30 Days of Holiday Cakes and Pies

Day 1: Moody Tongue’s Chocolate Cake

This recipe is all about planning, as it’s worth every single second spent making it. It’s an epic assemblage of rich chocolate cake, tangy espresso cheesecake, nutty German chocolate filling and buttercream, all enrobed in dark chocolate ganache. No single part of it is difficult to make, and once this colossal beauty is ready to serve, it’s off-the-charts delicious and perfect for 25 people or more.

30 Days of Holiday Cakes and Pies

Day 2: Buttermilk Eggnog Pie

Whether or not eggnog is your holiday libation of choice, this buttery spiced pie is irresistible. TV chef Carla Hall flavors her Southern buttermilk pie with rum and lots of nutmeg, which evoke the flavors of eggnog. It only takes 30 active minutes to whip up, which is ideal during the hectic holidays.

Day 3: Vanilla Sponge Cake with Blackberry-Tarragon Jam 

We’ve found the perfect breakfast cake, which is totally allowed during the holidays. Pastry genius Dominique Ansel bakes a delicate sponge, the foundation of France’s intricate layer cakes, in a homey loaf pan like an English quick bread to create a new Anglo-French baking tradition. It’s ethereal served with his easy, licorice-y jam.

Day 4: Pear-and-Cranberry Slab Pie

Another dessert we can endorse for holiday breakfast, this delicious slab pie is filled with fruit and thus can be eaten in the morning. Instead of making a traditional two-crust pie in a pie plate, Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple makes this free-form, fruit-filled, ginger-laced pie on a baking sheet.

Day 5: Tres Leches Cake

This decadent cake gets soaked in a blend of the three usual milks—condensed, evaporated and regular whole—then is topped with whipped cream for maximum moistness. So perhaps we should call it cuatro leches? Either way, it’s definitely a sweet treat you’ll want to serve at your holiday table.

Day 6: Sweet Potato and Coffee Cream Pie

A coffee with that slice of pie? At Angela Pinkerton’s counter-style pie and sandwich shop Theorita in San Francisco, the caffeine’s built in. Espresso flavors the cookie crust and the whipped pastry cream atop an orange-infused sweet potato filling. Bake this pie for the holidays this year to shake up the traditional flavors on the dessert table.

Day 7: Bibi’s Coconut Cake

Julie Tanous, the food blogger who works with actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, uses coconut in every part of this festive dessert, from cake to filling to frosting. Bibi was her grandmother, and she inspired this tasty and deeply Southern recipe. If you have any coconut lovers in your family, this cake would be the perfect gift.

Day 8: MoKan Nut Pie

This riff on pecan pie from Kansas City, Missouri chef Megan Garrelts is called MoKan because it refers to Missouri and Kansas; when Megan makes it, she uses Missouri pecans and Kansas black walnuts. It has a great flaky crust and plenty of fragrant nuts, with a classic sticky pecan pie filling.

Day 9: Christmas Boiled Fruit Cake

We know fruit cake gets a bad rap, but we’re here to ask you to forget its unfortunate reputation. If anyone can help you to overcome your preconceptions, it’s Andrew Zimmern. This easy and forgiving recipe is inspired by a boiled fruit cake he tasted when visiting Newfoundland. By boiling the dried fruit with rum, molasses, cream and spices the cake turns out deliciously spongy and moist.

Day 10: Butterscotch Pudding Pie

Butterscotch pudding was Gail Simmons’s number one dessert choice when she was a kid. The Top Chef judge likes to keep it homey, focusing on the buttery flavor and lingering finish of real Scotch. To turn it into a decadent holiday pie, she thickens the pudding more than usual and pours it into a fully cooled piecrust flecked with golden pecans. The contrasting textures of rich pudding and nutty, flaky dough make this a grown-up ode to the comforting childhood classic.

Day 11: Babette Friedman’s Apple Cake

Though fall has passed, we think apple desserts are in season well through the holidays. Le Coucou chef Daniel Rose stirs apples into the batter of this pound cake–like dessert, then tops it with more of the Calvados-spiked fruit. We like to enjoy a slice of this fruity treat with a warm mug of cider.

Day 12: Pumpkin Cream Pie in a Chocolate Crust

Cookbook author Melissa Clark likes pumpkin pie as much as the rest of us, but she likes making it in new and unexpected ways. Here she bakes a silky pumpkin custard in a crispy chocolate cookie crust, then dollops the pie with a tangy crème fraîche topping. It’s the perfect way to keep the tradition on the holiday table while still mixing it up a bit.

Day 13: Triple-Layer Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

There’s chocolate cake and then there’s this. This magnificent, elaborate dessert has three layers of moist, tender chocolate with a hint of cinnamon and a silky chocolate ganache. Plus, it’s topped with festive sugared cranberries. We can guarantee your family will be impressed, enamored and then stuffed when you bake this incredible cake.

Day 14: Brown Butter Pecan Pie with Espresso Dates

Looking to spice up your traditional pecan pie? At Sofra Bakery & Cafe in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Maura Kilpatrick is known for her ingenious blending of American and Middle Eastern flavors. Here she balances sweet Medjool dates with bitter espresso and toasty brown butter for a pie that might look familiar but is surprisingly complex.

Day 15: Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

Rich, buttery and deeply flavorful, this killer sticky toffee cake from Abigail Quinn at Proof Bakeshop in Atlanta is the ultimate holiday dessert. The best part? The recipe only takes an hour and a half from start to finish, so it’s ideal for a last-minute treat when entertaining the family.

Day 16: Salted Caramel Pie

This super easy caramel lovers’ dream pie will be a welcome addition to your holiday dessert menu. The filling is sweetened condensed milk sprinkled lightly with sea salt and baked until thick and gooey, then chilled in a simple graham cracker crust. We dare you to name a better pie.

Day 17: Pumpkin Layer Cake with Mascarpone Frosting

We don’t know about you, but we simply did not get enough pumpkin over Thanksgiving. That’s why we’re extending pumpkin season to the rest of the holidays. This classic pumpkin cake from Food & Wine’s Justin Chapel is perfectly moist and delicately spiced. The simple vanilla buttercream frosting gets a lovely tang from the mascarpone that’s blended in.

Day 18: Mountain Rose Apple Pie

In America, apple pie is always appropriate. It’s a delicious, traditional crowd-pleaser and certainly fits right in on your holiday table between the pecan and the pumpkin pies. Rebecca Masson of Houston’s Fluff Bake Bar tops her dense and incredible apple pie with a thick layer of crisp, buttery crumble.

Day 19: Concord Cake

Do you want to really impress your family this holiday season? This crunchy, creamy, luscious, whimsical confection of a cake from Gadi Peleg, an owner of Breads Bakery in Manhattan, is a chocoholic’s dream, with crisp and chewy meringue layers sandwiched with silky chocolate mousse, all hiding under a shower of chocolate meringue sticks.

Day 20: Pumpkin-and-White Chocolate Mousse Pie

You may be tired of pumpkin at this point in the season, but we can guarantee at least one family member will complain if there isn’t a pumpkin pie on the table over the holidays. We’ve got you covered. This reimagined pumpkin pie from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco has an ethereal pumpkin-and-white-chocolate-mousse filling and a stellar, crunchy crust.

Day 21: Chocolate and Coffee-Hazelnut Meringue Cake

It’s highly likely that your family members enjoy both chocolate and coffee. This year, give them a gift of a dessert that has both. Chef Ruben Ortega makes this delicious, crowd-pleasing cake by sandwiching two large, crispy, chewy coffee-hazelnut meringues with a creamy mocha-mousse filling. It’s pretty epic if you ask us.

Day 22: Mile High Ice Cream Pie

Ice cream lovers, rejoice. Adapted from pastry chef Erin Swanson’s towering dessert at the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans, the Mile High Ice Cream Pie has been a fixture of the hotel’s Caribbean Room since former executive chef Louis Evans ran the kitchen in the 1970s. This simplified version uses store-bought ice cream and packed chocolate wafer cookies for a no-fuss, three-ingredient crust.

Day 23: Apple Cake with Cranberries

This may be the quickest holiday cake you can possibly make. In just 20 active minutes you can throw together a festive dessert the whole family will love. For his moist and buttery upside-down cake, Food & Wine’s Justin Chapel layers apples with cranberries and brown sugar, then tops them with a fantastic sour cream batter.

Day 24: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

These days, you’re bound to have a holiday guest who keeps a gluten-free diet. This recipe features a classic pumpkin pie filling in a buttery gluten-free crust. You can use this great all-purpose GF crust for all of your holiday pies, like pecan pie and apple pie. To make a double-crusted pie, simply double the pie crust ingredients

Day 25: Yam Cake

Our phenomenal yam cake is spiced with both fresh and ground ginger as well as cinnamon and a little freshly ground pepper. Did we mention it’s okay to eat cake for breakfast over the holidays? This glazed treat can be refrigerated for up to three days, which means three days of dessert in the morning.

Day 26: Mud Pie

The holidays are a time for over-the-top, sweet-as-can-be desserts just because we’re in the spirit. This decadent ice cream pie has a crunchy cookie crust, a fudge chocolate-pecan layer and lots of coffee ice cream. To top it off: A blanket of homemade hot fudge plus a generous heap of whipped cream.

Day 27: Jacques Pépin’s Favorite Pound Cake

The French call pound cake quatre-quarts (“four-fourths”) because it is made with equal parts flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Jacques Pépin’s mother, aunt and cousin all have their versions. He likes to fold in candied citrus peels to make a French fruit cake; he also loves plain slices dipped in espresso. Any of these options make a great holiday snack.

Day 28: French Silk Pie

This chocolatey, whipped creamy pie is truly heavenly. We highly recommend baking this one if you want your guests to come back for seconds. A thin layer of rich ganache prevents the chocolate filling from making the crust here soggy. If you don’t want to make your own pie crust, simply use a 9-inch graham cracker crust.

Day 29: Poppy Seed Cake with Citrus Curd Whipped Cream

For our final holiday cake, we’ll take it easy on you. We love this tender whole wheat cake from Food & Wine’s Paige McCurdy-Flynn. The poppy seeds get soaked in milk overnight to make them extra soft. The cake can be covered with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for up to three days, which is perfect for late-night holiday snacking.

Day 30: Caramel-Pecan Hand Pies

And for the final pie in your 30 days of holiday baking, we’re hitting you with one you can take to go. Hand pies are the ultimate holiday entertaining dessert for a few reasons. They are extremely portable, they keep any greedy family member from taking half the pie and when you’re ready for your family to leave, you can give them dessert for the road.

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