These Elegant Christmas Desserts Promise to Be the Star of Your Holiday Meal

overhead view of Cheesecake with Cranberry Glaze and Sugared Cranberries recipe
Photo: LauraF

Christmas might just be the one time of year where we go way over the top for dessert. These showstoppers might get even more selfies than your tree! And just because they'll impress a crowd, it doesn't mean you have to spend all day or buy special equipment to make them (Baked Alaskas and trifles, we love you). The best way to turn up the elegance here is to start with great ingredients, take time with decorating, and don't shy away from decadence. After all, those New Year's resolutions don't start for a few more days, right?

01 of 16

Bûche de Noël

Buche de Noel

Call this Christmas dessert by its French name, Bûche de Noël, and make your holiday even classier. After the cake is filled and rolled, spread with ganache or keep it simple with a snowfall of powdered sugar.

02 of 16

Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake

Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake
Allrecipes Community

Some cakes need lots of bells and whistles to be elegant, but not this decadent chocolate cake. "I took this to a holiday party filled with foodies and everyone loved it," says Allrecipes user debbie. A little instant espresso makes the chocolate taste even more chocolaty.

03 of 16

Paula's Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Close up photo of layered pumpkin gingerbread trifle with a large serving spoon alongside.

If Christmas for you means gingerbread and lots of it, this is your dessert. Crumbled gingerbread cake gets layered with pumpkin pie pudding and whipped topping (or whipped cream) and sprinkled with crumbled gingersnap cookies.

04 of 16

Jenny's Black Forest Cake

Jenny's Black Forest Cake on a white cake plate

"This recipe is from a friend of my mother's," says recipe contrutor REB_99. "She used it for catering and has won the hearts of most who've tasted it. I've had to share this recipe with everyone who's been to one of my parties. Serve with whipped cream if desired."

05 of 16

Brandied Cherry Clafouti

Brandied Cherry Clafouti

Think of clafoutis like a fancy French pancake. The batter is slightly custardy, and the whole thing is studded with brandy-soaked canned cherries. The fruit cake might just have some stiff competition this year.

06 of 16

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake
chibi chef

When dessert looks like a work of art, you know you have a worthy finale to your Christmas dinner. "It didn't last more than 24 hours, which is saying a lot since there were about 20 other desserts available," says aprileyer.

07 of 16

Baked Alaska Dessert

Baked Alaska Dessert

Ice cream in winter is totally acceptable with this centerpiece Baked Alaska. Starting with graham cracker crumbs and store-bought ice cream leaves you plenty of time to make snowy white swirls with the meringue.

08 of 16

Italian Cream Cake II

Italian Cream Cake decorated with chopped nuts and cherries

"This is my new favorite cake! Followed the recipe exactly except I made 1.5 times the amount of icing the original amount just wasn't enough to generously ice three layers of cake. Next time I may reduce the coconut just a personal preference but it was delicious!" — Joy

09 of 16

Christmas Plum Pudding

a steamed pudding with blue flame, garnished with a holly sprig
"Steamed Christmas Pudding ablaze. My Steamed Christmas Pudding has become a tradition on Christmas for my family.". Cooking-n-MS

You cannot beat the classics at Christmas time, and this one dates back as far as medieval England. "I presented this pudding at the Christmas dinner table last year and my family were amazed — to this day they think I'm a culinary genius!" says DTB8.

10 of 16

Cheesecake with Cranberry Glaze and Sugared Cranberries

overhead view of Cheesecake with Cranberry Glaze and Sugared Cranberries recipe

Carrie Hunter only had one word for this stunning dessert: "Amazing." A silky smooth cheesecake gets a lift from fresh orange zest and a beautiful finish with a fresh cranberry glaze and sugared cranberries.

11 of 16

Eggnog Crème Brulée

Eggnog Creme Brulee
Kim's Cooking Now

The boozy, eggy, creamy holiday drink couldn't be a better fit for this classic French custard. You can make these a couple days ahead and refrigerate, then top with sugar and brûlée just before serving.

12 of 16

Salted Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Truffles

Salted Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Truffles
Matt Wencl

Stuffed from Christmas dinner? Instead of another wedge of cake, try ending the evening with these decadent chocolate truffles, filled with Nutella and finished with sea salt. Then send a few home as a gift.

13 of 16

Mini Christmas Cakes

cupcake-sized fruitcakes decorated with smooth royal icing and snowflake designs

"This recipe makes enough for 24 luxurious mini fruitcakes," says recipe creator Ita. "They make a thoughtful Christmas gift for neighbors, work colleagues or teachers, or as part of a gift basket. You can decorate them differently by making one for each family member which makes it a lot more fun."

14 of 16

White Chocolate Cheesecake with White Chocolate Brandy Sauce

White Chocolate Cheesecake with White Chocolate Brandy Sauce

Many reviewers loved this beautiful cheesecake. Luna1937 got an added bonus: "My husband had a holiday bake off at his work and the winner got a day off of work. It won!" We can think of no higher praise.

15 of 16

Rose Pavlova Cakes

Rose Pavlova Cakes with rose petal topping

These rose-flavored mini pavlovas are the delicate sugar plum fairies your Christmas dessert display needs. Recipe contributor Mydreamfeathers says, "You can store them in an airtight container for several days (without whipping cream) and decorate them whenever you want."

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