Make These Desserts Ahead and Enjoy Your Holiday!

I’ve always considered desserts the simplest part of the holiday feast. That’s because you can get it all done–or at least, mostly done–a couple of days before the big day so you have plenty of time to attend to other chores and dishes.

make-ahead-desserts-framesHere are five delicious, seasonal desserts that you can make at least two to three days ahead and savor throughout the holidays.

  1. Apple Pie with Chinese Five Spice and Hazelnut Crumb Topping. Chinese five spice powder adds a surprising, bright note to the cooked caramel-y apple filling while a nutty crumb topping adds crunch. You can make the Toasted Nut Pastry Dough up to a week ahead, pop it in the fridge, and then cook the filling, blind-bake the crust and finish off the pie a couple of days before the holiday. (Pressed for time? Pick up a pre-made whole-wheat pastry crust. We won’t tell.)
  2. Spiced Pumpkin Harvest Bundt Cake with Pecans. Linda West Eckhardt created this homey, old-fashioned treat to celebrate NOURISH Evolution’s first birthday. It’s golden and rich with warm spices and a lemony glaze. Leftovers will make delightful snacks all weekend long.
  3. Chocolate Angel Food Cake. For some crowds, only chocolate will do, so whip up our angel food cake. Only instead of macerated strawberries, pair it with Grandma Friese’s Whole Cranberries, which are soaked in port. It’s a gorgeous holiday presentation.
  4. Small bites. Desserts don’t have to be lavish to end the feast on a high note, and your guests may well appreciate a selection of little treats. (Honestly, I’m tempted to go this route myself this year.) Decorated with dried cranberries and slivered almonds, Crunchy Ruby-Studded Meringue Buttons are light and festively pretty. Our Chocolate Orange Pistachio Biscotti are prefect for dunking in after-dinner coffee, while these Boozy Orange-Pecan Truffles are rich-tasting, impressive and not too heavy. Make extra and freeze ‘em to enjoy throughout the holiday season.
  5. Pumpkin Tart with Maple Whipped Cream and Toasted Walnuts. Graham crackers, sugar and butter add up to the world’s easiest crust for this tart. Add a simple, spicy pumpkin filling and you’re good to go. Bake the tart up to two days before the feast and store it in the fridge. You also can whip the cream a day or two in advance and refrigerate it. Toast the nuts a day or two ahead and stash them in an airtight container.

Have a happy–and sweet–holiday!

Boozy Orange-Pecan Truffles

by Jacqueline Church

One of my favorite desserts to make during the holidays is Chocolate Truffles. They’re super easy and freeze beautifully which means you can make them well-ahead. This version features three flavors perfect for the Thanksgiving table—orange, bourbon and pecan—and packs a lot of pleasure in just a few bites.

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (roughly 55% cacao)
2 oz dark chocolate (over 65% cacao, depending on your taste)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup rice cereal (like Barbara’s Brown Rice Crispies)
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3 tbsp bourbon

For toppings (you’ll need about 1/2 cup total):

  • Dark chocolate cocoa
  • Powdered sugar
  • Finely chopped toasted pecans

Fill a medium saucepan a third of the way full with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Place chocolate and butter in a metal bowl bigger than the mouth of the saucepan and rest it on top of the pot. Melt the chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Take chocolate off heat and mix in pecans, cereal, orange zest and bourbon. Place bowl in freezer for 45 minutes, until mixture has firmed up enough to scoop.

Line baking sheet with foil. Scoop a teaspoon of truffle mixture, roll it quickly in the palm of your hands to smooth it into a ball, and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the mixture for a total of roughly 30 truffles. Transfer baking sheet to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes.

Spread toppings out on three separate plates. Using a fork, roll one truffle at a time through a topping to coat and shake off excess before transferring to a serving platter or back to the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles with your choice of toppings.

Makes 30 truffles (Serving size, 2 truffles)