3 Showstopping Holiday Cakes That Taste As Good As They Look

I don’t have that many winter holiday traditions. My family sticks firmly to their Thanksgiving feast plans, but we tend to go rogue come December. I remember one self-created tradition from my childhood, when we used to celebrate Christmas Day at my grandma’s house out in the country. I’d run inside, hug my grandma, then rush upstairs. Her bedroom had a balcony that overlooked the living room, where the tree was. I’d look at it from a bird’s-eye view. I’d try to spot my favorite ornaments, see how she hung the other decorations, and look for the biggest present so I could announce to everyone later who it was for. But that tradition died off as I got older, and as schedules shifted and we moved away from home, we started to do the holidays a little differently each year.

Now that I’m all grown up, and my brothers have kids of their own, we do the bulk of our celebrating on Christmas Eve, leaving Christmas Day a more casual, free-form day. How exactly we celebrate that day is always up for grabs. One year, it was just a handful of adults at my parents’ house, wearing PJs all day, playing board games, and eating breakfast for dinner. Another year, we ended up with a full house—kids, grown-ups, neighbors, the whole lot. A few times my fiancé Derek, my mom, and I have cooked a fancy, multi-course meal for whomever’s still around—and this is a new tradition I’m growing to love. I like to have a few showstopping desserts up my sleeve that will be sure to wow at the end of the feast. So this year, I’ve created three holiday cakes that are perfect for any soirée, big or small.