Ten Showstopper Holiday Desserts (That Are Easier Than They Look!)

Trying to come up with a holiday dessert that looks like it took you all day, but didn’t? We’re here to help: below are some of our favorite holiday dessert showstoppers, all of which are either easy to make or can be made well in advance of your gathering. After all, you should enjoy the party, too!

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

With its swirls of Christmas-red cranberry puree, this cheesecake from Tish at Pastry at Home is the ideal holiday dessert. Because it has a high proportion of sour cream in it, the cake itself if light and ultra-creamy, making it a wise and delicious choice at the end of a big holiday meal. Tish uses chocolate graham crackers for the crust, but you can use plain or honey varieties, or even gingersnaps instead.

Gingerbread Roll Cake

This gingerbread cake roll, from Marsha of Marsha’s Baking Addiction is moist, fluffy and perfectly spiced with molasses, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. It also happens to be easy to make, which is a huge plus around the holidays. The filling is a thick layer of homemade spiced whipped cream, and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar makes a simple, pretty garnish.

English Christmas Trifle

This classic English holiday trifle comes from Cynthia of What a Girl Eats, and we love it from many reasons. First, it’s a showstopper that’ll elicit lots of oohs and ahhhs from your guests. Second, you can make it ahead (very important when you’ve got a million things on your list). Third, with layers of pound cake, crème anglaise, fresh fruit (raspberries and poached pears) and whipped cream, it’s as delicious as it is beautiful.

Eggnog Custard Tart

We adore most recipes that come from Edd Kimber (winner of Season 1 of The Great British Baking Show), and this one’s no exception. If you’re an eggnog lover, this custard tart, from Olive Magazine will make you swoon. Edd’s trick of using extra pastry dough to make stars for the top of the tart makes this dessert extra holiday-worthy.

Christmas Wreath Pavlova

This beautiful Christmas wreath pavlova was created by Eva of The Healthy Tart, who specializes in recipes for those with special dietary requirements, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegetarian and vegan. This particular recipe is gluten-free, and can either be made with or without refined sugar. Another plus is that the base can be made two days in advance, leaving you extra time to wrap those last-minute prezzies.

Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Impressive inside and outside thanks to a few piping techniques and some crushed candy, this chocolate peppermint cake from John of Preppy Kitchen is a stunner. Peppermint extract spikes both the simple American chocolate cake recipe and the silky white chocolate Italian meringue buttercream. Follow his piping instructions for a slice of swirly heaven.

Christmas Cream Puffs with Cran-Berry Compote

If you can make cream puffs, you can make little Santa hats! Thanks to Style Sweet, all you need is some extra tall piping skills. This recipe uses classic choux paste and vanilla pastry cream and then makes it more festive with a jeweled cranberry-raspberry compote inside. Impress your guests with just a little more work than usual.

Chocolate Chestnut Christmas Roll Cake

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… What better way to celebrate Christmas with a yule log cake with a classic holiday flavor? Lindsey from Love & Olive Oil simplifies the classic bûche de Noël design but amps up the flavor chestnut paste and a dash of amaretto liqueur. You can skip the faux woodgrain design to make it easier, but it’s the holidays. Give it a little oomph!

Winter Spice Raspberry Holiday Hand Pies

All you need is a few small cookie cutters and some warm spices, and you can make these tasty hand pies. Bake Love Give uses fresh raspberries, which are pretty decent all year round, and gives them a spicy twist of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Super Christmas-y! Want to make them even easier? Use refrigerated pie dough.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cake

A simple cranberry filling and an even simpler cranberry topping make a straightforward white chocolate cake more festive. From our own AnnMarie here at Pastry at Home, she adds a season twist on a cake that would taste just as good with raspberries any other time of the year. Just make sure to use the highest quality white chocolate you can and it will balance nicely with the tart fruit.

Pastry at Home is a hub for elevated dessert recipes for home bakers. Our editors Tish Boyle and AnnMarie Mattila strive to bring you the best curated content to help make you a smarter baker and dessert maker. If you want to be a part of our community, please contribute on the Submit a Recipe page. Or if you have another contribution idea or product you think we would like, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you!

Latest Recipes

More Like This