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Seasonal Sweets

Cookies, cakes and more for the holidays

Posted: December 15, 2006

The winter holidays abound in opportunities for cooks and bakers to get up to their elbows in flour, sugar, butter and eggs, not to mention all of the warm spices, richly candied fruits, nuts, peppermint and chocolate that make up the season's sweetest flavor profiles. Whether your holiday plans have you hosting an elegant dinner or delivering boxes of treats to friends and loved ones, our recipe database is full of great recipes for holiday goodies—and we've included plenty of dessert wine suggestions to go along with them.


"Only the stoniest of hearts can resist a Christmas cookie." So says Sam Gugino, who has written a loving ode to them, complete with plenty of tips and recipes. And here are three more cookie recipes for holiday bakers who love to share:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pistachio Spice Cookies
Lora Brody's Rugelach
(Rugelach recipe courtesy of Rose Levy Beranbaum, from her book Rose's Christmas Cookies, published by William Morrow & Company)

Desserts for the Table

  Citrus marmalade tart.
Try these desserts for when your holiday entertaining plans are more black-tie than bathrobe.

Citrus Marmalade Tart
Honey Wine Poached Figs
Poached Pineapple with Pineapple Chips and Vanilla Ice Cream

Cakes and Sweet Breads

These confections are great for giving as gifts, or just keeping around the house for your own snacking pleasure.

Coffee Hazelnut Cake
Pumpkin Gingerbread
Sherried Nut Raisin Cake
Warm Chocolate Cake

Can't get enough cake? Read Sam Gugino's thoughts on chocolate cake and fruitcake, and Harvey Steiman and Jacques Torres on decadent desserts (including more great recipes) and wines.

Finally, if you're looking for something to sip with these desserts (or your family favorites), check out these suggestions from the Wine Spectator database. Happy holidays!

Wine Score Price
THE ROYAL TOKAJI WINE CO. Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos Red Label 2000 93 $32 / 500ml
Alluring aromas of gingersnap cookies, apricot and orange marmalade. Sweet, yet deftly balanced by lively structure. Fine lingering finish, where the harmony really shows. Drink now through 2020. 26,000 cases made. From Hungary. —B.S.
KONZELMANN Vidal Niagara Peninsula Ice Wine 2002 91 $50 / 375ml
Very tasty, exhibiting candied berry, dried apricot and mandarin orange notes framed by a lively structure. Developing nicely, it appears to have plenty in reserve. Drink now through 2012. 4,000 cases made. From Canada. —B.S.
CAMPBELLS Tokay Rutherglen NV 89 $19 / 375ml
Sweet, pale and almost Sherry-like in color. Not as rich and dark as some versions, with pretty spice and light cherry flavors that sing delicately through the generous finish. Drink now. 1,500 cases imported. From Australia. —H.S.
LÓPEZ HERMANOS Pedro Ximénez Málaga Virgen NV 89 $17
A lighter style of Pedro Ximénez, exhibiting walnut, raisin and dried berry aromas and flavors on a spirity base. Fairly well-balanced overall, with an attractive finish. Drink now. 10,000 cases made. From Spain. —B.S.
Forward with fig and quince flavors, this also shows lime and green almond notes which add range to the finish. Drink now through 2008. 10,000 cases made. From France. —J.M.
D. KOURTAKIS Muscat Samos Kourtaki NV 86 $10
Fresh and off-dry, with orange peel and tea leaf notes mixed in with pear and ripe apple flavors. Drink now. 300,000 cases made. From Greece. —K.M.
G.D. VAJRA Moscato d'Asti 2004 85 $17
Pleasant, with fresh lemon and mineral character. Fresh and frothy on the palate, with a clean-cut mineral finish. Drink now. 2,000 cases made. From Italy.

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