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Make-Ahead Holiday Desserts

Make ahead desserts

The secret to a relaxing holiday dinner: keeper desserts. And we mean keeper literally. These deeply-flavored holiday desserts are bona fide make-aheads that keep for days, weeks, and even months when wrapped tightly in plastic and stored in the freezer. You’ll keep your sanity—and the desserts will draw raves from guests.


6 Weeks Ahead: Brown Sugar & Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie

Developed specifically as a make-ahead, the crust and custard in this riff on a classic pie recipe are frozen separately up to 6 weeks ahead and come together just before baking.

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6 Weeks Ahead: Apple Pie with Poached Dried Cherries

You can assemble your unbaked pie and freeze it for up to 6 weeks. When you’re ready to bake, simply put it in the oven (no defrosting!). It takes a little more time to bake, but the payoff is worth it.

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1 Month Ahead: Chocolate Marble Cake

This dense, luscious cake has a texture a little like fudge and a little like cheesecake. You can wrap and freeze the baked cake for up to a month, then thaw in an hour or two.

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4 Weeks Ahead: Pecan Tartlets

These mini pecan “pies” are neither cloyingly sweet nor overly gooey. It’s simply crunchy toasted pecans sprinkled over a mouthwatering brown sugar filling. Bake and freeze for up to 4 weeks, then refresh the tarts in the oven before serving.

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2 Weeks Ahead: Chocolate-Honey Ganache Layer Cake

The rich, intense flavor of the cake deepens over time, so make the layers at least 1 day ahead or bake and freeze the layers wrapped in plastic and foil for up to 2 weeks. And for optimum spreadability, make the ganache 8 to 24 hours ahead.

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2 Weeks Ahead: Maple-Walnut Tart

For a delicious riff on pecan pie, look no further than this sweet, earthy tart. The finished tart can be frozen for up to 2 weeks. For fresh-baked flavor, warm it in the oven 10-15 minutes before serving.

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2 Weeks Ahead: Cranberry-Almond Shortbread Tart

This sturdy bar-cookie-disguised-as-a-tart features a tangy cranberry filling between two tender layers of almond-cornmeal shortbread. You can wrap the finished tart in plastic and store it for up to 2 days at room temperature.

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1 Week Ahead: Pumpkin-Pecan Cake

For this sultry cake, baking ahead isn’t just a timesaver, it deepens the flavor. Bake at least a day ahead, or as much as a week ahead if you plan on freezing. Add the brown sugar and bourbon glaze to the thawed cake up to 10 hours before serving.

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1 Week Ahead: Espresso Gingerbread Cake

There’s no tedious assembly of cake layers or finicky buttercreams required for this gorgeous make-ahead. Wrapped tightly in plastic, it’ll hold up at room temperature for as long as a week.

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2 Days Ahead: Caramelized Pear Upside-Down Cakes

You can make these stunning cakes up to two days ahead; they actually taste better after a day and are easier to slice. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

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