8 Go-to Holiday Desserts from Cookbook Authors and Chefs

December 18, 2015

A crowd-pleasing apple cranberry strudel that says holidays. Chewy, soft chai snickerdoodles for your cookie swaps. A decadent crème brulee updated with maple syrup. There’s something for every sweet tooth on this list of holiday desserts.

apple cranberry strudel
Photo: Ryan Benyi for Edible Columbus

Apple Cranberry Strudel
“Strudel is one of those desserts that relies on sound technique. Once you master the stretching of the dough, you unlock the treasures this classic pastry holds. You are only limited by your imagination when developing filling recipes to roll in the delicate paper-thin pastry. Sweet or savory, strudel is always a crowd pleaser.” – Joshua Wickham, executive chef at Rocky Fork Hunt & Country Club in Columbus, Ohio


malva pudding
Brent Harrewyn for Edible Green Mountains

Malva Pudding
“Rich and satisfying, one should not let the holidays go by without enjoying Malva Pudding. Don’t forget to top with fresh whipped cream from a local dairy.” – Jozef and Pam Harrewyn, Chef’s Corner in Williston and Burlington, Vermont


creme brulee
Photo: Michael Piazza Photography

Crème Brûlée
“Creme brulee never goes out of style, and when folks try this maple version they have a whole new appreciation for this classic. The maple adds such a sweet grace note, and guests are always surprised by the unique flavor dimension the maple brings.” –Ken Haedrich, Maple Syrup Cookbook


Chewy Chai Snickerdoodles
Photo: Adrianna Adarme

Chewy Chai Snickerdoodles
“The chewy, softness of each [snickerdoodle] cookie is made even better by the warm chai spices. They’re the perfect thing to cozy up to by the fire.” – Adrianna Adarme, The Year of Cozy


layered fruitcake with rum
Photo: Kathryn Brass-Piper for Edible Sarasota
Layered Fruitcake with Rum Buttercream 
“Fruitcake has a bad reputation. It’s at the top of the list of most dreaded holiday receivables … The most offensive varieties feature glacé fruit, which has been saturated in syrup to the point that it no longer resembles fruit in taste or texture. No wonder no one wants to eat it…It’s time for a fruitcake makeover. This updated tropical version includes traditional components like dried pineapple, cloves, pecans, and booze (say hello to Rum Buttercream!), but it’s lighter, fresher, and a crowd pleaser.” – Charlotte Abrams, The Naked South


mini pecan tarts
Photo: John Kernick

Mini Pecan Tarts
“Anyone enamored of pecan pie will love these elegant little tarts. With each bite you have it all–creamy filling, crunchy nuts, and flaky crust."—Corky, Lori, Dana and Tracy Pollan, The Pollan Family Table 


White Chocolate Pound Cake with Candied Grapefruit and Grapefruit Caramel
Photo: Jennifer Blume

White Chocolate Pound Cake with Candied Grapefruit and Grapefruit Caramel 
“If I’m whipping up a dessert for the holidays, it’s going to be this pound cake. It’s a simple but elegant cake that plays on the contrast between citrus and chocolate. It’s also a fantastic way to end your meal on a really bright note.” -Stacy Cogswell, The New, New England Cookbook


Crispy Orange-Flavored Alentejo Pastries
Photo: Ted Axelrod

Crispy Orange-Flavored Alentejo Pastries
"These traditional ribbon-like pastries from the Alentejo (Portugal), usually seen at Christmas and Carnival time, are delicately crisp, infused with orange and brandy, have just enough sweetness from a dusting of sugar and cinnamon and they are light enough to enjoy seconds. You can make them a few weeks ahead since they keep very well in tins.” -Ana Ortins, Authentic Portuguese Cooking