Food

Christmas cakes, cookies and pies: Holiday desserts to make now

'Tis the season for sweets! Whether you're baking for a cookie swap or building a dessert spread for your upcoming holiday dinner, here are treats that'll wow friends, family and coworkers.

RELATED: 7 delicious cookies that will help you win your cookie swap

COOKIES

Grace Parisi / TODAY

1. Ultimate Sugar Cookies

Cookies, rolled and cut into holiday shapes and festively decorated are essential at the Christmas. These are fantastically delicious and easy to bake. Plus decorating them is a snap.

Brian Kennedy

2. Gingersnaps with Lemon Sugar

These glorious and simple cookies are chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside and covered in a splendid lemon-scented sugar. It is also worth mentioning that it is a mixer-free recipe. All you need is your hands, a bowl or two, and a few minutes.

RELATED: How to avoid the most common cookie mistakes

Brian Kennedy

3. Traditional Linzer Cookies

A holiday dessert platter without a Linzer cookie is a travesty. It's like Easter without a bunny, Halloween without a jack-o'-lantern, Valentine's Day without chocolate. In short, Linzer cookies are necessary come December. Not only are they quite beautiful-the jam windowpane feature is all shimmery elegance--but the taste is always pleasing. Simple. Addictive.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

4. Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

To take chocolate chip cookies to the next level, follow in the footsteps of T-Rex Cookies in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they add caramel bits to the dough and finish each treat with a pinch of sea salt.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

5. Christina Tosi's 4-Ingredient Cutout Cookies

Butter, flour, salt and brown sugar are all you need to make these festive cookies.

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Bake the perfect sugar cookie: Mark Bittman shows how

Play Video - 3:39

Bake the perfect sugar cookie: Mark Bittman shows how

Play Video - 3:39
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

6. Christina Tosi's Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Peppermint Cookies

Crushed candy canes add a minty flavor and chewy texture to these over-the-top cookies.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

7. Brown Sugar Butterscotch Cookies

Baker Allison Carlock of The Crumbling Cookie in Fort Irwin, California adds brown sugar to her amazing butterscotch cookies for an extra layer of flavor.

Matt Lewis

8. Exceedingly Chocolaty Crinkles

Slightly firm on the outside. Melt-in-your mouth goodness on the inside. Enough said.

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TODAY anchors share their favorite treats for Holiday Cookie Swap

Play Video - 5:00

TODAY anchors share their favorite treats for Holiday Cookie Swap

Play Video - 5:00
Alice Choi / Hip Foodie Mom

9. Double Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies

A double dose of holiday cheer goes into these chocolate-studded cookies from Alice C. of Hip Foodie Mom: there's peppermint extract in the dough and crushed peppermint candies in the frosting.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

10. German Chocolate Cookies

These chewy treats from Sherry's Sweets in Tooele, Utah are topped with a decadent coconut and pecan-studded frosting.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

11. Chocolate Chip Cookies

To get the perfect crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside texture, baker Cailey Anne Buck of Cailey Anne Cookies in College Station, Texas pulls these out of the oven early and lets them finish baking in the pan.

Joanie Zisk / ZagLeft

12. Sicilian Fig Cookies

This sprinkle-covered treat is a classic Christmastime snack in Italy that Joanie Z. of ZagLeft makes year after year.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

13. Snickerdoodle Cookies

These classic sugar- and cinnamon-sprinkled cookies from Cookie Cart in Minneapolis, Minnesota have the perfect balance of chewy to crispy.

The Foodie Affair

14. Mexican Wedding Cookies

The crumbly, butter cookies by Sandra S. of The Foodie Affair are rolled in powder sugar and resemble miniature snowballs.

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Make cornflake-chocolate chip-peppermint cookies for Christmas

Play Video - 2:49

Make cornflake-chocolate chip-peppermint cookies for Christmas

Play Video - 2:49
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

15. White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookies

Tom's Mom's Cookies in Harbor Springs, Michigan adds peppermint in addition to white chocolate chips to make a treat that's perfect for holiday cookie swaps.

Donna S.

16. Auntie Anna's Christmas Cookies

The holidays wouldn't be complete without a platter of Christmas cookies. Donna S. has revived her godmother's recipe, which calls for sour cream to keep the cookies moist, plus orange juice and zest in the frosting for an extra punch of flavor.

Taylor Kiser

17. Sugar Twists

Taylor K. of Food Faith Fitness keeps her beautiful holiday cookies healthy by using whole wheat flour and plain Greek yogurt.

RELATED: How to make and decorate the ultimate sugar cookies

CAKES

SETON ROSSINI / Sweet Envy: Deceptively Easy Desserts, Designed to Steal the Show

18. Coconut Bliss Cake

This gorgeous over-the-top coconut cake with gooey chocolate frosting is a deconstructed take on Almond Joy candy bars.

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How to make magic cake, the latest baking sensation

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How to make magic cake, the latest baking sensation

Play Video - 1:33
Casey Barber

19. The Cherpumple

This towering six-layer cake is made with cherry pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, chocolate cake, yellow cake and spice cake.

Christen in the Kitchen

20. Gingerbread Bundt Cake

Impress guests at upcoming parties with this stunning bundt cake. Christen G. of Christen in the Kitchen adds ample doses of winter spices along with dark molasses and Guinness stout to deepen the gingerbread flavor.

Janette Fuschi / Culinary Ginger

21. Yule Log

Janette F. of Culinary Ginger fashioned a gorgeous buche de Noel by layering shattered pieces of chocolate onto a homemade Swiss roll. The finishing touch? A dusting of powdered sugar to mimic freshly-fallen snow.

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How to Make a Rainbow Heart Cake

Play Video - 0:39

How to Make a Rainbow Heart Cake

Play Video - 0:39
Tara Donne / Courtesy of Ice Box Cakes, Chronicle Books

22. Chocolate-Mint Icebox Cake

This seven-ingredient dessert is made from layers of thin store-bought cookies and whipped cream. After the cake sits in the fridge for 24 hours, the cookies absorb the moisture from the whipped cream, turning it into a luscious delight.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

23. Spiced Apple Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Star chef Giada De Laurentiis's moist apple cake with cream cheese icing has all the flavors of classic apple pie—minus the tricky pie crust!

Pamela Salzman

24. Grain-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This delicious dessert is extra moist thanks to the addition of zucchini.

Leigh Beisch; Getty Images

25. 5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

This dessert also makes a great holiday gift when the dry ingredients are packaged with a mug along with the recipe instructions.

TODAY

26. Peanut Butter Cake

Al Roker's double-layer cake is a peanut butter lover's dream.

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Banana blondie-bottomed cheesecake is sure to please

Play Video - 3:33

Banana blondie-bottomed cheesecake is sure to please

Play Video - 3:33
Blueberry Bliss Cheesecake

27. Blueberry Bliss Cheesecake

The base of this creamy lightened version of the classic dessert is made with fat-free cream cheese and fat-free yogurt. Macerated frozen blueberries are the perfect healthy finishing touch.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

28. Cake Mix Coffee Cake

Using store-bought yellow cake mix is the the secret behind this fast and easy crowd-pleasing dish.

PIES AND TARTS

Shutterstock

29. Patti LaBelle's Sweet Potato Pie

Singer Patti LaBelle learned this pie recipe from her best friend and hairstylist Norma Gordon Harris. This sweet potato pie has a thin layer of brown sugar on the bottom crust. This "black bottom" doesn't just add flavor, it also helps keep the filling from making the crust soggy.

Keiko Oikawa

30. Nigella Lawson's Salted Chocolate Tart

Chocolate cookies form the base of this decadent dessert and the hit of salt is crucial: it subtly counters the richness of all the chocolate.

Grace Parisi / TODAY

31. Chocolate Pecan Pie

It's like a pecan pie-brownie hybrid—if that doesn't make you swoon, we don't know what will.

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Devil's cream pie: This recipe is delicious and simple to make!

Play Video - 4:50

Devil's cream pie: This recipe is delicious and simple to make!

Play Video - 4:50
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

32. Spiced Apple-Cranberry Lattice Pie

Cranberries add tangy flavor and a gorgeous holiday color to classic apple pie from star chef Curtis Stone.

33. Bourbon Pecan Pie with Whipped Cream

Molasses and a splash of booze add extra depth of flavor to this custardy pecan pie by star chef Curtis Stone.

Casey Barber

34. Maple Cream Pie

It's got the same creamy texture as pumpkin pie and the same simple stir-and-bake assembly as its more famous friend.

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Caramel apple pie: Gesine Bullock-Prado’s perfect pie with butter dough

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Caramel apple pie: Gesine Bullock-Prado’s perfect pie with butter dough

Play Video - 2:50
TODAY

35. Brownie Bottom Peanut Butter Pie

If you're tired of serving the same old apple pie on Christmas, try Brandi Malloy's brownie bottom peanut butter pie for a decadent change.

Maria Lichty / Two Peas & Their Pod

36. Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

Don't have a ton of time to whip up dessert? This pumpkin pie from Maria L. of Two Peas & Their Pod looks ultra-fancy, but only takes five ingredients and you can easily cut down on time by using a store-bought crust.

Tanner Brown / Mr. Housewife

37. Gluten-Free Pecan Pie

To make a gluten-free version of his mom's pecan pie, Tanner B. of Mr. Housewife swaps in almond flour, plus coconut oil, milk and sugar.

TODAY

38. Curtis Stone's Homemade Pumpkin Pie

Because who says pumpkin pie is just for Thanksgiving?

Casey Barber

39. Muffin Tin Fruit Pies

Make these fun four-bite pies completely from scratch with a simple pie crust that comes together easily in the food processor, or save a few minutes with store-bought pie dough. You can use apples, blueberries, peaches or even cherries in this recipe. Any way you slice it, it's going to be delicious.

TODAY

40. Nigella Lawson's Bitter Orange Tart

Crumbled gingersnap cookies form the base of this sophisticated holiday dessert.

Vidya Rao/TODAY

41. Natalie Morales' Rustic Apple Galette

The beauty of this easy dessert is that it doesn't have to be perfect--it's rustic, after all! It's also easy to customize. You can make it with any fruit or even go for a savory version to serve for brunch. For the dough, CHILLED ingredients are key. It may sound crazy, but if you chill your flour in addition to the vinegar and butter prior to mixing, it's even better!

Debi Traub / Simple Beautiful Eating

42. Meyer Lemon Chiffon Tart

Citrus season is at its peak during the winter. Debi T. of Simply Beautiful Eating turns pucker-y Meyer lemons into a light, silky pudding that sits on top of a graham cracker crust. She finished the creamy pie with blueberries, but you can swap in other seasonal fruits.

RELATED: 9 decadent pie and tart recipes

OTHER

SETON ROSSINI / Sweet Envy: Deceptively Easy Desserts, Designed to Steal the Show

43. Mint Chocolate Trifle

This decadent dessert calls for layers of mint chocolate pudding, chocolate crumbles and mint whipped cream.

Grace Parisi / TODAY

44. Tiramisu Parfaits

Come dessert time, serving individual glasses of tiramisu is a piece of cake (well not literally). Not only will these impress your guests, but everyone is guaranteed to get one!

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

45. Slow-Cooker Triple Chocolate Brownies

If you think it's impossible to improve on the basic brownie, try this recipe. Trust us.

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Chocolate chip cookie dough pots, Nutella brownies from Nigella Lawson

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Chocolate chip cookie dough pots, Nutella brownies from Nigella Lawson

Play Video - 4:07
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

46. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pots

Star chef Nigella Lawson's children love chocolate chip cookies that are so gooey on the inside that she can't really make the outside firm enough to let the cookies keep integrity of form. This, then, is the solution: a cookie dough you bake in a little dish, and then eat with a spoon, dolloped with ice cream or crème fraîche as desired.

Katie Clark

47. Peppermint Fudge

This easy, minty fudge has stood the test of time — the recipe shared by Katie C. of Clarks Condensed has been passed down for three generations!

Find more festive sweets on our Pinterest holiday dessert board!

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