Divine Dinner Party

Holiday Dessert Recipes and Ideas for Great Desserts

The holiday dessert recipes on this page are the perfect ending to a Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. They can be made up ahead of time, letting you focus on your main meal (and, if you have time, your guests). They're also rich, elegant, and impressive. Perfect for the holidays!

Among the holiday dessert recipes below, you'll find:

  • Maple Walnut Tartlets
  • Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate Pecan Pie
  • Gooey Apple-Walnut Upside-Down Cake

Don't find what you're looking for here? We also have a whole page full of pumpkin pie recipes, and plenty of great ideas for festive desserts. Some more great (and very popular) holiday dessert recipes are:

  • Fresh Fruit (Refreshing!) and Nut Tray
  • Caramel Apple Pie
  • Lemon Pie
  • Cherry Pie
  • Cranberry Walnut Tart
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  • Mince Pie
  • French Silk or Chocolate Velvet Pie (Easy!)
  • Carrot Cake
  • Coconut Pound Cake
  • Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Dulce de Leche Espresso Cheesecake

You can also find lots of great ideas for easy holiday desserts here!

Nutty Maple Walnut Tartlets Recipe

Maple Tarts Christmas Desserts RecipeCute, elegant, and easy to eat, tartlets make great holiday dessert recipes. This recipe uses real maple syrup and walnuts, giving it a rich flavor that just screams Thanksgiving or Christmas. Just as with pecan pie, the chopped walnuts rise to the top of the tarts, giving these little holiday tartlets a pretty finish.

Recipe makes 12 3-inch tarts, and uses pre-made tart shells... though you can make your own, of course!


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Ingredients:
12 (3 inch) unbaked tart shells
3 lg. eggs
1 C. real maple syrup
1/2 C. brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 C. walnuts, coarsely chopped

Instructions: 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, maple syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla, and lemon. Mix just until blended.

3. Sprinkle walnuts into unbaked, prepared tart shells, dividing evenly.

4. Pour filling mixture over walnuts, dividing filling evenly.

5. Bake tarts for 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is set.

6. Let cool before serving these cute little holiday dessert recipes.


Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake Thanksgiving Desserts IdeasThis recipe comes for Gourmet Magazine, and is a legend in my house. Sure, everyone in my family loves pumpkin pie. But left alone in a room with five regular pumpkin pies and one of this cheesecake, we'd probably fight to the death for the cheesecake. My family's funny that way.

This is one of the best holiday dessert recipes you'll ever try, and is a wonderful balance of super-sweet crust, creamy filling, and tangy Bailey's topping. Garnish the cake with pecan halves (as pictured) and you have a perfect cheesecake. If your family is anything like mine, this will become one of your favorite holiday dessert recipes. We prefer bourbon in the cake mixture and Bailey's in the topping, but you can make it any way you like, or leave the booze out completely.

One cheesecake feeds 12 to 14 people. You can make it up a couple days in advance and keep it covered in the fridge-- which is really nice if you're on the lookout for make ahead holiday dessert recipes.

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Ingredients:

Crust:
3/4 C. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 C. finely chopped pecans
1/4 C. brown sugar, packed
1/4 C. white sugar
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, allowed to cool

Filling:
1 1/2 C. canned pumpkin puree
3 lg. eggs
1/2 C. brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. Bailey's Irish Cream or bourbon
1/2 C. white sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
3 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened

Topping:
2 C. sour cream
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. Bailey's Irish Cream or bourbon

Garnish:
1 C. pecan halves

Instructions: 1. First, prepare the crust. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

2. In a small mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, pecans, brown and white sugar, and melted butter. Stir with fork.

3. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of your springform pan, allowing crumbs to go about half and inch up the sides of the pan.

4. Chill crust for an hour to set.

5. Next, prepare cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

6. In a medium mixing bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, cream, and Bailey's or bourbon.

7. In seperate large mixing bowl, combine white sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Mix.

8. Add softened cream cheese to dry ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

9. Spoon in pumpkin mixture. Mix until smooth and well combined, but don't over mix.

10. Pour cream cheese filling into your prepared, chilled crust.

11. Place your cheesecake pan in the oven, inside a larger pan. Fill outer pan with hot water to create a water bath that will keep cake moist.

12. Bake cake 50 to 60 minutes, just until the center is set.

13. Prepare sour cream topping: In a medium mixing bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, and Bailey's or bourbon.

14. When cheesecake has finished baking, let it cool for five minutes, then spread the sour cream topping over.

15. Return cheesecake to the oven and bake 5 additional minutes.

16. Cool cake completely on a wire rack (in the pan).

17. Cover and refrigerate until completely set, 4 hours or more (better overnight).

18. Remove sides of pan, garnish with pecan halves, and serve.


Ghirardelli Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe

Chocolate Pecan Pie Christmas Dessert RecipePecan pie is one of those classic holiday dessert recipes that just can't go wrong. Especially when you add a whole load of chocolate. This wonderful holiday pie will convince both pecan pie haters and lovers alike-- it's just perfect. Serve it with a dollop or whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, and get ready to experience a little slice of heaven. Or, if you're like me, a too-big one.

One pie serves about 8. But be careful! This is one of the richer holiday dessert recipes you'll add to your Christmas or Thanksgiving dessert table.

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Ingredients:
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 C. light corn syrup
1/2 C. golden brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 1/2 C. pecan halves
1 (9-inch) piecrust, unbaked

Instructions: 1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Combine chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave, stirring occasionally, just until melted.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Blend well using a wire whisk or electric mixer.

4. Blend in chocolate-butter mixture.

5. With a wooden spoon, stir in pecans.

6. Pour batter into your prepared pie crust. Bake about 55 minutes, or until the filling is set.

7. Cool completely before serving.


Apple Walnut Upside-Down Cake Recipe

Apple Walnut Upside Down Cake for Thanksgiving Dessert IdeasThe topping for this dense, rich cake calls for tangy Granny Smith apples to cut some of the sweetness. But you can sub Golden Delicious if you prefer a sweeter apple. Both are terrific! The final presentation is rustic and impressive-- you just want to dive right in. It's best served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, but this holiday apple cake is also delicious served at room temperature with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

This is one of those holiday dessert recipes that will have your guests clamoring for more. If you don't love ginger, you might want to cut the amount down a bit. I love the gingery bite of this apple cake recipe, but it's definitely noticeable.

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Ingredients:

Topping:
1 1/2 lbs. Granny Smith apples (about 3 to 3 1/2 apples)
1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 C. sugar
1/2 C. coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tbsp. apple brandy or brandy, optional

Batter:
1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped fine
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C. (1 stick), unsalted butter, softened
2/3 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated (can sub 2 tsp. powdered)
2 lg. eggs
1/2 C. sour cream

Instructions: 1. Peel apples. Core and cut apples into thick slices.

2. In a 10-inch cast iron or non-stick skillet, melt butter just until melted. Stir in sugar until beginning to dissolve.

3. Arrange apple slices in bottom of skillet. Sprinkle walnuts in the spaces between the apples. Pour brandy over, if using.

4. Cook apple mixture over medium-low heat without stirring or moving, for about 30 minutes. Apples should be tender and cooked through, and the sauce should be golden.

5. For cake batter, preheat oven to 375 degrees F, and combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small mixing bowl.

6. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat with electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and ginger.

7. One at a time, add eggs to butter mixture. Beat well after each addition. Beat in sour cream.

8. Slowly beat in flour mixture. Stir in chopped apple.

9. With the skillet off the heat, pour your cake batter carefully over your apple topping.

10. Place a jelly roll pan or baking sheet in the oven. Place skillet in oven on top of baking sheet.

11. Bake cake 25 to 35 minutes, til golden brown. When a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (with a few crumbs), cake is cooked.

12. Cool cake in the skillet on wire rack for 10 minutes.

13. Use a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen. Carefully invert onto your serving plate.

14. Watch your guests moan with pleasure at every bite of this wonderful holiday dessert recipe.

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