Gingerbread cake, cranberry-mandarin pavlova and more delicious reasons to up your holiday dessert game.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a stash of your friends’ homemade treats saved and ready to be served on a silver platter—we’re in the middle of cookie-exchange season, after all. But in case you want to try something different this year (goodbye, gingerbread men!), we scoured the WL Recipe Finder to find eight delicious Christmas cookie alternatives.

1. Lemon Bars

Holiday meals are heavy. After filling up on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy (and cranberry sauce, of course), refresh the palate with the Dirty Apron‘s delightfully tart lemon bars.

2. Glorious Gingerbread Cake

In anticipation of her first cookbook, Sweet Bake Shop (available March 2018), Vancouver blogger and baker Tessa Sam shares her recipe for gingerbread cake topped with cream cheese frosting—just think of the festive, spiced aroma it’ll spread throughout the home when it’s baking in the oven.

3. Christmas Crack

Editorial Director Anicka Quin has a few go-to holiday dishes (you need to make the Christmas Morning Wifesaver for breakfast this year), and when it comes to dessert, nothing beats contributing editor Julie Van Rosendaal‘s sweet-and-savoury Christmas Crack.

4. Stollen Cookies

Okay…we had to throw at least one cookie in the mix. And since Thomas Haas‘s stollen cookies are inspired by Germany’s beloved marzipan-stuffed fruit-and-nut loaf, we figured it would be okay. (We think even fruitcake haters will love the taste of these.)

5. Phyllo Pumpkin Pie

It may not be okay to wear white after Labour Day, but it is okay to eat pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving. Especially when it’s as tasty as this Greek-inspired variation from the Greece: Recipes for Olive Oil and Vinegar Lovers cookbook written by Victoria’s Emily Lycopolus.

6. Sriracha Caramel Corn

This sweet, buttery caramel corn has a spicy kick, making for a great pre- or post-dinner party nibble. And if your guests really love it, you can throw some popcorn into a cellophane bag or glitzy novelty box for them to take home.

7. The Dirty Twixter

David Robertson took inspiration from his two favourite chocolate bars for this hybrid recipe. With layers of rich dulce de leche, salted caramel ganache and buttery shortbread (and a sprinkling of fleur de sel) these Dirty Twixter bars from The Dirty Apron Cookbook taste like both a Twix and a Skor.

8. Holiday Pavlovas

This year, photographer and food stylist Tracey Kusiewicz (you likely recognize her name from the pages of WL) got into the festive spirit by sharing a recipe for cranberry-mandarin vanilla pavlovas. They’re beautiful, flavourful and so, so easy to make.

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