Delectable Desserts for Holiday Celebrations

(Family Features)

With so many traditions and ways to celebrate the holiday season, the options are nearly endless for families looking to spend special moments together. One of the tastiest and most enjoyable activities you can engage in with family and friends is to team up and create sweet eats in the kitchen.

Whether you’re a chocolate lover or prefer traditional seasonal flavors like peppermint and gingerbread, these tasty, dairy-inspired treats from Milk Means More provide heartwarming ways to tingle your taste buds while bringing everyone together.

Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding provides a sweet, fruity, hearty dessert while Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies combine chocolatey goodness with creamy cheesecake and peppermint. Or, for a classic holiday combination, you can turn to Gingerbread Cupcakes with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream.

Find more ways to celebrate the season with sweet eats at

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

Recipe courtesy of Sarah Bates of “The Chef Next Door” on behalf of Milk Means More

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 16

                        Nonstick cooking spray

Cheesecake Batter:

            8          ounces low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

            1/3       cup granulated sugar

            1/2       teaspoon peppermint extract

            2          eggs

            1          tablespoon all-purpose flour

Brownie Batter:

            1          cup all-purpose flour

            1/2       cup cocoa powder

            1/2       teaspoon salt

            1          cup granulated sugar

            1/4       cup vegetable oil

            1/4       cup milk

            2          eggs

            1          teaspoon pure vanilla extract


            1/2       cup peppermint baking pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

To make cheesecake batter: Place cream cheese in bowl of stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and peppermint extract; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and beat mixture until blended.

To make brownie batter: In medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder and salt until combined. In separate bowl, whisk sugar, oil, milk, eggs and vanilla until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until blended.

Pour brownie batter evenly into prepared pan. Carefully pour cheesecake batter over top, spreading evenly. Carefully swirl layers together using knife tip. Bake 20 minutes.

Sprinkle top of brownies with peppermint baking pieces and bake 10 minutes until brownies are set. Cool brownies completely in pan on wire rack before cutting into 16 squares.

Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding

Recipe courtesy of Kirsten Kubert of “Comfortably Domestic” on behalf of Milk Means More

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 65 minutes

Servings: 12


            1          loaf Texas toast or day-old bread

            1-2       tablespoons softened butter

            1 1/2    cups fresh cranberries

            6          eggs

            3/4       cup granulated sugar

            3 1/2    cups 2% milk

            1          teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

            1/4       cup fresh orange juice

            1/4       cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

            1 1/2    teaspoons vanilla extract

            1/8       teaspoon ground cinnamon

            1 1/2    tablespoons coarse granulated sugar (optional)

Orange Custard Sauce:

            3          egg yolks

            1/4       cup granulated sugar

            1          cup half-and-half

            1/2       teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

To make pudding: Cut bread into bite-sized cubes. If bread is soft and fresh, place cubes on half sheet pan and let stand at room temperature overnight to dry out.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Grease 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish with softened butter. Place bread cubes in prepared baking pan. Scatter cranberries over bread.

Beat eggs with sugar, milk, orange zest, orange juice, melted butter, vanilla and cinnamon until well blended. Pour evenly over bread and cranberries to coat. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake 60-65 minutes, or until custard is set and edges of bread are browned.

To make orange custard sauce: In small saucepan, whisk egg yolks with sugar until lightened to pale yellow color, about 2 minutes. Stir half-and-half into mixture until combined. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, 15-20 minutes, or until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon. Stir orange zest into custard sauce.

Serve bread pudding with warm custard sauce over top.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Whipped Vanilla Buttercream

Recipe courtesy of Megan Gundy of “What Megan’s Making” on behalf of Milk Means More

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Servings: 20


            1 1/2    cups all-purpose flour

            1 1/2    tablespoons ground ginger

            2          teaspoons ground cinnamon

            1/4       teaspoon ground cloves

            1/2       teaspoon ground nutmeg

            1/2       teaspoon salt

            1 1/2    cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

            1 1/2    cups granulated sugar

            3          tablespoons molasses

            4          large eggs

            2          teaspoons vanilla extract

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream:

            1          cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

            2          teaspoons vanilla extract

            4          cups powdered sugar

            2-4       tablespoons heavy whipping cream

            1          pinch salt

                        cinnamon, for topping

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

To make cupcakes: In medium bowl, whisk flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.

In large bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add molasses and beat until incorporated. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center cupcake comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Let cupcakes cool 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

To make whipped vanilla buttercream: In large bowl of stand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and, with mixer on low, slowly add in powdered sugar, cream and salt, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Once incorporated, whip frosting at least 3 minutes on medium-high or high speed. If frosting is too thick, gradually beat in additional cream. Pipe on top of cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with cinnamon.