7 Desserts to Spice Up Your Holidays

Submitted a month ago
Created by
Katie Donovan

Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin cheesecake.  Pumpkin roll.  These are all great classic recipes I make on Thanksgiving but here are some new ideas I'm considering this year.  

I was inspired after looking at Jen Driscoll's recipes from Infuse Me.    I often use her olive oils to flavor couscous, chicken, or salad dressings, but I was surprised to learn you can substitute them for butter in desserts.

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Here are some of the desserts I found most enticing that I think could really wow family and guests this holiday.  Make them for your cookie swap, surprise your co-workers, or send some to your local nonprofit as a thank you for all their hard work.

Photos and recipes courtesy of Jen Driscoll at Infuse Me.

I've made poached pears like this and they were delicious!  I love the cinnamon mascarpone idea!  A great holiday dessert.


For The Pears 

4 medium, firm pears such as Bosc or D'Anjou peeled, cored and halved
A bottle of fruity red wine such as Malbec or Pinot
1 cup  Cinnamon Pear Balsamic 
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick 1 cup granulated sugar For The Mascarpone 
1 8oz. container mascarpone
2 tablespoons heavy cream  3 tablespoons honey 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon In a medium, heavy saucepan mix the red wine, balsamic, sugar, cinnamon stick and star anise.  Bring to a simmer and reduce by 1/3 (about 15 minutes).  Place the pear halves in to the hot poaching liquid and simmer for 25 minutes or until the pear halves are vivid red and tender when pierced with a knife tip.  Chill the pears in the poaching liquid.  Meanwhile, make the honey-mascarpone.  Using a stand mixer or in a medium mixing bowl, whip the mascarpone, honey and cinnamon together until light and airy.  Serve the chilled pears with a dollop of mascarpone.

The idea of chocolate, coffee, and balsamic in a fudge - yum.  Creative and sounds tasty.  


10 oz. Heavy Cream

4 oz. Aged Espresso Balsamic

1 pound (about 2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips 

3 Tbs. unsalted butter cut in to small pieces

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Butter a 9x13" baking pan and line with parchment that overhangs the sides.  In a metal bowl or double boiler, add all of the ingredients except the salt.  Set over a pot of gently simmering water, stirring constantly until the chocolate has completely melted.  The mixture will be very thick.  Pour in to the prepared pan.  Allow to cool to room temperature and cut in to squares.  Sprinkle a few grains of sea salt on each square.

Makes about 3 pounds of fudge.

I love white chocolate - add lime.  Sounds wonderful! 


1/4 cup Persian Lime Olive Oil

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup Sour Cream

2 cups miniature marshmallows

·1/2 lb white chocolate morsels

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

finely grated zest of two limes, about 1 tablespoon 

1 cup granulated sugar

Grease an 8" x 8" square baking pan. Combine sugar, lime zest, Persian Lime Extra Virgin Olive Oil, lime juice, butter and sour cream in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and mixture boils, stirring constantly. Continue boiling  over medium heat or until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees.  Remove from heat, stir marshmallows and white chocolate until melted and mixture is smooth. Immediately pour fudge into greased pan and let stand about 10 minutes until top is firm to touch. Using a knife, score top of fudge to make fudge squares. Refrigerate about 1 hour. When cool and firm, cut out fudge.

Such cute cookies.  I don't know if I could choose between orange, lime, or lemon.  I think I'd want to make a little of all of them.   What about mango pineapple?


3 cups unbleached organic flour

2 cups granulated cane sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 finely grated orange peel

1 cup Blood Orange (fused) Agrumato Olive Oil (persian lime or Lemon Oil)

2 large room temperature eggs, whisked

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice (Lime or Lemon juice)

Powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, orange agrumato oil, orange juice, and eggs.  Beat on medium speed until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and remaining dry ingredients.  

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three additions beating in between additions until no dry spots remain.

Pipe the cookie dough using a pastry bag fitted with a star shaped pastry, portioning approximately two teaspoons of dough per cookie, onto a parchment lined cookie sheet pan.  Alternatively, use two spoons to drop batter onto the cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes. Increase the heat to 425 F and bake for an additional 2 minutes to aid in creating a golden brown exterior.  Remove the cookies to a rack to cool.  Repeat with the remainder of the dough. When fully cooled, dust with powdered sugar.  Yields about 48 cookies

Orange and chocolate yum! A classic combination for a decadent dessert for the holidays.  


Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup cocoa powder  

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. salt 

1 tsp. baking soda 

1 Tbs.  dark balsamic ( try chocolate or espresso)

2 large eggs beaten with enough cold water to equal one cup  

1/2 cup Blood Orange Agrumato Olive Oil + more for greasing pans 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease two 9-inch cake pans, one muffin pan, or one 13x9-inch pan with Blood Orange Agrumato.  Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Thoroughly mix together the liquid ingredients in a separate  large bowl until smooth.  Add the dry ingredients in to the wet and mix using a hand or stand mixer on low.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pans. 

Bake for 30 minutes (cupcakes will take about 15 min.) or until a cake skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Make sure to not over-bake the cake. It should spring back when lightly touched, and a cake skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean.  Cool for 20-25 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans to cool completely. Apply ganache when cool.

Blood Orange Ganache

8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 Tbs. Blood Orange Agrumato Olive Oil

1 pinch of sea salt

Place the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl.  Heat the Cream in a sauce pan over medium heat until just about simmering.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for five minutes.  Gently whisk the chocolate and cream until smooth, consistent, and free from any lumps. 

Add in the blood orange agrumato olive oil to the chocolate and whisk to thoroughly incorporate.  Allow to cool until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Gently spread the slightly cooled ganache over the the completely cooled cake. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and a tangerine segment as garnish, if desired. 

Serves 12 small but decadent servings.


Jen recommends these instructions for working with this delicate pastry. 

1 lb.phyllo dough


6 ounces blanched almonds

6 ounces roasted walnuts

6 ounces roasted pistachios

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon fresh grated  blood orange zest

1 cup + 1 tablespoon Fresh Blood Orange Olive Oil

For the syrup:

1 cup honey

1/2 cup water 1 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice

1 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

2" strip of blood orange zest


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease the the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan with Blood Orange .

Pulse the nuts with the sugar, orange zest and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor until finely chopped. Unroll and cut the phyllo sheets in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, brush with blood orange olive oil thoroughly. Repeat the process until there are 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, blood orange olive oil, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.

Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into four long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake in the center of the oven for approximately  50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.  

Make the syrup while baklava is baking. In a heavy sauce pan, bring the water, sugar and blood orange juice to a boil. Add honey, cinnamon stick and orange peel and simmer for about 20 minutes longer. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it and allow to cool.


1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbs.fresh squeezed orange juice (about 4-5 large navel oranges)

1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest

 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

5 large eggs

3 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbs. Blood Orange Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup confectioners sugar

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and crank up the heat to 350°F (175°C). Coat a 12-cup bundt or tube pan with 1 tbs. blood orange olive oil and set aside.

Finely grate the zest of 2 oranges, then squeeze 4 of them. You should have 1 1/2 cups and 1 reserved tablespoon of orange juice of juice; if not, squeeze the 5th orange. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand held mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and blood orange extra virgin olive oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the orange juice, zest and dried cranberries and whirl for a few seconds to bring the batter together.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 1/4 hours. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes and then turn the cake out on to a rack over a sheet pan.  Mix together 1 tablespoon reserved orange juice with confectioners sugar to form a glaze.  Pour slowly and evenly over the warm cake.  Serve at room temperature.

For more tasty idea recipes try these:

BBQ ideas

Tasty Oatmeal Recipes

Want more ideas? Here are a sampling of articles from my blog: Managing Your Time, Secret Santa Gifts, 5 Faith-Based Movies on Netflix, The Secret to a Contented Life


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