Pain-in-the-Ass Holiday Desserts That Are Worth the Hassle

Around the holidays, there’s always tons of hype about desserts. Did I say “hype?” I meant “perfectly accurate portrayal of relevance.” Admittedly, baking is pretty challenging, and during the holidays there’s so much competition: everyone is baking super cute, delicious desserts presented in adorable holiday-themed boxes with twine around them. How do you top that?

The secret, I’m afraid, is to also put in a lot of hard work. If you’re digging through tons of recipes trying to find the perfect balance between delicious and difficult, let me help. I’ve made a few Christmas-y desserts in my day, and some are arduous to no avail (but that’s a separate post for another day) but these are arduous and delicious, albeit requiring no real expertise, which is fortunate since I have none. Cookies, cupcakes, and pie- take your pick and get to work!

Spiced Cardamom cookies

Spiced Cardamom Cookies
By: Martha Stewart

These really are amazing. They’re a perfect mix of savory and sweet, they keep for ages, and they’re great with tea. The lovely Ms Stewart calls for a faux-bois mat (which will make a patterned impression on the dough), but that’s fucking ridiculous, so just use regular cookie cutters like a decent human being.

Photo courtesy of Hello Cupcake and Duncan Hines

 Christmas Ornament Cupcakes
By: Hello, Cupcake!

Out of all of the wonderful concoctions dreamed up by Hello, Cupcake, this was the most satisfying. The steps are easy, but the creative options make it a bit of a challenge:

  • Bake and frost a bunch of cupcakes. (Try this batter recipe if you haven’t yet!)
  • Buy sugar crystals in a variety of colors.
  • Buy a bunch of your favorite sweets, like Red Vines, M&Ms, Fruit By the Foot, etc. Make sure you get gumdrops and licorice for the top hangy part (as pictured).
  • Each cupcake is your palette. Go to town making cupcakes that look like Christmas tree ornaments. It’s laborious, time consuming, and at times frustrating, but DAMN you’ll love yourself after you’re done.

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
By: Martha Stewart

Sounds like a super weird combo of things, but it’s pretty great. It’s wowed everyone at numerous Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Don’t forget to drizzle the melted milk chocolate on at the end right before serving…or else it’s just double chocolate, and then you’ve let yourself, your parents, and the kids down.

So how about you? Do you have a particular love/hate relationship with a “goddamnit I hate making this but I can’t wait for everyone to like the product of my indentured kitchen servitude” recipe?

4 thoughts on “Pain-in-the-Ass Holiday Desserts That Are Worth the Hassle

  1. If only you’d been around for Nan Murray’s giant platters of 40 different kinds of Christmas cookies… weeks in the making.


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