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101 Sweet Treats to Welcome Back Elf on the Shelf

He's baaaack! Celebrate the return of Santa's favorite helper with sweet surprises that get everyone excited for the fun in store.

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Elf Cookies

A sweet frosting glaze, colorful candies and well-placed almond slices turn these sugar cookie diamonds into a big batch of Santa’s helpers. TIP: Bake a batch of the adorable elves as a classroom treat or use a few to brighten each of your cookie trays. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Christmas Cutouts

Making and decorating these tender sugar cookies left a lasting impression on our four children. Adults now, they've all asked for my Christmas cutouts recipe so they can bake them with their own children. —Shirley Kidd, New London, Minnesota
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No-Bake Christmas Wreath Treats

Cornflakes take the place of traditional rice cereal in these sweet no-bake Christmas cookies from our Test Kitchen. Dressed up with green food coloring and red candies, they're a fun addition to cookie platters and dessert buffets. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Peanut Butter Christmas Mice

With their black licorice tails, candy noses and peanut ears, these chewy "mice" were always a hit at classroom parties. My children are in their teens now, but they still ask me to make these cookies for the holidays. —Nancy Rowse, Bella Vista, Arkansas
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Chocolate Reindeer Cookies

Add a touch of whimsy to your holiday spread with these chocolaty treats. They're perfect for getting little ones involved. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Peppermint Kisses

These are fun, refreshing and low in fat! —Lynn Bernstetter, Lake Elmo, Minnesota.
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White Christmas Cake

"Wow!" is the reaction from family and guests when they see and taste this lovely three-layer beauty. White chocolate, coconut and pecans make it so delicious. You can bake the cake layers in advance and freeze them. Then assemble and decorate the cake the day of the party. —Nancy Reichert, Thomasville, Georgia
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Caramel Pretzel Bites

I created this recipe wanting to make my own version of a pretzel log dipped in caramel, chocolate and nuts from a popular candy store. These are smothered with homemade caramel. —Michilene Klaver, Grand Rapids, Michigan
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Almond Raspberry Stars

The first Christmas that I baked these, I ended up quickly making a second batch! The whole family enjoyed them. —Darlene Weaver, Lebanon, Pennsylvania
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Peppermint Puff Pastry Sticks

I wanted to impress my husband's family with something you'd expect to find in a European bakery, and these chocolaty treats are what I came up with. The flaky pastry melts in your mouth. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Reindeer Track Cookies

I loved finding deer tracks in snow when I was a kid. One day I was looking at coffee beans, and I realized they look like little hoof prints. That's how I came up with this fun recipe.—Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado
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Peppermint Brownie Cups

These cookies look fancy, but the recipe is fairly easy. We love the brownie-style texture, loads of peppermint flavor and a hint of coffee. —Linda Bibbo, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
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Santa's Coming Cookie Puzzle

This clever confection s easy to make with store-bought cookie dough and is entirely edible to boot! Blanched almonds make it simple for little hands to grasp the puzzle Pieces, which are completely removable.—Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Dipped Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

You’ll love to give tins of these chocolate-coated cookies to your lucky friends. The shortcut holiday recipe is almost too simple to believe! Here's how to make peanut butter cookies without eggs. —Jackie Howell, Gordo, Alabama
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Holiday Snowflake Cake

The coconut sprinkled on this old-fashioned, fluffy white cake gives the impression of snow, without the cold. It's a beautiful dessert that is a fitting end to a delicious winter meal. It’s best to frost the cake just before serving as the frosting may soften over time. —Lynne Peterson, Salt Lake City, Utah
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Santa Star Cookies

Cookie baking can't get any more fun than when you are making—and decorating—these adorable Santa cookies. They are also really good to eat. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Yuletide Eggnog Cupcakes

If I want a creamier frosting on these, I add more eggnog. The nog lovers in your life won't complain! —Salina Moore, Woodward, Oklahoma
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Candy Cane Shortbread Bars

I created these bars for my daughter, who loves peppermint. The buttery shortbread texture just melts in your mouth. It’s a hit wherever I take it. —Susan Ciuffreda, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
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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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Gingerbread Sandwich Trees

Fun and festive, these cookie sandwich trees will be a huge hit with kids of all ages. They're a super-cute holiday treat! —Steve Foy, Kirkwood, Missouri
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Cherry Snowballs

A juicy maraschino cherry is the secret center tucked inside these special cookies. My mom was inspired to create this by a recipe she clipped out of a newspaper more than 30 years ago. —Evy Adams, West Seneca, New York
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Cream Cheese Spritz

A hint of orange and cinnamon highlights these Christmastime classics. I like to add colorful sprinkles before baking them. The recipe is from a booklet that came with a cookie press in the 1950s...and I still have the press! —Sarah Bedia, Lake Jackson, Texas
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Santa Cupcakes

My kids leave out at least one cupcake for Santa on Christmas Eve. These seemed appropriate! —Sharon Skildum, Maple Grove, Minnesota
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Triple-Chocolate Peppermint Treats

Santa is sure to stop by your house if you leave these minty chocolate cookies waiting for him. They're quick and easy for the whole family to make together. —Teresa Ralston, New Albany, Ohio
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Finnish Pinwheels

When my sister was hosting an exchange student from Finland, she served these cookies I'd made to her guest. The young lady instantly recognized what they were. So I know they're still being made in our ancestors' country. —Ilona Barron, Ontonagon, Michigan
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Cranberry-Orange Trifle

I make this showstopper for many occasions, slightly changing—or adding—ingredients. I sometimes add toasted coconut between the layers. —Raymonde Bourgeois, Swastika, Ontario
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Fudgy Mint Cookies

Chocolate lovers will get a double dose when they bite into this cakelike cookie. The cookies are especially popular served alongside a big scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream! —Renee Schwebach, Dumont, Minnesota
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Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

Our two boys linger around the kitchen when these homemade gingerbread cookies are baking. I make this gingerbread cookie recipe throughout the year using a variety of cookie cutters. —Christy Thelan, Kellogg, Iowa
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Peppermint Brownies

My grandmother encouraged me to enter these mint brownies in the county fair some years ago—and they earned top honors! They're a delicious treat to serve during the holidays. —Marcy Greenblatt, Redding, California
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Almond Cream Spritz

Love spritz cookies at Christmastime? Try this version featuring almond-flavored dough. Sprinkle them with colored sugar for the holidays or chopped almonds for everyday cookies. —Jo-Anne Cooper, Camrose, Alberta
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Easy Gingerbread Cutouts

"I rely on this tried-and-true recipe during the holidays," relates Sandy McKenzie of Braham, Minnesota. "The cream cheese frosting complements the cookies' gingery flavor and sets up nicely for easy packaging and stacking."
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Minty Wreaths

These keep in a tightly sealed container in the freezer for three weeks, so don't eat them all at once!—Samantha Hartzell, Washington, Illinois
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Coconut Dream Cupcakes

My daughter, Elizabeth, came up with this incredible recipe. The cream cheese in the middle is a fun surprise when someone takes their first bite. —Julie Flournoy, Laurelville, OH
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Nana's Rocky Road Fudge

We make rocky road-style fudge every Christmas, but why wait until the holidays for a recipe this good? —Ashley Berry, Montgomery Village, Maryland
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Swirled Peppermint Marshmallows

The fluffy, airy texture of handmade marshmallows will remind you of glistening snowflakes. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Holiday Almond Bars

Holiday Almond Bars

This fast, delicious dessert always makes an appearance during our Christmas celebrations.—Cheryl Newendorp, Pella, Iowa
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Marshmallow Pops

Making these pops is a fun activity for a children's party because any age can participate. Customize them for holidays or special occasions by rolling them in coordinating colored sprinkles. —Marcia Porch, Winter Park, Florida
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Candy Cane Souffle

I came up with this recipe by modifying one of my mom's gelatin-based desserts. The pretty pink sweet is a welcome sight on the table.—Joni Hilton, Rocklin, California
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Christmas Lights Cookies

What better way to brighten chilly winter days than with light-shaped cookies? My classic dough recipe has been a holiday tradition in our family for years. —Carolyn Moseley, Dayton, Ohio
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Mocha Yule Log

This eye-catching dessert is guaranteed to delight holiday dinner guests. Chocolate lovers will lick their lips over the yummy cocoa cake, mocha filling and frosting. For a festive touch, I garnish the log with marzipan holly leaves and berries. —Jenny Hughson, Mitchell, Nebraska
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Chocolate-Dipped Cranberry Cookies

These pretty pink cookies always turn out so tender. They are the hit of my holiday! —Barbara Nowakowski, North Tonawanda, New York
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Holiday Divinity

I've been whipping up this Christmasy treat— with its jolly red and green candied cherries and scrumptious chopped nuts— since 1955. It's so light it melts in your mouth. —Helen White, Kerrville, Texas
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JoJo's Ginger Cookies

It's so much fun to decorate cookies with children's help. We created gingery moose-shaped cookies to go with a book made especially for my niece's third-grade class. The crispy golden brown cookies stole the show.—Jenet Cattar, Neptune Beach, Florida
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Chocolate Mint Brownies

One of the best things about this recipe is that these mint chocolate brownies get moister if you leave them in the refrigerator for a day or two. The problem at our house is that no one can leave them alone for that long! —Helen Baines, Elkton, Maryland
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Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

My group of friends had a weekly "movie night" during winters on Martha's Vineyard, and we'd take turns making a chocolate treat to share. These terrific cookies were an instant success. Once they debuted, I had to make them many more times. —Laura Bryant German, W. Warren, Massachusetts
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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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Easy Truffles

Our smooth, creamy bonbons are so divine you may be tempted to save this recipe for a special occasion. But with just a few ingredients, they're easy to make anytime. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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My Christmas Fudge

This fudge is virtually foolproof and so creamy you won't believe it. I've searched for years for the richest fudge, and this one does it for me. You can add just about anything you like to customize it.—Barbara Miller, Oakdale, Minnesota
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Snowmen Cookies

These cute snowmen cookies make fun treats for children's parties. Kids are always willing to chip in and help decorate them. —Sherri Johnson, Burns, Tennessee
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Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Everyone who tries these beloved gems is amazed that they use only five ingredients. Baking cookies doesn't get much easier than this. —Dee Davis, Sun City, Arizona
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White Chocolate Peppermint Crunch

This is my favorite confection to make at Christmas. Not only is it easy, it's delicious as well. I like to fill small bags with the crunchy candy to place in gift baskets.—Nancy Shelton, Boaz, Kentucky
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Buttery Spritz Cookies

This tender spritz cookie recipe is very eye-catching on my Christmas cookie tray. The dough is easy to work with, so it's fun to make these spritz cookies into a variety of festive shapes. This is hands down the best spritz cookie recipe ever. —Beverly Launius, Sandwich, Illinois
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Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes

These luscious cupcakes have a touch of semisweet chocolate in the batter and white chocolate in the filling. They melt away fast at our house. —Patricia Harmon, Baden, Pennsylvania
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Eggnog Trifle

This classic Christmas dessert is too delicious to have just once a year. So our family serves it for birthdays…and whatever other occasion we can think of! —Cynthia Butt, Winnipeg, Manitoba
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Cherry Kiss Cookies

Topped with a chocolate kiss, these cherry-flavored cookies look super cute on a dessert tray. Share them with family and friends. —Joy Yurk, Grafton, Wisconsin
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Cream Cheese Candies

These homemade mints make a perfect last-minute addition to holiday treat trays. Pretty much everyone in my neighborhood has this recipe now! —Katie Koziolek, Hartland, Minnesota
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Mint Brownie Pie

I first served this treat to my family on St. Patrick's Day, and it was an instant success. Now I serve it year-round; in the winter, I leave out the green food coloring to make a cool white mint pie. —Karen Hayes,Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania.
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Peppermint-Kissed Fudge Mallow Cookies

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without these cute-as-can-be treats. Fudgy-rich chocolate cookies with refreshing mint flavor, soft marshmallow, crunchy candy...it’s a must-try holiday recipe! —Priscilla Yee, Concord, California
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Swirled Mint Cookies

No one will believe that these rich and buttery cookies are light, but they are! With their colorful swirls, each one of these minty, sugary bites has its own look. —Lois Hill, Thomasville, North Carolina
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Cashew Clusters

I make this recipe for many bake sales at the local community college where I work. They are always the first to sell out.—Betsy Grantier, Charlottesville, Virginia
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Hot Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

This is a variation of the cookies my mother made when I was growing up. Now my 13-year-old daughter and I bake them together. They’re always a huge hit! The taste is like rich hot chocolate baked into a scrumptious cookie. —Larry Piklor, Johnsburg, Illinois
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Merry Grinchmas Cookies

Baking cookies around the holidays is a big deal in our house. Some are a must every year and we also come up with new recipes. This one is simple, delicious and fun to make with the kids!—Angela Lemoine, Howell, New Jersey
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Peppermint Red Velvet Cake

A couple of years ago, I saw a recipe for a peppermint red velvet cake that called for cake mixes. I prefer homemade cakes, so I developed this one from scratch. It is a beautiful, elegant dessert. In the summer, I omit the peppermint and use fresh berries, adding them between the layers and on top of the frosting. —Aimee Fortney, Fairview, Tennessee
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Chocolate Fruit N Nut Cookies

Filled with fruit, nuts, chocolate and loads of flavor, these traditional Italian treats hit the spot. We enjoy them at Christmas with a hot beverage.
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Whipped Shortbread

These whipped shortbread Christmas cookies melt in your mouth. Mostly I make them for the holidays, but I'll also prepare them year-round for wedding showers and afternoon teas. —Jane Ficiur, Bow Island, Alberta
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Peanut Butter Snowballs

This recipe for peanut butter ball cookies is a nice change from the typical milk chocolate and peanut butter combination. I once prepared them for a bake sale at my granddaughter's school, and I've also put them in gift boxes to share with neighbors at Christmas. —Wanda Regula, Birmingham, Michigan
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Chocolate Almond Brittle

Here in Kern County, there are thousands of acres of almond orchards. I like to experiment with recipes—always trying to come up with something new. This candy is the result of altering, adding and a lot of taste testing (somebody had to do it!). I think it turned out rather well. —Pat Parsons, Bakersfield, California
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Colorful Candy Bar Cookies

No one will guess these sweet treats with the candy bar center start with store-bought dough. Roll them in colored sugar or just dip the tops for even faster assembly. Instead of using miniature candy bars for the centers, you can also slice regular-size Snickers candy bars into 1-inch pieces. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Festive New York-Style Cheesecake

My mother-in-law received this recipe from an Italian friend many years ago. I added the chocolate-nut crust. It's our favorite holiday dessert. —Gloria A. Warczak, Cedarburg, Wisconsin
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Shortbread Cutouts

I found this recipe in a magazine over 30 years ago and have made the cutouts for Christmas ever since. Four ingredients make them an oh-so-simple recipe to whip up during the hectic holidays. —Jean Henderson, Montgomery, Texas
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Norwegian Cookies

This recipe was passed down to me from my mother-in-law. The soft sugar cookies are a favorite with our four children. —Karen Skowronek, Minot, North Dakota
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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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Classic Candy Cane Butter Cookies

To make cookies that look like candy canes, we color half the dough in classic red and twist away. They're fun to hang on the side of a coffee mug, or you can devour them on their own. —Shannon Roum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Tiny Tim Sandwich Cookies

When I was growing up, my mother and I created special Christmas memories in the kitchen preparing these cute, bite-sized cookies. Vary the food coloring for holidays throughout the year. —Eudora Delezenne, Port Huron, Michigan
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Meringue Santa Hats

My grandkids love it when I make meringues shaped like Santa hats. If they are here, they love to help—they like to put red glitter on the meringue and take such pride in knowing they have helped Grandma.—Bonnie Hawkins, Elkhorn, Wisconsin
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Pistachio Buttons

This cookie recipe makes a big batch, which comes in handy during the holidays. The green center adds a festive touch. —Nella Parker, Hersey, Michigan
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Red Velvet Cake Roll

Get ready for oohs and aahs when you set this on the table. A creamy white chocolate filling rolls up beautifully inside a layer of fluffy red velvet cake. To make it extra festive, dust stripes of confectioners' sugar for a candy cane look. —Tonya Forsyth, Waurika, Oklahoma
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Poinsettia Pinwheel Cookies

I must make 30 different kinds of cookies during the Christmas season—many to give away as gifts. Judging from the comments I get, these pretty pink poinsettias with a hint of cinnamon flavor are not just my own personal favorite!—Patricia Eckard, Singers Glen, Virginia
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Gingerbread Cookies with Lemon Frosting

When I spread these spicy gingerbread rounds with my lemony cream cheese frosting, I knew I had a hit. Cardamom and allspice add a hint of chai tea flavor. —Aysha Schurman, Ammon, Idaho
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Cherry-Coconut Slices

My mother got this recipe from a woman named Emmie Oddie, a well-known home economist in Canada who had a column in a farming newspaper. Oddie would test reader recipes in her own kitchen and write about it. These tasty sweets are so rich that you need only a small piece. —Judy Olson, Whitecourt, Alberta
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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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Chocolate Walnut Crescents

I use a round cookie cutter to form the crescent shapes for these nutty favorites. They're so pretty sprinkled with sugar and drizzled with chocolate. —TerryAnn Moore, Vineland, New Jersey
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Christmas Tree Cookies

Delight family and friends with these holly jolly evergreens. Iced with creamy frosting and dusted with sparkly colored sugars, the 3-D cookie trees are as delicious as they are beautiful!—Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Gingerbread Meringue Bars

For the best of both worlds, I combined my grandmother's gingerbread recipe with my aunt's special brown sugar meringue. The result? These lovable holiday-perfect bars that have become a new family tradition. —Eden Dranger, Los Angeles, California
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Holiday Reindeer Cookies

Gather 'round the tree on Christmas Eve and feast on these adorable reindeer cookies. If you listen closely, you might heard reindeer hoofs on the roof! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Homemade Butterfinger Bites

Bent on using up a stash of leftover candy corn, I decided to experiment. Turns out, if you melt it, mix it with peanut butter and coat the balls with chocolate, you get a softer, denser version of a Butterfinger bite. Who knew? They’re delicious! —Melissa Hansen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Ice Cream Snowballs with Raspberry Sauce

I needed a dessert for a church group at Christmas, and snowballs came to mind. For added flavor, toast the coconut before making these frozen treats. —Nancy Bruce, Big Timber, MT
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Lemon-Rosemary Cutout Trees

I recommend serving these cookies with tea. They're not too sweet and the lemon and rosemary pair well with a cup of Earl Grey tea.—Sarah Reynolds, Victoria, British Columbia
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Rainbow S'moreo Cookies

Homemade Oreo-style cookies are pretty great on their own, but they're even better when you add graham cracker crumbs to the cookie dough, stuff them with marshmallow creme, and then roll them in sprinkles. You can change the color of the sprinkles depending on the holiday or occasion you're baking them for. —Colleen Delawder, Herndon, Virginia
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Little Holiday Cakes

My college friend shared this cupcake recipe that has pie crust on the bottom, raspberry jam in the middle and cake on top—scrumptious for a buffet or potluck. —Dana Beckstrom, Salt Lake City, Utah
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Chocolate-Caramel Dream Pie

Chocolate, caramel and cream cheese come together to produce a pleasing pie that's packed with lots of rich flavor. Guests will surely save room for dessert!— Anna Robb, Harrison, Arkansas
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Mint Angel Cake

One sight of this lovely cake will have guests saving room for dessert! For an easy garnish, sprinkle with crushed mint candies.—Agnes Ward, Stratford, Ontario
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Gingerbread Men Cookies

No holiday treat platter would be complete without gingerbread man cookies! This is a tried-and-true recipe I'm happy to share with you. —Mitzi Sentiff, Annapolis, Maryland
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Silver Bells

My mom and grandma are known for their signature Christmas cookies. I decided to create my own, inspired by one of my favorite Christmas songs. Edible shimmer dust gives them their iconic shine. Look for the dust in the cake decorating section of craft or grocery stores. —Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado
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Spearmint Thins

No time to bake cookies from scratch? Create a tasty treat in little more than half an hour by doctoring butter-flavored crackers with vanilla chips and mint candies.—Kathleen Felton, Fairfax, Iowa
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White Chocolate Cranberry-Orange Bars

This is my take on my mother's recipe for chocolate chunk bars, which she made every Christmas Eve. Our family is scattered across the country now; making these reminds me of home. If you don't have a pastry cutter, you can use two sharp knifes or a potato masher. My mom makes this with semisweet chocolate chunks. —Erin Powell, Amarillo, Texas
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Chocolate Cutout Cookies

I love gingerbread cookies, but my grandchildren don't like the ginger flavor. Now I use chocolate and watch them smile as they take that first bite. —Nancy Murphy, Mount Dora, Florida
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Apple Red-Hot Slab Pie

This dessert is my family's absolute favorite because it holds so many memories for us. Red Hots give the filling a color that makes it an instant hit at parties. —Linda Morten, Somerville, Texas
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Candy Cane Reindeer

We had a blast creating these adorable candy cane stocking stuffers! Rudolph and his friends never looked sweeter than they do with pretzel antlers, chocolate eyes, and candy noses made with Red Hots. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Christmas Elf Cake Pops

Happy elves that happen to taste like PB&J can easily be part of the party decor—until dessert, when they'll magically disappear! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Santa and Elf Christmas Cookies

The kids will be jumping for joy when you bring out a cookie plate filled with Santas and his helper elves. These whimsical treats will be a hit with adults, too. The butter cookies are easy to shape and a delight to decorate. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen

Amy Glander
Amy is a book editor at Taste of Home where she gets to pour her passions for food and storytelling into trade and series cookbooks. When she’s not writing or editing, you’ll find her antiquing, cooking and baking from her favorite vintage cookbooks and exploring Milwaukee’s urban beauty with her digital SLR in hand.

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