Holiday Recipes

snowman cake

In my recent winter newsletter, I sent out a list of some of my favorite recipes that are great candidates for the holidays. Here I compiled more recipes from the site for sweets and treats that I hope will make your holidays a little happier.

Nibbles & Drinks

The Best Holiday Nut and Pretzel Mix: This it the best snack I know of to go with festive drinks. I can’t get enough of it. Make this for your next cocktail gathering!

Spritz: Want a holiday drink that’s lighter than a cocktail, and more festive? Try pouring a Spritz (or two) this year for guests.

Roasted Squash: Could this recipe be any easier? Oven-roasted slices of squash, which you can customize with different herbs and spices. Leftovers are great cubed and tossed in a salad of winter greens with toasted pecans and dried cranberries.

Sardine Pâté: Silky fish pâté is great spread on toasts with flutes of sparkling Champagne.

Apricot, Almond, and Lemon Bread: From Susan Loomis, serve thin slices of this savory ‘cake’ to guests. The cake can be made now (which you’re still sane) and freezes beautifully.

Salmon Rillettes: A wonderful spread for crackers and toasts, to kick off a celebration.

Gougères: Cheesey cream puffs rise to any occasion.

Sidecars: A splash of fresh lemon juice makes these a nice, bright beacon at any cocktail party or gathering.

Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine and Figs: A splash of red wine and soft figs contrast with tart cranberries for a new take on this holiday classic.

Sweets & Treats

Chocolate Idiot Cake: Everyone is super-stressed around the holidays but this cake is simple to make, and better yet, keeps for days in the refrigerator.

Chocolate-Cherry Fruitcake: This is one fruitcake that won’t get re-gifted…

Pumpkin Ice Cream: Folks love pumpkin ice cream alongside holiday desserts. Try putting scoops in cream puffs and dousing them with buttery caramel sauce spiked with cinnamon.

French Apple Cake: So easy, you can make Dorie Greenspan’s fantastic apple cake in minutes with just a few ingredients.

Chocolate-Covered Caramelized Matzoh Crunch: It’s not necessarily the season for unleavened bread, but this is a great treat, and little bags make nifty holiday stocking-stuffers. This is OMG good.

Quick Mincemeat: Didn’t have the time (or the gumption) to make traditional mincemeat this year? Add some of this to your favorite apple pie or crisp filling; the spices and candied peel will compliment the fruit beautifully. All the spices of traditional mince but without the fuss.

Nonfat Gingersnaps: These are so great, I had to include them in Ready for Dessert, my all-time favorite recipes. Moist and snappy, the added bonus is you don’t have to stress if you eat too many of them.

Candied Ginger: I like to keep a jar of this on hand during the winter because you can chop it up and add this bits of spicy ginger to anything from apple crisp to gingersnap dough. Dip slices in chocolate, chill, then serve as an after dinner candy.

Salted Butter Caramels: Buttery caramels flecked with sea salt.

Persimmon Bread: If you’re one of those people that has no idea what to do with persimmons, this recipe is for you. I hand out loaves in Paris around the holidays.

Candied Peanuts: I make these every year and have a hard time not eating the whole batch all by myself!

White Chocolate-Fresh Ginger Ice Cream: I made this for Thanksgiving this year because everyone loves fresh ginger paired with apple or pumpkin pie, and the smoothness of white chocolate balances the spicy ginger nicely.

Chocolate Pecan Pie: How to make pecan pie even better? Add chocolate!

Polenta Crisp Topping: A handful of polenta in the topping gives new meaning to the word “crisp”. Use with your favorite fruit filling.

Sugar-Crusted Popovers: As good as sugared doughnuts but with with just the best part—the crust! Terrific for a morning-after breakfast with cups of strong coffee.

Cinnamon Ice Cream: This ice cream is perfect with fall and winter desserts.

snowman cake

(The Gâteau Bonhomme de neige is from Dalloyau pastry shop in Paris.)


  • December 12, 2010 11:38am

    Thank you for compiling a list together! I may be a little daft, but I wasn’t able to find your recipe for the snowman pictured above, I’d love to get the Mr. to join me in making them.. they do look complicated, hope you wouldn’t mind sharing.

    = )

  • December 12, 2010 1:00pm

    Hi there David,

    On your “Chocolate Idiot Cake”. Is is possible that I cook it already in individual portion, in small ramekins for example. Will it change cooking time, and should I also wrap individual ramekin with foil while water-bathing it. Thanks a lot in advance.

  • December 12, 2010 1:10pm
    David Lebovitz

    Wina: Yes, if you bake it in a smaller sized vessel than indicated, then the baking time will need to be decreased. And you likely should cover them with foil but I have not baked them in that size but please feel free to experiment with the recipe!

  • December 12, 2010 2:22pm

    As both a pate, sardine and sparkling wine fan I am quite pleased with this suggestion of yours. Would have never thought to use them this way, thank goodness for you and Dorie! I have some skeptical sardine friends … but at the very least it sounds like a lovely way for me to spend a cold winter evening.

  • December 12, 2010 2:56pm

    There are 4 things on here I am looking forward to trying. I am also going to make your Chocolate Biscotti. I have been waiting for weeks for my my favorite French shop to stock some Valhrona chocolate!

    Thank you for the inspiration as usual.

  • December 12, 2010 3:13pm

    ok, am I the only one to notice how ridiculously adorable those snowmen are?
    cathy b. @ brightbakes
    P.S.With this post…holiday inspiration abounds…although I may or may not have already had my fair share of Christmas treats!

  • December 12, 2010 4:05pm

    Looking great Chef.

    Happy baking.


  • December 12, 2010 4:27pm

    Thinking about making your chocolate idiot cake for Christmas dinner, maybe with a clementine sorbet….thanks for the inspiration!

  • December 12, 2010 4:43pm

    It all sounds incredible…and although I’m normally one for sweets around the holidays, the roasted squash is calling my name right about now!

  • December 12, 2010 5:39pm

    The meringue snowmen are just too cute. Only in Paris! Great list, David.

  • Katie K
    December 12, 2010 6:39pm

    Thanks so much! I plan to make a bunch of these recipes.

  • December 12, 2010 6:57pm

    Those snowmen made me laugh out loud. Good recipe ideas!

  • December 12, 2010 7:10pm

    Thank you for the compilation of recipes. Just right for the holiday season. At least I have my choices.

  • Margaret
    December 13, 2010 1:13am

    aww — little meringue snowmen… thought you were going to give us the recipe for them — haha

  • Tanis
    December 13, 2010 2:32am

    Are the snowmen cake covered in meringue? I would like to make them.
    Love the rest of the post, can’t wait to try the sardine pate.

  • Janice
    December 13, 2010 3:00am

    Thanks for all your suggestions. I like the roasted squash and the French apple cake.

  • December 13, 2010 4:13am

    Of course, I’m going for the Idiot Chocolate Cake. Yes, the holidays are stressful enough! For fun, the persimmon bread, the silky pate, Dorie’s apple cake…no wonder I get stressed for the holidays. I love them all but you know – I, too am attracted to those pudgy snowmen. Even those there is a fresh, 20-inch snowfall outside my window. You’d think I’d have enough of the snow.

  • December 13, 2010 4:28am

    Hi David,

    Those cakes (or whatever) are so cute! What are they? BTW, thanks for the cookbooks review; they were great. I must also apologize, but I could not purchase the books I selected from your list through you, because I had discount coupons from Borders worth 40%/book. If you can get some credit for the fact that I purchased those books because I read your review, I could send you a proof purchase. The books are: Will Write for Food and Tartine Bread.

  • Cyndy
    December 13, 2010 4:52am

    Dalloyou… How do you find them from an attitude-towar- customer standpoint? We went in there once to buy a dessert and some macarons to take to a little French boy and his mom who invited us to dinner. The things in there were gorgeous, but their attitude was beyond snotty. And we were speaking French!

    The goodies were amazing, though.

  • December 13, 2010 5:12am

    These are awesome, just the thing for that last minute idea with all this silly season cooking & consuming of food. Thanks David.

  • Cecilia
    December 13, 2010 5:40am

    OK, now I must have a holiday party – because I can not make all this wonderful stuff and eat it myself.

  • Thea
    December 13, 2010 6:32am

    Gorsh all gee all gollee, what a wonderfully generous holiday gift you’ve presented your readers. Great recipes, of course. AND you’ve also inspired millions! Er, ahem.

    Love the hipster snowfolk. So cool, they’ll never melt.

    All best wishes to you in Paris, David. Don’t know why, but I think of you especially this time of year (why, yes, I find Paris in winter romantic) — and the Fourth of July. Appreciate your posts that time of year too. So you give hope with this post as I anticipate early summer. Virtue abounds.

  • Skippy
    December 13, 2010 9:07am

    I love the snowmen…

  • Jude
    December 13, 2010 12:33pm

    Thank you for your list and for sharing such a wonderful list of tastes and flavours.
    Love your blog and books.

  • December 13, 2010 1:19pm

    Huge fan of sardines!
    Those sugar coated popovers look to die for too!!
    Happy Holidays, stay warm :)

  • alexandra harris
    December 13, 2010 1:38pm

    Please give a thought to we Australians in the height of sweltering summer – the hallmark of the Southern Hemisphere Christmas is trying to stay cool.
    There’s no snow, so no snowmen. Suggestions anyone ? Christmas at the beach ?

  • Katarina
    December 13, 2010 2:42pm

    So how big are those snowman cakes? Do you think they baked them to darken the meringue or used a torch?

  • December 13, 2010 3:44pm

    you are so blessedly generous with your recipes! thank you so much. Incidentally, ordered and forward to one of your books coming in the mail any day now!

  • Christmas Sweets
    December 13, 2010 5:35pm

    I’m totally digging the roasted squash because I can basically put any leftover or any meat preference I have. Like if I feel like having chicken then I can just dump it in the recipe. :D I also like the idea of candied peanuts but mainly just for myself. Haha. I love candied walnuts particularly.

  • Elizabeth
    December 13, 2010 7:32pm

    You have a newsletter? What rock have I been under?

  • December 13, 2010 7:52pm

    Those candied peanuts look divine! There is a lady at my local farmers market that sells local candied hazelnuts, could you substitute another nut for the peanuts? I may have to add some cardamom, cause I am just completely addicted. Thanks for all the great recipes, but I was sad to see you didn’t include Giovanna’s maple creams, they are to die for! I love the picture, it is amazing how they can get a meringue to do that!

    • December 14, 2010 8:24am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve only made the candied peanut recipe with whole almonds, which work well. But if you do use another nut, I’d be interested in hearing how they turn out.

  • clare
    December 13, 2010 8:57pm


    I read your 10 tips for making caramel. My question is, can I use a Visions Pyrex pot (glass) to make the caramel in?

    • December 14, 2010 8:23am
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know what those glass pots are like so it’s best to call the company and get their advisement about what temperature their cookware will withstand.

  • elsie potts
    December 13, 2010 9:12pm

    Hi David: Your site is the very best of all. From your post of Lausanne, you
    encluded a picture of candied orange slices dipped in chocolate. Can you
    tell us how to make them. Merry Christmas and a divine New Year.

  • December 13, 2010 11:25pm

    Beautiful! Thanks for the inspiration. By the way I have made your Blue Ribbon Chocolate Cookies from your Chocolate Book and they are so amazing!!

  • December 14, 2010 12:04am

    Excellent bit of modeling, Great inspiration for other things. How about a penguin? You could use a chocolate doughnut for a base and build up from there.

  • December 14, 2010 3:37am

    A truly delicious list of goodies you’ve put together here!

  • December 14, 2010 4:57am

    I love all of your recipes. I was actually just looking for your caramel recipe.

  • December 14, 2010 1:04pm

    Hey David, love the candied ginger. I work in a restaurant making cocktails and this have given me a great idea for a new cocktail with the ginger as a garnish, thanks!

  • clare
    December 14, 2010 11:21pm

    Thanks David

  • Raelynn
    December 15, 2010 7:13pm

    Dear David,

    I was wondering, aside from the point about convenience, what is the difference between the caramel recipe that you have provided and caramelizing condensed milk? Is there an “ideal” color for caramels?

  • Kat
    December 16, 2010 6:27pm

    David, I am taking a French language class in the U.S. and our teacher was trying to describe a French Christmas dish, but she had trouble describing it in English. She says it involves a nut that is red when you shell it. You make a paste or spread with the nut and bake it in a pastry shell. Any idea what she could be describing? I’m intrigued!

  • December 16, 2010 6:37pm
    David Lebovitz

    Kat: it might be praliné, which are candied almonds that are bright red/pink? I’ve asked a few people why they color the almonds that way and no one has been able to explain it to me, but those might be what you’re talking about.

    Sam: Thanks! Glad you liked the cookies so much.

  • December 17, 2010 2:40am

    Love your chocolate idiot cake recipe!

  • susan
    December 17, 2010 8:37am

    Thank you for your list!! Starting my holiday baking tomorrow and I will start with the holiday nut and pretzel mix so I can have something to munch on in between the baking!

  • Madeleine
    December 20, 2010 1:53pm

    Thanks for the recipes! I was wondering if you know exactly what the French eat for Christmas? Back home in Norway we have certain meals that are traditional for Christmas Eve (the 24th) but I’ve always wondered what it is they eat in France (where I live), or if there are several meals to “choose from”? :)

  • Betsy Riter
    December 21, 2010 1:18pm

    I purchased your fine book on ice cream, and now I have to make a decision about what ice cream machine to buy. Comments on the one you own, David, on amazon talk about the plastic arm not being strong enough to keep down the ice cream. Apparently it rears up for some people and they have to weigh it down with heavy books. The DeLonghi apparenty has a flimsy plastic paddle that breaks. What’s a woman to do? What’s your take on this, David? Thanks so much for the informative and entertaining blog and twitter feed. I got up at 5:30 am today just so I would have some time to read it before tearing off t work. Betsy

  • NY Kate
    December 21, 2010 2:25pm

    I just made the nut and pretzel mix this morning – it is so good and so easy, thanks for the recipe!

  • December 21, 2010 3:14pm
    David Lebovitz

    NY Kate: Am glad you like the nut/pretzel mix. Am happy to share the recipe!

    Betsey: I’ve had mine for a couple of years and the arm only rises up when the ice cream gets really thick. But to be honest, it’s only happened to me a few times and hasn’t really been an issue. You can read more about ice cream machines at my post: Buying an Ice Cream Machine.

  • December 24, 2010 9:10pm

    Tell your publisher (for the next edition) that ‘Chocolate Idiot Cake’ is more than appropriate… I’m an idiot. I didn’t mess it up. And I can’t wait until tomorrow to serve it!

    A thousand thanks, David.

  • Snowmen are so cool
    December 24, 2010 10:03pm

    Dear David, I’m in love with your snowmen. Since we can’t buy them over here, could you describe what they are like so that I can try to replicate them in my kitchen? Wish you a happy New Year. :)

  • Betty
    December 24, 2010 10:21pm

    I didn’t make any of the above…yet. But, I do have, at this very moment, a French Apple Cake that I made my very own self with my very own hands. Probably the hardest part about making it was resisting the urge to put brown sugar, nutmeg and/or cinnamon all over it. I put Edith Piaff on the iPod to get myself en la mood and kept telling myself it’s “franche”. Of course, it’s not done baking and I haven’t gotten it out of the pan yet so…perhaps the baker will turn out to be unequal to the recipe after all. In which case I’ll just tell everyone it’s a French Apple Crumble Cake and take my bows.

  • Betty
    December 24, 2010 11:20pm

    I had meant to say thank you for the recipe previously. I was all into pretending I was french and forgot. That was ungracious of me, my apologies, and thank you.

    FYI…cake came out of the oven and it looks and smells fabulous! Is it a coincidence that all the best recipes have a stick of butter in them?

  • Tere Flores
    November 14, 2020 5:05am



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