The holidays are a time for gathering with loved ones. For celebrating the magic of the season. For eating until you have to unbutton your pants.

In the spirit of suspended diets everywhere, we present the best holiday treats. Get ready to preheat that oven and fill your belly!


Christmas is not the same without cookies. Everything from traditional sugar cookies to bar cookies to gingerbread cookies is going to be showing up on your doorstep and your friends’ buffet tables this season. So for your contribution, why not take it up a notch?

We’ll take your regular old thumbprint cookie and raise you a smudge of Nutella and a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkle of sea salt with these holiday wonders. These dulce de leche and nutella thumbprints with sea salt were called “swear-worthy” cookies, and, well, D$@x*& it’s good.

Not a fruitcake

You could make a fruitcake and endure that look pained look on the face of the recipient. Or, you could make Epicurious’ “classic confection” of toffee squares, which get some festive flair by adding chopped dried cranberries or cherries. It’s a newfangled, and much more tasty, version of fruitcake. Extra points if you can make it to your gathering without taking a nibble.


Traditional chocolate cake? Not at Christmas time. This peppermint chocolate cake adds a whole bunch of cream cheese and a healthy shot of peppermint flavor. Using candy canes and meringues (see recipe here) means you can get the kids involved in the decoration after the cake is done.


Breaking bread with friends and family may be a holiday tradition, but so is baking bread. And what’s more festive than mini gingerbreads. They’ll fill your home with the aroma of Christmas while cooking. And even better—they’re easy to make.

Everything else

Didn’t think you’d be using agave syrup, pumpkin seeds and cayenne pepper in one of your deserts? From now on, you’ll make sure you have them in the house every year. Make this pumpkin seed brittle with vanilla bean and cayenne pepper and your friends will be begging for the recipe.

Really, doesn’t the name hot cocoa affogato with peppermint ice cream say it all? This homemade cocoa-coffee goodness may be incredibly rich and and topped with ice cream and blended into impossible tastiness, but technically it’s a drink. So technically you can still have desert too.

Red velvet cake is sooooo pre-fall. For a red velvet desert that’s holiday worthy, you have to go all the way to soufflé. A red velvet soufflé with whipped sour cream, to be exact.

Have any more must-have holiday deserts? Share with us in the comments!