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35 Make-Ahead Christmas Desserts for Busy Bakers

The holiday season gets a little less hectic with these make-ahead sweets.

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Chocolate-Strawberry Pretzel Cookies

Every year I come up with a new recipe, and this is one that's been requested over and over. Who would ever guess how good pretzels are in cookies? —Isabel Minunni, Poughkeepsie, New York
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Eggnog Cake

This impressive layered eggnog cake, perfect for holiday parties, will make you wish eggnog wasn’t a seasonal ingredient. —Debra Frappolli, Wayne, New Jersey
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Spiced Pecans

These spiced pecans are a treat enjoyed by people of all ages. They are nice to have on hand during the Christmas season to serve as an appetizer, add to a cookie plate or give as gifts packaged in decorated jars or containers! I love making foods that will delight my family or guests. —Brenda Schneider, Armington, Illinois
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Chocolate Yule Log Recipe

For many years, this impressive chocolate Yule log recipe has been a favorite Christmas dessert for our family— everyone just loves it! Plus, I’m always asked to bring the rich chocolaty treat to our annual church Christmas function.
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Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

I created this creamy cheesecake using two of my favorites—caramel and pecans. It is a stunning cake and rivals any I've tasted. —Deidre Sizer, Cedarville, Ohio
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Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Everyone gets a kick out of this fun take on the popular red velvet cake. Take a shortcut and use packaged cream cheese frosting for the filling. —Judi Dexheimer, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
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Chocolate Gingerbread Yule Log

If you’ve tasted a yule log sponge cake, you’ll love this version with fresh ginger and spices. The holiday stunner can be made ahead. —Lauren Knoelke, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Apple Stack Cake

My mom loved to bake this sky-high apple stack cake. Layer the apple goodness two days before serving. Later, a dusting of confectioners' sugar is the only topping you'll need. —LeVa Clement, Jackson, Missouri
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Chocolate Mincemeat Bars

What would the holidays be without mincemeat for dessert? Even people who say they don’t care for the taste will be surprised to find they love these tender chocolate bars. —Darlene Berndt, South Bend, Indiana
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Sugar Cream Pie

I absolutely love Indiana sugar cream pie; especially the one that my grandma made for me. Here, we serve it warm or chilled and call it "Hoosier" sugar cream pie. —Laura Kipper, Westfield, Indiana
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Chocolate Angel Cake

When I was married in 1944, I could barely boil water. My dear mother-in-law taught me her specialty—making the lightest angel food cakes ever. This chocolate version is an easy, impressive treat. —Joyce Shiffler, Colorado Springs, Colorado
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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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Caramel-Pecan Cheesecake Pie

In fall or any time of year, this nutty, rich and delicious pecan pie recipe is one I am proud to serve. While it seems very special, this caramel pecan cheesecake is a snap to make. —Becky Ruff, Monona, Iowa
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Spiced Rum Fruitcake

This fruitcake not only can be made weeks ahead, it tastes better that way! You can substitute Brazil nuts, pecans and hazelnuts for the walnuts—or use a combination of nuts. —Jason Boor, Manchester, New York
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Frosted Eggnog Cutout Cookies

My husband loves the creamy richness of eggnog, so I add it to the dough and buttercream icing in these cookies. Top each one with a sprinkle of nutmeg. —Joan Sarge, Asheville, North Carolina
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Toffee Angel Food Cake

Chopped toffee bits and whipped cream make the sweet flavor and light, moist texture of angel food even more indulgent. For best results, refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before serving. —Collette Gaugler, Fogelsville, Pennsylvania
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Cranberry Cheese Crumb Pie

My mind works overtime to plan treats that surprise the family. They give this cranberry pie a “wow” and invite friends over to share it. —Lorraine Caland, Shuniah, Ontario
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Frozen Mocha Torte

For an easy, make-ahead dessert that's elegant and luscious, try this recipe. The perfect blend of mocha and chocolate is in each cool, refreshing slice. —Aelita Kivirist, Glenview, Illinois
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Easy Oatmeal Cream Pies

These easy cookies use only five ingredients and taste very similar to a store-bought cookie. Of course, everything's better from your own kitchen! —Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado
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Chocolate Peppermint Log

What a great make-ahead treat! This cake log is perfect for the holidays because you can make it when you have time, store it in the freezer and scratch dessert off of your to-do list. —Brenda Sinclair, Princeton, Missouri
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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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Apple Butter Cake Roll

This is a new take on a pumpkin roll. Her spicy gingerbread cake might make you think back fondly to Christmas at Grandma's! —Debbie White, Williamson, West Virginia
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Cherry Christmas Slices

Brilliant red and green candied cherries add extra sparkle to these delicious holiday delights. What I really like best is that this recipe's easy to mix up ahead of time. In fact, I've often made the dough in November and kept it in the freezer until I needed it in December! —Katie Koziolek, Hartland, Minnesota
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Maple Walnut Cake

This maple-flavored cake with candied walnuts honors beloved my grandpa, who made maple syrup when I was a child. It honors his memory and has proven to be a favorite with family and friends throughout the years. —Lori Fee, Middlesex, New York
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Red Velvet Cake Bites

Everyone loves red velvet, but any cake mix can work here. I've even rolled chopped macadamia nuts into pineapple cake and dipped them into white chocolate. Whatever you do, have fun! —Anne Powers, Munford, Alabama
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Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Bars

If you're looking for something other than pumpkin, these sweet potato bars are a yummy alternative. Make them ahead—they're even better refrigerated overnight. —Debbie Glasscock, Conway, Arkansas
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Spumoni Baked Alaska

For a refreshing end to a rich meal, try this freezer finale. Its intriguing interior and pretty color scheme are bound to garner oohs and aahs. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Fruitcake Christmas Cookies

As holiday gifts, these rich fruit-and nut-filled cookies are pretty and practical. These are great make ahead Christmas cookies —the taste actually gets better over time! —Julia Funkhouser, Carson, Iowa
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Special Chocolate Treats

I serve these lovely cookies to guests. They freeze well. —Walter Max, Wabasha, Minnesota
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Decadent Chocolate Crepe Cake

No other dessert has wowed family and friends the way this stunning crepe cake did the first time I made it. A showstopper in every sense of the word, it features layers of tender chocolate crepes and rich white chocolate buttercream frosting draped in a semisweet chocolate ganache. —Tina Sawchuk, Ardmore, Alberta
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Cranberry-Orange Crumb Tart

After my sister took the family to the local cranberry festival, my mom bet me that I couldn't make a holiday pie out of cranberries and oranges. Considering the pie was gone before the holidays arrived, I think I won! —Heather Cunningham, Whitman, Massachusetts
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Cherry Almond Snowdrops

As soon as I was old enough, I helped make these distinctive almond cookies. You can freeze the dough, so they’re perfect for the busy holidays. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
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Coastal Coconut Cream Cake

This is my son's county fair cake. He was awarded a top-10 prize, and he auctioned the coconut cream cake for big bucks! —Amy Freeze, Avon Park, Florida
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Cranberry Orange Sandwich Cookies

My sweet-tart cookies make a terrific addition to a holiday dessert tray. I love the creamy orange filling.—Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
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Caramel Peanut Fantasy

Packed with peanuts and gooey with caramel, this do-ahead treat is one sweet dream of a dessert to serve company. With an easy cookie crust and scrumptious candy bar layers, it goes together quickly—and will disappear just as fast! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Annamarie Higley
Annamarie Higley is an Associate Print Editor for Taste of Home magazine, as well as the brand's special issue publications. A midwestern transplant originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she enjoys hiking, trivia-ing, and—you guessed it!—all things cooking and baking.