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Make Quick Holiday Desserts Using Shortcut Ingredients

Here's how to whip up party-ready treats in a flash using shortcut ingredients from the grocery store. Each quick recipe idea starts with a ready-made base such as frozen pound cake or puff pastry and quickly transforms it into a festive dessert you'd be proud to serve to guests. You'll spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the holidays. Cheers!

Pound Cake

Start with a simple frozen pound cake, or pick one up from a grocery store bakery. Then add a little of this and a little of that, and you'll have a fancy looking dessert in minutes.

1. Quick Tiramisu

Slice pound cake into 1-inch-thick slices. Line a large glass bowl with half of the cake slices. Combine ¾ cup brewed espresso and ½ cup coffee liquor; drizzle half over cake. Combine eight ounces mascarpone cheese, ¼ cup confectioners' sugar, and one pint whipped cream. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over cake. Repeat layering the coffee mixture and finish with the mascarpone. Decorate with curls of chocolate (optional) and dust with cocoa powder just before serving.

Tiramisu

Photo by Meredith

2. Pound Cake à la Mode

Heat three peeled and sliced apples in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons butter, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 cup apple cider; cook until reduced by half. Layer 2 slices of cake on dessert plates and top with a scoop of rum raisin ice cream and warm apple topping.

3. Chocolate Fondue

Cut half of a frozen pound cake into bite-sized cubes. You'll also need 24 strawberries, four sliced bananas, and two sectioned oranges. Divide fruit and cake onto plates. Place two bowls of warmed chocolate sauce on the table and dip in! Try this easy recipe for Chocolate Bar Fondue.


Find the perfect Pound Cake Recipe


Frozen Puff Pastry

Frozen puff pastry shells or cups are an absolute must for super-quick desserts that look like a million bucks. Begin by baking the pastry according to the package directions, then try these ideas:

4. Fruit Tarts

Cream together 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Pipe into pastry shells. Top with fresh fruit. In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup orange juice. Boil for 1 minute. Let cool completely and brush over fruit for a high-gloss glaze. For an even quicker prep, top the cream cheese mixture with your choice of pie filling.

Puff Pastry Fruit Tarts

Puff Pastry Fruit Tarts | Photo by Meredith

5. No-bake Cheesecake

Whip together 16 ounces cream cheese, one teaspoon vanilla, and ¼ cup sugar until creamy. Pipe or spoon into pastry shells. Warm 1 cup raspberry preserves. Fill each pastry with cheese mixture, then top with preserves.

6. Mock Chocolate Macadamia Pie

Prepare one package instant chocolate pudding and fold in ¾ cup chopped macadamia nuts. Fill pastry with pudding. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and remaining nuts.


Get easy tips for working with frozen puff pastry.


Cookies and Ice Cream

7. Ice Cream Sandwich Sundaes

Place a chocolate chip cookie in a small dessert bowl. Top with one scoop of ice cream and another cookie. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and top with whipped cream, chopped nuts, and a cherry.

Cookies and Sundae

Photo by Meredith

These super-simple desserts combine cookies and ice creams or sorbet to make creamy, satisfying treats.

8. Sorbet Parfait

Layer three scoops of different flavored sorbet in parfait glasses. Splash one tablespoon Grand Marnier or other liqueur over each serving and top with a cookie.

Soften one pint of French vanilla ice cream. Fill large wine glasses with ¾ cup frozen mixed berries. Finely crush enough vanilla wafers to make one cup. Top berries with ice cream and crushed cookies and serve.

Bonus Tip: Lots of baked goods can be prepared and tucked away in the freezer. Make 'em ahead, and you’ll never be short of treats for last-minute holiday guests. Get tips for freezing cookies and cookie dough.


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