Looking for holiday baking inspiration? Start here

Egg nog cream pie. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
Egg nog cream pie. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Its mid-December, which means we’ve officially hit holiday baking season. Instead of sticking with the usual sugar cookies or chocolate crinkles, we suggest getting a little creative. Lucky for you, we’ve got a plethora of delicious — and unexpected — holiday recipes here on NOSH. (Almost) all of them are by the supremely talented, imaginative Moriah VanVleet, the voice behind Butter Sugar Flowers. We’ll be consulting this list over the next week as we gather with families and celebrate the new year.   

COOKIES

Sesame halvah cookies. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
Sesame halvah cookies. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Sesame Halvah Cookies Surrounded with buttery dough and topped with rich chocolate, the decadence of halvah is truly celebrated in these one-of-a-kind cookies. A sprinkle of fragrant sesame seeds matches perfectly with the nutty candy within, just as the crisp adornments pair nicely with the crumble of the cookie.

Cranberry Clove Cookies With their shortbread-like dough, warm cloves and tangy citrus zest, cranberry clove cookies impart a decadent taste and aroma alike. A welcome twist on typical leftovers, these cookies are sure to fill your kitchen with a festive, mouthwatering scent — and your mouth and belly with the deliciousness of the holiday season.

Sazerac cookies. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
Sazerac cookies. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Sazerac Cookies These decadent cookies are perfectly enrobed in their cocktail-rich glaze. The sazerac icing envelops each bite-sized treat with a crisp, sweet, subtly boozy shell — and the tiny twist of lemon is a charming echo of the drink’s traditional garnish. Herbal and citrusy, sazerac cookies have proven to be a welcome treat by drinkers and non-drinkers alike. They celebrate the spirits behind them, just as they usher in a spirit of celebration. Cheers!


Orange Cardamom Cookies With their distinctive spice, tangy citrus punch and decadent tad of a topping, orange cardamom cookies bestow not only fragrant succulence but also gem-like beauty. Soft and crumbly with a chewy center, the variety of texture and flavor in each bite is a salute to the very versatility of the spice that inspired them.

Rosehip graham crackers. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
Rosehip graham crackers. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Rosehip Graham Crackers When homemade honey grahams meet the unexpected but delectable flavor of rosehips, delicious things happen. The rosehips bring a perfect bit of earthiness that’s almost herbal-tasting, along with a faint whisper of tartness reminiscent of fresh sourdough bread. Crisp and buttery, rosehip graham crackers are so tasty, light and small, they’re simply addictive.

Almond or Peanut Butter Cookies With their trace of cinnamon, their moist brown sugar and their high share of nut butter, these little cookies pack a rich and flavorful bite in a soft and tender form. By avoiding electric beaters, sifted flour and egg whites, the dough is dense and delicious — much like the nut butter they’re made of. And with this recipe’s simplicity and ease, you just might make both types — almond and peanut — in one scrumptious session.

Turkish coffee meringues. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
Turkish coffee meringues. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Turkish Coffee Meringues Flavorful and fragrant, these miniature sandwich cookies are full of sweet coffee taste and delectable spice. Not unlike the drink that inspired them, they deliver a robust burst of flavor and a welcome pick-me-up. They are crisp, light and echo the festive feeling of their namesake brew. And as a bonus to their deliciousness, meringues are gluten-free, fat-free and dairy-free — as long as your fillings and decorations are, too.

Rooibos Capetown Cookies Tropical, floral, fruity and light, these gluten-free cookies are abundant with delicious flavor. Their crisp, airy, chewy texture is surely satisfying, and their quick and low oven time lets the taste of the fragrant rooibos come through beautifully.

CAKES

Spiced pear sandwich cakes. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
Spiced pear sandwich cakes. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Spiced Pear Sandwich Cakes Full of flavorful bits of pear and clove, these tender little cakes become vibrant once transformed into these whoopie pie style treats. Their creamy, spiced filling is further brightened by the slice of cool, juicy fruit in each bite. Finger-licking is encouraged — along with one last spirited dive into those bright fall leaves.

Sunroot Spice Cake This cake proved to be a delicious celebration of its unusual main ingredient — grated sunroot (or sunchokes). The lemon zest complements the tangy quality of the sunroot, and the molasses and cloves pair well with its earthy attributes. In fact, one taster thought he detected a welcome hint of cedar with each of his bites of the cake’s spicy-sweet crumb.

Aperol spritz cupcakes. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
Aperol spritz cupcakes. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Aperol Spritz Cupcakes These cute cakes are an edible rendition of the drink’s most distinctive ingredients — Bubbly-sweet prosecco and tangy Aperol mingle with grapefruit juice for a desset that’s lusciously delicate and bittersweet at once.

Firelit Coffee Liqueur Cake Studded with spiked, plumped raisins, citrus zest and flecks of almond, this dark and fragrant cake is full of boozey brown sugar and warm coffee essence. Enjoyed by non-coffee drinkers and even the alcohol-averse, each bite offers distinct yet delicate layers of flavor with a moist crumb. Savor a slice with a cup of coffee — or perhaps even a glass of its own namesake.

Mimosa Cupcakes. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
Mimosa Cupcakes. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Mimosa Cupcakes Whether sipping bubbly at midnight or enjoying a mimosa with brunch, many of us will celebrate the new year with champagne glasses clinking left and right. Our favorite version of the sparkling spirit comes in the form of a festive dessert: mini mimosa cupcakes. Topped with beautiful candied mimosa flowers, these champagne-spiked, orange-flecked treats offer a delicate, celebratory sweetness and a burst of crisp, floral flavor.

Brown Sugar Soy Sauce Cake With its crisp caramelized bottom and its gooey, buttery top, this citrusy cake is as beautiful as it is delicious. The splash of robust soy sauce imbues the cake with a perfect amount of salt, balancing beautifully with the brown sugar and creating a layer of tender, butterscotchy topping that caramelizes and permeates the orange slices.

Tea & Sympathy Cake Moist, rich and fragrant, this cake is equally wonderful as a breakfast, a snack, or a dessert. You might serve it in decorative teacups for dainty presentation, or try topping each piece with a fresh berry or an edible flower. Whatever you do, don’t be ashamed to mindfully devour every bite – after all, everyone deserves a little sympathy.

CONFECTIONS & PIES

Pumpkin caramels. Photo: Kate Williams
Pumpkin caramels. Photo: Kate Williams

Pumpkin Caramels Homemade pumpkin caramels make great bite-sized party favors — or gifts to take to friends over the holiday — that truly shine with the flavors of fall. They may sound like a lot of work, but these miniature candies are not terribly difficult once you get the hang of boiling sugar. Plus their layers of rich pumpkin and sweet maple flavor means that a little treat goes a long way.

Egg Nog Cream Pie Custardy and crisp at once, this pie is a successful celebration of the beverage behind it. The spicy gingersnap crust is rich with butter and bits of almonds, and is balanced by the creamy coolness of every bite. Easy to make and scrumptious to eat, this dessert has thrilled both lovers and loathers of drinking egg nog. The nutmeg throughout is a natural match, giving the dessert even more of a holiday flavor than the main ingredient already offered. And the more holiday flavor, the better — ’tis the season!

Quince tart. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
Quince tart. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Quince Skillet Tart Fragrant and refreshing, quince tart is an unusual, delectable dessert. Its notes of vanilla and orange are wondrous alongside the sweet almond paste and tangy fruit. Each bite bursts with unique layers of flavor and the wondrous fragrance that only quince can offer. And a generous topping of whipped cream, hard sauce or vanilla ice cream will delightfully increase its wonder.

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