Sweet x SW: Holiday Baking Ideas

Dulce Apple Cobbler

We’re firmly entrenched in that special time of year:  that time that requires our 9″ x 13″ baker, bundt, and brownie pans to earn their keep.

If you’re anything like me, you especially relish baking during these months. And while traditional cookies and pies will always have a reserved place in my heart, I like to think outside of the box as often as possible.

For the last 5 years, I have spent each holiday season returning to the same southwestern-style sweets, serving them to friends and family with flour-dusted abandon. This year will be no exception:  I’m going to be delivering spicy dessert bars, dulce sheet cakes, flans and homemade candy to as many people as I can.

Following are a few of my favorites – I hope you find something you like as much as I do.

And please take a moment to leave a favorite sweet link or recipe idea of your own in the comments section; I love to hear what you’re baking up this holiday season!

Dulce De Leche Crunch Torte

Dulce Apple Skillet Cobbler. It’s scientifically proven that people enjoy eating desserts out of skillets, which is why this is rustic cobbler is scientifically proven to be amazeballs.

Dulce De Leche Crunch Torte. More with the dulce, more with the amazeballs.

Pistachio Muffins. I love having muffins hanging around for holiday brunches or unexpected morning guests. Even better when they’re stuffed with pistachios (the muffins, not the unexpected morning guests).

Chocolate-Dipped Agave Bars. Anything chocolate-dipped is winning right around now. Another scientific fact.

Cocada. A simple 5-ingredient candy that never fails to delight.

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate Cake

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate Cake. I love this melted Mexican chocolate-topped cake more than words can express. It makes for a beautiful presentation, keeps for days, and is absolutely delicious.

Texas Sheet Cake. Why fix this classic if it isn’t broken? What’s that I hear? Crickets? That’s right, because there’s absolutely no reason to make any alterations to my Favorite Lone Star solution to dessert for a crowd.

Brown Butter Flan Imposible. This brown butter riff on a traditional flan imposible is what you should be serving when you want to go all out:  it offers something for every palate and is pretty enough to double as a centerpiece.

Torta De Cielo. Deceptively simply but incredibly satisfying, this cake is perfect to have on hand for an après lunch sweet or even toasted at breakfast time.

Chuckwagon Apple Fritters. Not baked, I know, but special enough to make an exception. If you would prefer to start a chilly winter day with something other than a spiced apple fritter straight from the fryer then you are a much better person than me.

Unbaked Oatmeal Cookies l Scarletta Bakes

Oatmeal Canela Cookies. OK, OK, we have to make some cookie exceptions, and these comforting oatmeal ones made the cut. I’ve certainly never stood over a bowl of raw cookie dough with a large spoon and watched my dignity slip away just a bit more quickly than the possibility of any cookies making it to the oven, but if I did, the dough for these cookies would have started it.

Marranitos (Gingerbread Pigs). One more cookie exception, because sweet, pig-shaped Marranitos can’t keep smiles at bay. (And because, crushed, these cookies make a fabulous crust for future pies and dessert bars.)

Pomegranate Upside Down Cake. Another showstopper. Festive, flavorful, and super simple to prepare.

Pasilla Mole Cupcakes. A spiced up, interesting (but still sweet!) take on your conventional holiday cupcake.

Caramel Apple Pie Pop Tarts. And, really, homemade pop tarts are self-explanatory, don’t you think? They keep like gems, warm up in the oven in a snap, and are so much better than quiche or fruitcake on a holiday morning. Trust me.

This post was sponsored by Glam Media and Foodie, which offers one of my favorite tools for collecting recipes. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions included here are my own. As always, I only write about food, products and brands that I personally truly love.


  1. 4

    Roberta B says

    Just received your cookbook in the mail and am anxious to begin!! I, too, have relocated to (north) Scottsdale. Born and raised in South Dakota, 18 years in southern California and 2 years each in Panama and Bali. My cooking goes from casseroles to sates, trifles to tiramisu, enchiladas to spring rolls – all over the place. I probably have 100 Southwestern/Mexican cookbooks but I especially look forward to working (playing) with yours!! Although I am still only part-time in AZ (full-time in 2014) I hope to one day run into you!!

    • Meagan says

      What a lovely, lovely comment, Roberta! I’m so sorry for the delayed response! And talk about a global kitchen – I am so honored that someone as well-traveled as you is giving The New Southwest a try; I hope you’re enjoying it and finding delicious recipes that you can share with friends and family. Thanks so much for your comment and your interest in The New Southwest. I hope to run into you around town at some point! Happy New Year!

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