A festive December

Published 11:57 am Thursday, December 8, 2022

December is a festive month. It’s a time for family gatherings, tree trimmings, joyful parties, and caroling sing-alongs during the cheery, winter Christmas holidays. It’s “chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Silent Night.”


Linda: When planning a merry, holiday event, deciding on the foods to serve can be a challenge. If it’s an “open house” maybe hors d’oeuvres will be the main offering. A get-together with a complete meal might be more challenging. But whatever the happening, dessert is always a popular dish.

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Lucy: Thanksgiving is all about pumpkin and apple pie. December celebrations call for “ooh and ahhh” types of desserts. The grocery bakeries will have special offerings, but it’s more fun to create your own fancy recipe that tastes as good as it looks.


Linda: Cookies, of course, are always plentiful this time of year. A platter of different favorites could serve as dessert for an open house or a morning coffee group. A fussy, intricate creation would be a challenge for me and many other busy cooks at this time of year.


Lucy: A recipe might look difficult but the trick is to discover recipes that are showy but are easy and delicious. We could start with a Southern Living Eggnog Pound Cake. It’s simple and can appear decorative on a tray adorned with some pine cones and evergreen.


Linda: I did see a recipe for a chocolate peppermint cake using a cake mix. I’m sure I could manage that. It calls for some crushed peppermint. Hard candy can get sticky and runny in humid, southern climates. I would recommend crushing some of the soft peppermints that you can find in the drugstore. It’s more conducive to the humidity.


Lucy: A recipe for some raspberry cheesecake bars is a little more challenging but still not difficult. The raspberry swirled through the cheesecake will enhance a candlelit Christmas dinner party. 


Linda: Let’s start with the effortless Eggnog Pound Cake. It will be perfect for any event from brunch to a banquet. I know that this recipe will be my “go-to” offering.


Southern Living December Eggnog Pound Cake



Perfect for holiday entertaining, you can also toast a few slices and top with jam or preserves for breakfast.


Hands-On: 15 mins  Total: 2 hrs 25 mins


Yield: Makes 12 servings



1 (16-oz.) package of pound cake mix

1 ¼ cups eggnog

2 large eggs

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat all ingredients together at low speed with an electric mixer until blended. Increase speed to medium, and beat 2 minutes. Pour into a lightly greased 9- x 5-inch loaf pan.
  2. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).


Chocolate-Candy Cane Cake



16 Servings



1 pkg. (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix

1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding

4 eggs

1 container (8 oz.) sour cream

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup milk

3 oz. Semi-Sweet chocolate chips

Coarsely crushed soft peppermint candy (about 1 cup), divided

1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed



Heat oven to 350°F.

  1. Beat first 7 ingredients in large bowl with mixer until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and 2 Tbsp. crushed candy. Pour into 2 (9-inch) round pans sprayed with cooking spray.
  2. Bake 35 to 40 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min. Loosen cakes from sides of pans; invert onto wire racks. Carefully remove pans. Cool cakes completely.
  3. Fill and frost cakes with COOL WHIP. Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy just before serving. Keep refrigerated.


Raspberry Cheesecake Bars



Total Time: Prep: 30 min. Bake: 35 min. + chilling Yield: 2 dozen.



1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cold butter

1 jar (12 ounces) seedless raspberry jam, divided

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs, lightly beaten


1-1/2 cups sour cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press onto the bottom of a greased 13×9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° until lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  2. Set aside 3 tablespoons jam; spread remaining jam over crust.
  3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in lemon zest and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Spread evenly over jam. Bake until almost set, 20-25 minutes.
  4. In another bowl, combine the sour cream, sugar and vanilla; spread over cheesecake. Warm remaining jam and swirl over top. Bake just until set, 5-7 minutes.
  5. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into bars.