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42 Quick Desserts to Whip Up the Night Before Christmas

Gather your elves and roll up your sleeves. These fast Christmas desserts are perfect last-minute treats! Try our favorite recipes for cookies, cakes, bars and more.

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Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

I needed a new holiday cookie, so I tweaked an old 4-H recipe. This updated oatmeal cookie with cranberries and nuts is my family’s all-time favorite. —Tammy Hoggatt, Omaha, Nebraska
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Frozen Peppermint Delight

If you’re looking for a dessert that’s festive, delicious and easy to make, this is the one for you. Drizzled in hot fudge sauce and loaded with pretty peppermint pieces, this almost tempting treat will have guests asking for seconds. —Pam Lancaster, Willis, Virginia
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Chocolate-Covered Cherry Thumbprints

When I dig out my best cookie recipes, I'm reminded of baking with my children when they were little. These thumbprints with cherries elicit such sweet memories. –Deborah Puette, Lilburn, Georgia
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Mulled Wine Jelly Candies

I don’t drink alcohol, so after I’ve had company over for dinner, I have to do something with the leftover wine. These unusual jelly candies make a nice hostess gift during the holidays. I make the mulled red wine version for the winter holidays, and a white wine variation in spring and summer.—Jennifer Mack, Pensacola, Florida
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Mini Chocolate Wafer Cakes

I first made these cakes for a friend when I lived in the dorms at college and had no access to appliances. Little did I know I would be making them 20 years later for my children! —Lara Pennell, Mauldin, South Carolina
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Dark Chocolate Bourbon Balls

Remember the days at Grandma and Grandpa's house when you made these wonderfully traditional treats? We love these Kentucky Derby bourbon balls—the blended taste of bourbon and pecans is irresistible! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Monkey Bread

Time to give rum cake a little competition! If this boozy take on monkey bread is too strong for your taste, cut back on the bourbon or use milk as a non-alcoholic substitute. —James Schend, Taste of Home Deputy Editor
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Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

These yummy pecan bars start with a homemade pastry crust and pile on lots of semisweet chocolate. They’re perfect for a holiday bake sale or casual get-together.—Heather Biedler, Martinsburg, West Virginia
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Chocolate Caramel Kiss Cookies

I make this cookie every Christmas with my family. It’s a fun twist on a classic peanut butter blossom because of the cinnamon in the batter and the caramel kiss on top. We love the cinnamon-caramel combination, but you could switch out the kiss with a different festive flavor. —Kristen Heigl, Staten Island, New York
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Berries & Cream Trifles

Layers of cubed cake, berries and creamy ricotta mixture make pretty trifles that taste as rich as cheesecake. —Joan Duckworth, Lee's Summit, Missouri
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Browned Butter Cereal Bars

Crispy rice treats were one of the first recipes I ever made as a kid. For this version, I wanted to make something similar but more special. Friends and family think using Cap'n Crunch and browned butter is genius, but I just call them delicious.—Kelly Krauss, Lebanon, New Jersey
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Gingerbread Cookie Bites

I transformed store-bought cookie mix into mini tarts similar to gingerbread brownies. For garnish, try chopped crystalized ginger or a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. —Shenae Pulliam, Swansea, South Carolina
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Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake

My New York-style cheesecake has tart cranberries, white chocolate chunks and a smidge of yuletide red. It's an impressive addition to holiday dessert tables. —Angela Spengler, Tampa, Florida
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Sacher Torte

Guests will be surprised to hear that this Sacher torte recipe starts with a convenient cake mix. Each bite features chocolate, almonds and apricots. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Lemon Slice Sugar Cookies

These lemon slice cookies are a refreshing variation of my grandmother's sugar cookies. Lemon pudding mix and icing add a subtle tartness that tingles your taste buds. —Melissa Turkington, Camano Island, Washington
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Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding Torte

This recipe is a busy mom's twist on one of my favorite desserts—tiramisu. The dish is simple to assemble and perfect to make the day before you want to serve it. The hardest thing about this recipe is waiting for it to chill so you can eat it! —Cheryl Snavely, Hagerstown, Maryland
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Peppermint Meltaways

This recipe for peppermint meltaways is very pretty and festive-looking on a cookie platter. I often cover a plate of these peppermint cookies with red or green plastic wrap and a bright holiday bow in one corner. And yes, they really do melt in your mouth! —Denise Wheeler, Newaygo, Michigan
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Gumdrop Fudge

Making candy is one of my favorite things to do during the holidays. This sweet white fudge is as easy to put together as it is beautiful to serve. —Jennifer Short, Omaha, Nebraska
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Orange Cashew Bars

Two of my favorite ingredients, oranges and cashews, make a fantastic combination for a holiday bar—especially when you use fresh-squeezed orange juice in the glaze. —Anna Wood, Cullowhee, North Carolina
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Coconut Eggnog Pie

This easy recipe became a family favorite by happy accident. I was trying to use up extra eggnog and coconut from other holiday baking—and they are so good together. —Fay Moreland, Wichita Falls, TX
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Saltine Toffee Bark

These salty-sweet treasures make delightful gifts, and their flavor is simply irresistible. The bark is like brittle, but better. Get ready for a new family favorite! —Laura Cox, Brewster, Massachusetts
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Cranberry Layer Cake

I adapted a Bundt cake recipe to create this layer cake. Cranberries, walnuts and homemade frosting make it taste so delicious that you'd never guess it starts with a convenient cake mix. —Sandy Burkett, Galena, Ohio
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Nana's Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Frosting

Even though Nana is no longer with us, her treats bring me so much joy every time I bake them. For a more indulgent version, double the frosting and pile it on high! —Chekota Hunter, Cassville, Missouri
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Freezer Strawberry Shortbread Dessert

When I’m planning party menus, I appreciate dessert recipes like this; you can make and freeze it up to two weeks before serving. A refreshing slice is welcome after a big meal.—Cassie Alexander, Muncie, Indiana
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Pecan Caramel Candies

Salty and sweet, these candies are the perfect little snack. Form a kitchen assembly line with your kids, and the making becomes just as fun as the eating. —Julie Wemhoff, Angola, Indiana
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Sugar Cookies

This sugar cookie dates back to a Swedish woman born in 1877! Her daughter, Esther Davis, shared the recipe with me and she came up with all the exact measurements, since the original cookies were mixed by feel and taste. These are my favorite cookies and I hope they'll become yours as well. —Helen Wallis, Vancouver, Washington
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Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

I like using pretty mini muffin liners and topping these homemade peanut butter cups with colored sprinkles to coordinate with the holiday we're celebrating. People can't believe how simple it is to make this irresistible candy with gooey peanut butter centers. This is how to make homemade peanut butter cups. —LaVonne Hegland, St. Michael, Minnesota
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Spice Cookies with Pumpkin Dip

My husband and two kids are sure to eat the first dozen of these cookies, warm from the oven, before the next tray is even done. A co-worker gave me the recipe for the pumpkin dip, which everyone loves with the cookies. —Kelly McNeal, Derby, Kansas
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White Velvet Cutouts

We make and decorate these cutouts for different holidays and give lots of them as gifts. Last year, we baked a batch a week before Christmas to be sure we'd have plenty to give and plenty for ourselves, too. These rich cookies melt in your mouth. —Kim Hinkle, Wauseon, Ohio
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Heavenly Filled Strawberries

These luscious stuffed berries are the perfect bite-sized dessert. —Stephen Munro, Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia
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White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

As a dairy farmer’s wife, I have experience making cheesecake. In fact, most anything containing milk products is tasty in my book. If I’m out of cream cheese, it’s time to go to the grocery store! —Wendy Barkman, Breezewood, Pennsylvania
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Cranberry Pecan Pie

I first prepared this pie at Thanksgiving to share with my co-workers. It was such a success! Now I freeze cranberries while they are in season so that I can make it year-round. —Dawn Liet Hartman, Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania
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Easy Candied Fruit Cookies

Family and friends always want me to make these for Christmas, so I make lots of them. They're easy to handle and store and also make nice gifts. —Nan Bush, Morganton, North Carolina
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Lattice-Topped Pear Slab Pie

A lattice top serves as a charming frame for this special holiday dessert filled with fresh pears and candied fruit. Add a dollop of whipped cream if you like. —Johnna Johnson, Scottsdale, Arizona
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3D Chocolate Cheesecake

This dark chocolate cheesecake is deep and decadent, earning it the right to be called "3D." This version always looks its chocolatey best, because the ganache coating blankets any cracks you may experience. —Vanassa Hicks, Flint, Michigan
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Nanny's Fruitcake Cookies

My grandmother always made a holiday fruitcake. I turned her recipe into cookies that are perfect anytime, especially with a cup of tea. —Amanda Digges, South Windsor, Connecticut
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Layered Peppermint Icebox Cake

Our home economists take four ingredients and turn them into an impressive, no-bake cake. Do-ahead desserts don't get any better! —Taste Of Home Test Kitchen
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Sweet Orange Croissant Pudding

Time-crunched cooks are sure to appreciate the make-ahead convenience of this delightful dish. Feel free to replace the orange marmalade with any jam or jelly that suits your taste.—Mary L. Gabriel, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Butter Pecan Cheesecake

Fall always makes me yearn for this pecan cheesecake, but it’s delicious in any season. You’ll want to put it on your list of favorite holiday desserts. —Laura Sylvester, Mechanicsville, Virginia
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Walnut Horn Cookies

At our house, it wouldn't be Christmas without these Pennsylvania Dutch cookies, which are known locally as kiffels. —Sharon Allen, Allentown, Pennsylvania
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Caramel Fudge Cheesecake

It's hard to resist this chocolaty cheesecake with its fudgy crust, crunchy pecans and gooey layer of caramel. I combined several recipes to create this version that satisfies both the chocolate lovers and the cheesecake lovers in my family. —Brenda Ruse, Truro, Nova Scotia
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Tiramisu Cheesecake Dessert

Tiramisu didn't do it for me until I tried this recipe with its luscious layers of cheesecake. It's one of my favorite desserts to make this time of year. —Christie Nelson, Taylorville, Illinois

Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.

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