Holiday dessert showdown

Once the debate over whether or not "Diehard" is a Christmas movie settles down the question of which dessert to pick up at the store for Christmas dinner is bound to erupt. Lucky for you I have created this definitive guide to give you the edge in picking the right desserts for you and your family this holiday season.

After whittling down the contenders in a fierce competition the final five deserts will fight to become the undisputed dessert king based on four criteria. Rankings will be based on looks/aesthetic, taste, festiveness and likelihood of going back for seconds. Of course, a 1 is the worst score possible with 10 being the best. Let the games begin!

5. Candy Canes

These sweet treats are synonymous with Christmas. Their bright red and white stripes are as eye-catching as they are delicious. Peppermint is a great and versatile flavor all around which gives these candies a "cane up" on the competition, so to speak. Candy canes get knocked down a few points for being a little too peppermint-y though. By this I mean the flavor melds together until it tastes like nothing by the end of the cane. I would reach for a peppermint mocha before a peppermint flavored candy cane any day of the week. Still a solid snack however, would recommend.

Looks/Aesthetic: 9

Taste: 7

Festiveness: 8

Seconds: 2

Final verdict: 6.5/10

4. Peppermint Bark

Yes, another peppermint flavored thing. It is like a candy cane meets the complexity of chocolate. If that explanation was not enough to convince you why it is ranked above the beloved classic, peppermint bark has multiple layers and is made by a number of chocolate makers that solve a lot of the one-note-flavor problems I have with regular-old candy canes. No two peppermint bark makers use exactly the same recipe, which is great news for consumers. White chocolate peppermint bark is also criminally underrated. Although peppermint bark, while delicious, unfortunately still can not compete with the top three on this list due to its admittedly strong and occasionally overpowering flavors and...interesting textures.

Look/Aesthetic: 9

Taste: 7.5

Festiveness: 8.5

Seconds: 5

Final Verdict: 7.5/10

3. Pie (Pumpkin/Pecan/Sweet Potato)

This is more of a category than a specific type of pie and yes, making it an entire category could qualify as cheating but as the creator of the rulebook, I give this one a pass. Just because pies are more strongly associated with Thanksgiving does not mean

they should not be part of your Christmas assortment. Pies are one of the best man-made desserts ever and holiday pies rise a step above with creamy interiors and an abundance of whip cream (let us not forget pie a la mode). Their only demerit here is the festiveness is often lacking and pies like pumpkin and sweet potato can also border on bored-looking.

Look/Aesthetic: 7.5

Taste: 10

Festiveness: 5

Seconds: 9

Final Verdict: 7.75/10

2. Gingerbread Man Cookies

*Add a little bit of spice*

Nothing encompasses that phrase more than gingerbread cookies. Crispy when they need to be, soft in the center, with an acting career and a book deal gingerbread cookies are the ultimate hard workers. It is no surprise that these cookies have a unique kick to them with their super cute frosting designs. Gingerbread can also be used in a host of other desserts. Check out episode four of Cooking with Nina or this article to see how to make gingerbread flavored cheesecake. As great as these cookies are though, there is still one dessert that was able to catch this gingerbread man.

Looks/Aesthetics: 9

Taste: 9.5

Festiveness: 9.5

Seconds: 9

Final Verdict: 9.25/10


Honorable Mentions. Before looking at which dessert took home the coveted Christmas dessert crown there were a couple of delicious desserts that just missed the cut.


I love a good eggnog flavored pastry or Starbucks eggnog latte, however the judging panel deemed this not a traditional dessert and therefore ineligible to make it to the final round due to eggnog being primarily a holiday drink.

Looks/Aesthetic: 8

Taste: 8

Festiveness: 7

Seconds : 6

Final Verdict: 7.25/10

~Rice Pudding~

Rice pudding is a divisive dessert. I am in the camp that says it is a great and delicious dessert. Rice pudding is also great when it comes to mix-ins; cinnamon and chocolate are just two of the many possible combinations. My personal favorite variant of rice pudding being arroz con leche. It misses the cut due to failures both in the aesthetic and festiveness departments that it just can not make up though. Rice pudding is definitely not the prettiest to look at, and it is dessert made for all occasions, not just fall and winter holidays.


Taste: 8

Festiveness: 3

Seconds?: 6

Final Verdict: 5.25/10

Dishonorable Mentions. With every "best list" has to come a "worst list."


Who decided putting fruit in a cake was a good idea? I am convinced no one likes fruitcake unironically. I am also convinced Kevin McCallister could have used this dessert instead of bricks and still would have stopped the Wet Bandits. Although I can not deny fruitcake has a brightness too it that tricks my brain into thinking it might be good for a quick second, it never is.

Looks/Aesthetic: 2

Taste: -2

Festiveness: 7

Seconds?: -7

Final Verdict: 0/10

~Novelty Candy Canes (the bad ones)~

Just like celebrity Christmas songs, not every candy cane can be Mariah Carey’s "All I Want for Christmas is You." Some of them are awful mistakes that should never have left the studio, or the factory in this case. Some of the potential flavors you could consume include wasabi, pickles and kale. Maybe I am a purist, but I would rather my candy be candy flavored.

Looks/Aesthetics: 8

Taste: -5

Festiveness: -5

Seconds?: -8

Final Verdict: -10/10


At long last, the best holiday dessert is . . .

1. Sugar Cookies!

Without a doubt, the best holiday treats are sugar cookies. Sorry, I did not make those rules. Good sugar cookies melt in your mouth with fun and festive designs that will bring a smile to even the most "bah humbug" members of your family. They have all the benefits of a gingerbread cookie without any of the drying effects and as an added bonus they are a blast to bake with family and friends. There is no better dessert to break out the Christmas tree and snowman cookie cutters for than these buttery, sugar pieces of perfection.

Looking for a sugar cookie recipe? Check out staff writer Hannah Chuhlantseff's sugar cookie recipe!

Looks/Aesthetic: 10

Taste: 10

Festiveness: 10

Seconds: 10

Final Verdict: 10/10


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