The best holiday dessert cookbooks

Dec 2, 2011 at 10:05 a.m. ET

If your usual Christmas cookie recipes are getting stale and your go-to baked goods have left you uninspired, it’s time to feast your eyes on drool-worthy, gorgeously-illustrated, recipe-plumped cookbooks that get you excited to get in the kitchen. Here are the best holiday dessert cookbooks featuring a delicious array of dessert recipes such as cookies, gingerbread, pies, pastries and cakes.

Taste of Home Baking Book, All New Edition: 725+ Recipes & Variations from Classics to Best Loved!Taste of Home Baking Book, All New Edition: 725+ Recipes & Variations from Classics to Best Loved!

If you want a baking book that carries you through the year, you've got to get your hands on the newly revised Taste of Home Baking Book (Taste of Home Books, September 2011). This beautiful ring-bound, hardcover cookbook features 786 recipes (more than 90 percent of them brand new!) and 730 full-color photographs. Recipes include brownies, cookies, pies, breads, bars and cheesecakes including inspirations for all-new cupcakes, "almost homemade" creations, lightened-up favorites and holiday treats. Every recipe reflects the ever-changing palate of Americans, since they are submitted by real home chefs nationwide and are test-kitchen guaranteed to rise to any occasion. Best yet, get the cookbook and you'll also receive a free year subscription to Taste of Home magazine.

Holiday CupcakesHoliday Cupcakes

Aren't decorated cupcakes a fun and fancy alternative to a big cake? Baking queen Annie Rigg thinks so and presents 25 gorgeous and achievable cupcake ideas in her Christmas-themed book Holiday Cupcakes (Ryland Peters & Small, September 2011). Whether you're hosting a dessert party or need a baked good for a holiday gathering, Rigg's cupcakes will impress. Fill your home with warm aromas from gingerbread men-topped cupcakes, make a basket of adorable snowmen cupcakes complete with marzipan noses and ribbon scarves, decorate cupcakes with frosting poinsettias and top cupcakes with miniature gifts or edible glass stars.

Biscuiteers Book of Iced CookiesBiscuiteers Book of Iced Cookies

Super fun for any holiday or any day you want to create edible art, the Biscuiteers Book of Iced Cookies (Kyle Books, October 2011) by Harriet Hastings and Sarah Moore will show you how to make a tasty variety of basic cookie doughs and then guide you through the different types of icings and coloring, piping techniques and DIY templates for artfully shaped cookies, including Christmas ornaments, snowmen, sleighs, reindeer, snowflakes and more. The book also features decorating instructions for animals, fashion, sports, ocean, insects, flowers and every major holiday. Hastings and Moore even give you cookie packaging tips to stylishly share your decorated goodies.

One Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite RecipesOne Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes

Author Tracy Zabar has never met a cookie she didn't like and has hosted a cookie exchange at her house for years just so she can satisfy her cookie addiction. Her passion for cookies gave rise to her delectable cookbook One Sweet Cookie (Rizzoli, October 2011), which not only features Zabar's beloved family recipes but also cookie recipes (and sweet anecdotes) from some of the country's most renowned chefs and bakers. Recipes include Zabar's Whoppie Pies, Mario Batali's Crazy Cowboy Cookies, Marcus Samuelsson's Ginger Citrus Cookies, and Lidia Bastianich's Orange Cookies just to name a mouthwatering few. One Sweet Cookie is the perfect resource for your own conversation-starting cookie recipes for exchanges, gifts and gatherings.

Perfect Pies: The Best Sweet and Savory Pies from America's Pie Baking ChampionPerfect Pies: The Best Sweet and Savory Pies from America's Pie Baking Champion

Written by Michele Stuart, who has won 26 National Pie Championship awards, Perfect Pies (Ballantine, September 2011) is your go-to book for gorgeously-illustrated, updated recipes for your favorite holiday pies. For your sweet tooth, bake up Stuart's Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie, Eggnog Pie, or Chiffon Pumpkin Pie. Need savory pies to feed a hungry holiday crowd? Try the Lobster Pot Pie, Quiche Lorraine or Italian Wheat Pie. If you're a pie novice, Perfect Pies will help you finesse your pie skills to make amazingly light and flaky crusts and combine top quality ingredients for can't-be-beat pie fillings. You can even treat yourself to Stuart's freshly baked pies at her world-famous shop, Michele's Pies in Norwalk and Westport, Connecticut.

The Gingerbread BookThe Gingerbread Book

The Gingerbread Book (Skyhorse, October 2011) by Allen D. Bragdon is a massive celebration of the oldest and most beloved sweet, spicy and comforting holiday treats. Bragdon shares 54 cookie-construction projects for party centerpieces and holiday decorations, 117 full-sized patterns, plans for 18 structures, over 100 color photos, recipes, cookie shapes, children's projects, history and step-by-step how-tos. This holiday baking book has you covered for Christmas as well as other holidays throughout the year. The Gingerbread Book is suitable for all ages and skill levels, from no-bake kids' activities to elaborate gingerbread constructions for challenge-ready bakers. This is a great book to use for snowy day fun with your family.

Austrian Desserts and Pastries: 108 Classic RecipesAustrian Desserts and Pastries: 108 Classic Recipes

Pull out your bakeware, open up Austrian Desserts and Pastries (Skyhorse, November 2011) and let pastry chefs Dietmar Fercher and Andrea Karrer teach you how to create light as air souffles, crunchy caramel cookies, Bundt cakes, chocolate tortes, Schnitten, mousse and dozens of other classic Austrian dessert recipes. Sophisticated and diverse, this holiday-perfect cookbook features Pumpkin Strudel with Cinnamon Sauce, Apple Crumble Cake, Chestnut Terrine and Stuffed Pears, all of which will easily delight everyone on your holiday guest and gift lists.

Mini Pies: Adorably Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite TreatsMini Pies: Adorably Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats

Do you love the taste of pie but prefer the cute size of a cupcake? Are you in need of some fresh ideas for holiday appetizers? Then toss the pie pan, grab your muffin tin and open Mini Pies (Ulysses Press, October 2011) by Christy Beaver and Morgan Greenseth! With delicious recipes, easy-to-follow instructions and stunning color photographs, Mini Pies provides everything you need to bake these adorable miniature desserts with uber professional results. Featuring gourmet recipes for a range of fruit, custard, nut and savory delights, Beaver and Greenseth serve up directions for enviable crusts and hold in-your-hand, single-serving versions of apple, cherry, pumpkin, bourbon pecan, honey and pine nut, dilled spinach and many more tongue-tantalizing pie recipes.

Crazy for Cake Pops: 50 All-New Delicious and Adorable Creations Crazy for Cake Pops: 50 All-New Delicious and Adorable Creations

What could be more fun than dessert on a stick? Crazy for Cake Pops (Ulysses, October 2011) by Molly Bakes shows you how to craft more than 50 impressive cake-on-a-stick designs that range from simple chocolate covered pops adorned with chopped nuts to shaped pops featuring decorated snowmen, and Christmas puddings. Once you learn Bakes' technique for creating and decorating cake pops, you can take your creativity to task and make your own signature cake-on-a-stick bites. Crazy for Cake Pops is a kitchen craft book that you can use throughout the year for all occasions.

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