OUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS CAKE RECIPES

As experts in all things Christmas, we have the scoop on great holiday desserts to share with your family and friends. Check out a few of our favorite recipes!
Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Country Living

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong brewed coffee, warm
1/3 cup light olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

Directions:
1. Preheat the over to 400F. Lightly coat an 8-inch round cake pan with softened butter and dust with all-purpose flour. Set aside.

2. Whisk the first five ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. Stir the coffee, oil, vanilla and vinegar together and whisk into the flour mixture just until smooth. Less is more when it comes to this basic cake batter. Use a whisk, but stir, rather than whip, the room-temperature ingredients together.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center rack of the over until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan or on a wire rack. Serve the cake, iced. Cake can also be served plain alongside whipped cream or coffee ice cream.

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Cheesecake
Recipe from Betty Crocker

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk

Filling & Topping:
5 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted, if desired

Directions:
1. Preheat over to 400F. Lightly grease 9-inch spring form pan with shortening; remove bottom. In medium bowl, mix all crust ingredients with fork until dough forms; gather into a ball. Press one-third of the dough evenly on bottom of pan. Place pan on a cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown; cool. Assemble bottom and side of pan; secure side. Press remaining dough 2 inches up side of pan.

2. Increase oven temperature to 475F. In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, orange peel, lemon peel and salt with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth. Beat in eggs, 2 egg yolks and 1/4 cup whipping cream, beating on low speed until well blended. Pour into baked crust. Bake 15 minutes.

3. Reduce oven temperature to 200F. Bake for 1 more hour. Cheesecake may not appear done, but if a small area in the center seems soft, it will become firm as cheesecake cools. (Don't insert a knife to test for doneness; the hole could cause cheesecake to crack.) Turn off oven; leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven and cool in pan on cooling rack away from drafts 30 minutes.

4. Without releasing or removing side of pan, run metal spatula carefully along side of pan to loosen cheesecake, but leaving it in the pan. Refrigerate uncovered about 3 hours or until chilled; cover and continue refrigerating at least 9 hours, but no longer than 48 hours.

5. Run metal spatula along side of pan to loosen cheesecake again. Remove side of pan; leave cheesecake on pan bottom to serve. In chilled small bowl, beat 3/4 cup whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Spread whipped cream over top of cheesecake. Decorate with almonds. Store covered in refrigerator.

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Pumpkin-Spice Cupcakes
Recipe from Quick & Simple

Ingredients:
Cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn-oil spread
15 ounce can pure pumpkin
2/3 cup frozen egg substitute, thawed
1/2 cup low-fat milk (1/%)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Frosting:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup light cream cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line 24 muffin-pan cups with paper liners.

2. On wax paper, combine first seven ingredients. In a large bowl with mixer at low speed, beat brown sugar and corn-oil spread until well mixed, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl frequently.

3. Increase speed to medium; beat in pumpkin, egg substitute, milk and vanilla. With mixer at low speed, gradually add flour mixture and beat just until blended.

4. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans and cool on wire rack.

5. Meanwhile, prepare frosting: In a large bowl, beat confectioners' sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla with mixer at low speed until blended. Increase speed to medium; beat until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.

6. Spread frosting on cupcakes and sprinkle with chopped pecans, if you like.

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