Wow-Factor Holiday Desserts

Triple-Chocolate Cake
Pie is mighty nice. In fact, pie is almost a statutory requirement during the holidays. But beyond pie are applause-worthy desserts that will delight guests with a sweet, elegant full-stop ending to a great meal. And these treats do so with a much lighter touch. Get ready to wow.

Triple-Chocolate Cake

For those who say it's not dessert if it's not chocolate: Creamy milk chocolate mousse is sandwiched between intensely chocolaty cake layers.


1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, divided
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Cooking spray
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
8 ounces cake flour (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup fat-free milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Dash of salt
4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 teaspoons butter
1/8 teaspoon instant espresso granules
Dash of salt
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1| Preheat oven to 350°.
2| To prepare cake, combine 1 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup cocoa. Add 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate; stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Coat 2 (8-inch) round metal cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust pans with remaining 1 tablespoon cocoa.
3| Place 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 1 minute. Add egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.
4| Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire racks. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks. Discard wax paper.
5| To prepare filling, combine 1/3 cup milk and the next 3 ingredients (through dash of salt) in a saucepan over medium-low heat; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add milk chocolate, stirring until smooth. Pour into bowl. Cover and chill. Uncover; fold in whipped topping.
6| To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and remaining ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Place 1 cake layer on a plate. Spread filling over cake, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Top with remaining layer. Drizzle glaze over top of cake, spreading it out over edges.

View Recipe: Triple-Chocolate Cake

Meringue-Topped Cranberry Curd Tart
Frozen Orange Tortes with Cranberry Compote

Our Frozen Orange Tortes with Compote feature a jeweled cranberry topping that cascades down a fluffy ice cream filling that's a dreamy citrus cloud.

View Recipe: Frozen Orange Tortes with Cranberry Compote

See More: Holiday Desserts

Maple-Gingerbread Pots de Crème
Maple-Gingerbread Pots de Crème

The crackly counterpoint to the silky custards occurs when you sprinkle a thin layer of sugar on top and broil to melt. The caramel hardens as it cools.

View Recipe: Maple-Gingerbread Pots de Crème

Pumpkin-Almond Cheesecake
Pumpkin-Almond Cheesecake

A deliciously dense almond cake rests underneath the cheesy spiced pumpkin layer. Almond brittle adds a spectacular finishing touch.

View Recipe: Pumpkin-Almond Cheesecake

See More: Holiday Reader Favorites

Caramel-Pecan Dacquoise
Caramel-Pecan Dacquoise

A perfect dessert dialectic: crunchy and creamy textures, sweet and bittersweet flavors.

View Recipe: Caramel-Pecan Dacquoise

Apple-Cinnamon Bundt Cake
Apple-Cinnamon Bundt Cake

A homey comfort classic made special with a dusting of sugar and a hidden filling of apples and nuts.

View Recipe: Apple-Cinnamon Bundt Cake

See More: 25 Fruit Crumbles, Crisps, and Cobblers

Meringue-Topped Cranberry Curd Tart
Meringue-Topped Cranberry Curd Tart

This amazing tart is definitely a show stopper. Serve in a beautiful pie dish for a winning holiday dessert.

View Recipe: Meringue-Topped Cranberry Curd Tart

Double-Ginger Pumpkin Flans
Double-Ginger Pumpkin Flans

Unsweetened pumpkin and fresh ginger add a seasonal and unexpected twist on creamy classic flan (also known as crème caramel).

View Recipe: Double-Ginger Pumpkin Flans

See More: Holiday Treats with Health Benefits

Pumpkin Ice Cream Torte
Pumpkin Ice Cream Torte

Here's the secret: You can make this pumpkin torte well ahead and freeze it. The sauce is jarred. The cook will be celebrated.

View Recipe: Pumpkin Ice Cream Torte

Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting
Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting

This coconut cake recipe is one of our readers all-time favorites. The frosting also pairs wonderfully with other cake flavors like carrot, spice and basic white. Garnish the cake plate with sugar-frosted cranberries and rosemary sprigs.

View Recipe: Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Read the Rest: Wow-Factor Holiday Desserts

Don't Miss:
Holiday Kids' Treats

10 Timeless Holiday Cookies
Stock Your Holiday Pantry for $25