peel and core the apples and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Add them to the bacon. Stir in the sugar, flour, lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the bourbon. Taste the mixture for sweetness, adding sugar as needed. Spoon the filling into the skillet.
  4. Make the topping: Place the butter, cookie crumbs, flour, white and brown sugars, and salt in a food processor. Grind to a coarse mixture, running the processor in short bursts. Don’t overprocess; the mixture should remain loose and crumbly like sand. Sprinkle the topping over the apples.
  5. Place the crisp on the grill or smoker rack away from the heat. Add the wood to the coals and cover the grill. Smoke-roast the crisp until the topping is browned and bubbling, the apples are soft (they should be easy to pierce with a skewer), and the filling is thick, 45 minutes to 1 hour. 
  6. Serve the crisp hot off the grill or smoker. Extra points for topping it with Smoked Ice Cream. 

Jumble Cookies

Recipe courtesy of Zov Karamardian, from Simply ZOV: Rustic Classics with a Mediterranean Twist,; Photograph courtesy of Pornchai Mittongtare

"Jumble cookies are filled with goodies such as nuts, chocolate and raisins. Courtesy of Zov Karamardian’s famous Tustin Bakery & Café located in Tustin, California."

Makes: 20 cookies


1 3/4 cups whole almonds

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 oz. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cups (packed) golden brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 12-oz. package Hershey’s dark chocolate chips

2 cups raisins

Parchment paper or nonstick vegetable-oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place almonds and pecans on a heavy, large baking sheet and bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 11 minutes, stirring halfway through. Cool completely. Coarsely chop almonds and pecans, then set aside. 

Stir flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Using a mixer, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar in a mixing bowl until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. On low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating just until incorporated (do not over mix or the cookies will be tough). Mix in chocolate chips, raisins and then lastly, the chopped nuts. 

Line four large baking sheets with parchment or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Using ½ cup of dough for each cookie, space evenly forming 5 mounds on each sheet. With the palm of your hand, lightly press on the dough to flatten. Bake cookies until golden brown and the very center is still pale golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. 

Do ahead tip: The dough freezes well (up to 7 days before baking). The cookies are fantastic for shipping. Tightly sealed cookies keep for up to 3 days. 

Zov’s kitchen note: Measure nuts whole before toasting. It’s easier to chop toasted nuts. Dried cherries or dried cranberries can stand in for the raisins. A 4-ounce ice cream scoop makes mounding the dough onto the baking sheet quick and easy.

Tailgater Magazine