Desserts I Plan on Making this Holiday Season

I hope you try some too!



One of the things that I love to do most is bake- and I know many of you do too. So for this article, before the holiday season, I thought I’d share some of my favorite holiday desserts that I am planning on making once the break starts. I hope that maybe it will inspire some of you to make some treats to munch on and share with your friends and family!


First off, I’ll talk about cannoli… not really a holiday dessert per se, but definitely a special one that cannot be made every day. Cannoli requires a lot of hard work, from making the pastry, to frying it, to making the filling. I am including it here because it is what my sister wants for her birthday, which is on the 19th which means it is in the holiday season. So it counts.


Cannoli are traditional Sicilian pastry “pipes”. I hope all of you have had them before, because if you haven’t, you’re missing out big-time. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like them. You can’t get them everywhere here in the South, but in the North they’re definitely more popular due to the larger Italian-American populations. Here, though, you can find them at certain bakeries, some restaurants, and I’ve even seen packages of frozen ones at Costco. However, you can’t beat homemade ones.

The dough is basic, and after it’s chilled it is wrapped around metal tubes, then deep-fried in oil. the result is a crispy, light shell that is then filled with a sweet ricotta (cheese) filling. Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like cheese, just like the richest, most delicious creamy filling ever. Sometimes the ends are dipped in chocolate chips, powdered sugar, or nuts.


The next holiday favorite at my house, and one that I will certainly be making this year, is Italian as well. Struffoli (or Honey Balls) are Neapolitan balls of fried dough, mounded high onto a plate, and drenched in honey and toppings. I always put rainbow sprinkles on top because I absolutely love sprinkles and you can never go wrong with them.


The dough of the Struffoli is sweet, and it is rolled into thin ropes then cut into little pieces that are then rolled into balls. Then they are all put into hot oil to be fried. After being blotted (to just get all the oil off) they are mounded onto a plate with honey and toppings.

making struffoli

These are so delicious, I cannot even begin to put it into words. However, they are extraordinarily sweet due to the honey which might be too much for some people (not me). I will say, they definitely warrant an immediate tooth brushing afterwards.


Rainbow Cookies are next, a very special holiday treat due to the richness and the effort characteristic of them. They take hours to make due to the layers and the chilling necessary. Usually a family friend makes a huge batch and sends them out, but this year I wanted to challenge myself and make them at home. Rainbow Cookies represent the three colors of the Italian flag, green, white, and red. Each layer is separated by a thin layer of raspberry jam and then they are topped with chocolate. I could compare them to a bar cookie, since they are assembled in a pan and then cut into cubes.

rainbow cookies

The largest flavor profile of the cookies is almond, because of the almond paste which is a huge ingredient in the recipe. Next is the delicious raspberry jam that is in between each layer, and of course the chocolate on the top is usually dark and solid which makes it all the better. Rainbow Cookies are so rich! They must be savored because of this, even though I tend to eat them all very quickly.


This next dessert is also a cookie, and even though it is an Italian staple, and not necessarily a holiday one, I associate them with the holiday season because they are special and delicious, and I usually only eat them around the holidays. These are Pignoli cookies. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Pignoli are pine nuts. I just always say the Italian name because they are Italian cookies and it’s more fun to say “Pignoli” rather than plain old “pine”.


Pignoli are soft, sometimes chewy (depending on how long you bake them for) cookies that *fun fact* don’t usually have flour in them. But when flour is added it helps them be a little sturdier. Again, almond paste is a hugeee ingredient in these cookies, just like the Rainbow Cookies. The dough is rolled around in the pignoli and then baked to golden perfection, the nuts on the top just perfectly cooked so that they’re crunchy and fragrant. These smell like absolute joy when they come out of the oven.

Of course, the holiday season would not be complete without gingerbread, be it in the form of cookies, cake, or houses. Something about the scent and taste of the ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg just screams “being cozy in the house while it’s snowing outside.” My mom already made gingerbread cookies this year, but I ate them all so fast so I need to replenish our stock. Gingerbread cookies are fun to make because you roll them out and then cut them into whatever shape you want.

gingerbread cookies

My favorite gingerbread cookie cutter is the whale, just because it is cute and gets chubby when they’re baked. But I also love gingerbread cake. It is so moist and rich and warm and with whipped cream it just is so good. I can’t get enough of gingerbread. When I was younger, I used to make gingerbread houses a lot more than I do now… my only issue with them is that they are a huge waste- I usually only ended up eating the candy off of it and then the cookie got stale.


Looking back, I can see that most of these desserts are Italian, which I guess makes sense for me, but I know not all of you guys are Italian. But I would 10000000% recommend trying all of these sweets if you haven’t had them, because they are just so delicious, and they (to me) are holiday staples. I cannot imagine a holiday season without some of them. If you make them, make sure that you have a reputable recipe (look at the comments online, or find one in a book instead), time, and also quality ingredients. It definitely makes a difference.

Happy Holidays! I hope everyone has a great break! <3