Holiday dessert eats: Two must-try recipes

The holiday season is officially upon us, and I don’t know about y’all, but the days of sitting back while Ma, Grandma and the aunties handle holiday meals are long gone. One set of hips bumping around in the kitchen getting holiday meals ready now belong to me. Thankfully (if I do say so, myself), I naturally picked up cooking and have no problems preparing my signature crowd-pleasers every year. What I did not pick up on is baking. Of course I do a little somethin’ somethin’ with the boxed stuff, but –I’m from the South, and I come from a family of women who throw down in the kitchen, and so–the boxed stuff just won’t cut it. So, in an effort to up my baking skills this holiday and to help y’all out too (because I know I’m not the only person who can’t bake), I asked my friend Randi Smith, owner and lead cake designer at Sugar Euphoria, to provide a couple of holiday dessert recipes. Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Streusel Cheesecake

For the crust:

  • 2 1⁄4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1⁄4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • For the filling
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 eggs
  • 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
  • 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1(21 ounce) can apple pie filling
  • For the topping
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Position racks in center and lower third of oven. Place roasting pan on lower rack; fill halfway with hot water. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 11 – 12 inch spring form pan.
  3. Mix crust ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Press into the bottom of the pan. Bake crust for 5 minutes.
  4. Beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add in cream, flour and vanilla. Stir in apple pie filling. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. While it is baking combine all topping ingredients until crumbs form. After the first 40 minutes of baking, sprinkle this mixture over cheesecake. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until center jiggles when pan is gently shaken. Turn off oven. Let stand in oven with door closed 1 hour. Run knife around edge of pan. Cool on a rack. Chill overnight.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream

Adapted from Cake Paper Party

For the cake:

  • 7 ounces (200 grams) granulated sugar-1 cup
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) brown sugar-1 cup
  • 6 ounces in weight (170 grams) vegetable oil 13 tablespoons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) all-purpose flour or pastry flour-2 1/3 cups
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 ounces in weight (115 grams) sour cream-½ cup
  • 2 ounces in weight (60 grams) whole milk-¼ cup
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (about one 15 ounce can)

For the cream cheese buttercream:

  • 6 Tablespoons (90 milliliters or 53 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened and whisked smooth- 1 cup
  • 8 ounces in weight whole milk (230 grams)- 1 cup
  • 16 ounces (455 grams) unsalted butter, softened-2 cups (4 sticks)
  • 14 ounces (400 grams) sugar-2 cups
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vanilla extract


For the Pumpkin Spice Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with baking spray or grease and flour.
  2. Beat sugars and oil for 2 minutes on medium-high speed of mixer. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients to combine. Add to mixer and turn mixer on low, mix briefly to moisten dry ingredients.
  4. Whisk together sour cream, milk and pumpkin puree and add to mixer in two batches. Stir well after each addition. Mix for 30 seconds on medium after second addition to blend thoroughly.
  5. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes until the cake tests just clean with a toothpick. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely if using immediately, or wrap with two layers of plastic wrap if using later.
  6. Place the flour in a 4 cup or larger microwave-safe container and slowly whisk in the milk and cream.

For the buttercream:

  1. Whisk some of the milk mix into the cream cheese and then add the cream cheese mix to the rest of the milk mixture. Make sure the mixture is smooth and lump free (an immersion blender or electric mixer can help with this).
  2. Cook the mixture in the microwave in 30 second increments stirring after each interval until the mixture is thick enough to pile on itself without settling back in.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes or until it is tepid or until room temperature. Whisk occasionally or cover with wax paper to prevent a skin from forming.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the butter on medium in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment for 2 minutes until smooth and light. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated.
  5. Add the cooled cream cheese-milk mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time to the butter mixture. When it is all added, beat in the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds or until fluffy.


Randi Smith, owner of Sugar EuphoriaRandi Smith is a Bahamian native now residing in North Carolina with her husband and daughter. She began Sugar Euphoria in 2012, and has gained national recognition in wedding industry publications and media for her decadent, beautifully designed wedding cakes and treats. If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area, check out the Sugar Euphoria storefront (located in Morrisville at 10123 Chapel Hill Rd.) for goodies and fun classes, and check out for the Pinterest-worthy photos of her creations.

Photo by Emily March Payne


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Southern girl with a soft spot for Harlem. Biggie enthusiast with kindred spirit ties to Beyonce. Martin's Gina. Jerry's Elaine. Communicator. MBA-haver. Too complex for anybody's box.