Holiday Beauties

Though the focus of celebratory holiday meals tends to be the large, protein-heavy, Norman Rockwell-esque roasts that are dramatically presented and carved at the table, I love the elaborate desserts we tend to wait for special occasions to justify making. Beyond that, it’s nice to have a special dessert made only at a specific time of year, building on the nostalgia that drives so many of our dining decisions at this time of year.

Here are three recipes that can be prepped ahead, and require at most a minimal last-minute assembly, but are likely to generate an enthusiastic response table-side, no matter how full everyone is from dinner.

Check out the other recipes in our holiday edition: Sunken Chocolate Cake with Berry Fool and Upside-down Pear Gingerbread!


Lamingtons are a classic Australian dessert –squares of white cake dipped in ganache and rolled in coconut, giving them a snowy look that makes them well suited to individual servings.
Servings 9 squares
Author Julie Van Rosendaal



  • 1/2 cup butter, softened, 125 ml
  • 1 cup sugar, 250 ml
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla, 5ml
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 325 ml
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 8 ml
  • 1/4 tsp salt, 1 ml
  • 1/2 cup milk, 125 ml

Chocolate ganache

  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream, 250 ml
  • 1 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips (about 1/2 lb), 250 ml


  • 2 cups shredded coconut, for coating, 500 ml


  • Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F)
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and light; add the egg and vanilla and beat until well blended and smooth.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add half to the butter mixture, beating on low speed just to combine. Beat in the milk and then the remaining flour mixture, beating on low speed until well blended.
  • Pour into a parchment-lined 9x9-inch pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Let cool completely.
  • When you’re ready to coat the cake, cut it into 9 squares. To make the chocolate ganache, heat the cream until steaming; pour over the chocolate chips in a bowl and let sit for a minute, then whisk until smooth adding more cream if mixture is too thick to dip.
  • Place the coconut in a shallow dish. Dip each square into the warmed ganache to coat, then dunk it into the coconut to coat all over. Transfer to a tray or wire rack to set.