While we must say we love to use cream cheese when making desserts and often reach for it while baking, we realize there are times when you may prefer a recipe that doesn’t call for a block. Whether you’re having trouble finding cream cheese on the shelves of the supermarket or have family members that don’t particularly love the flavor, there are still plenty of dessert recipes you can make without it. From cakes to cookies to fudge and more, there is a long list of festive dessert recipes that don’t need cream cheese to be delicious. We’ve rounded up 21 of our best Christmas dessert ideas you can make this year without cream cheese.
Red Velvet Cake Crinkle Cookies
These crinkle cookies are rich, cakey, and slightly fudgy—kids will love them and adults will, too. Plus, there’s a surprise here. These treats are coated in a snowy layer of powdered sugar, just like classic crinkle cookies, but inside they’re more like velvety chocolate cake (with white chocolate chips!) than fudgy brownies. To ensure they have a nice deep hue, use gel food coloring rather than liquid. The latter won’t tint the batter as well.
Among the most beloved holiday treats, fudge holds pride of place in gifted Christmas tins and on holiday party dessert tables. Make no mistake, the diversity of fudge flavors is endless, but when it comes to Christmas Fudge, we have the firm belief that simple and classic chocolate fudge is almost always a better choice than anything elaborate and novel. Our recipe makes the most of bittersweet and unsweetened baking chocolate by letting their flavor stand on their own while including a few other ingredients to enhance the richness and the silkiness of the fudge itself. Sweetened condensed milk and butter are used to transform the melted chocolate into a sweetened and milky ganache, while the salt, espresso powder, and vanilla compliment the flavor of the chocolate and make the depths of that flavor more pronounced. The secret ingredient in this recipe is the corn syrup which prevents any crystal formation in the fudge and allows the finished product to be perfectly smooth with a slight chew rather than a crumbly, powdery, and altogether disappointing piece of crystalized fudge. To keep with the theme of simplicity, the decoration for this fudge is a mix of red, green, and white sprinkles that lend a delightful crunchy contrast to the velvety texture of the fudge. Finally, the flake salt called for in the recipe is optional, but when used, it enhances the fudge squares with a subtle saltiness while also adding the visual appeal of flaky crystals—taking something that looks almost like a kid’s treat at Christmas and elevating it to something fun and sophisticated.
Old Fashioned Gingerbread
Nothing makes a house smell more like Christmas than the sweet and spicy aroma of a freshly baked pan of gingerbread. We’re not talking about the crisp cookies or the houses covered in icing and candy. The taste of those holiday delights just can’t compare to a slice of tender, richly spiced gingerbread cake. The practice of baking and sharing gingerbread originated in Europe several hundred years ago and then made its way to the colonial South as families immigrated to the region and brought their recipes and traditions with them. Ginger from Asia and dried spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, and cloves arrived by ship into Southern ports and traveled inland because they were easy to transport and store. Whole dried spices kept well and retained their flavor and aroma for months. When combined with affordable sweeteners (like molasses or honey) and farmstead staples (such as butter and eggs), gingerbread could be made by home bakers when more expensive ingredients were not an option, which is why it became a wildly popular dessert. If you don’t have all the ground spices on hand, you can substitute two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice along with the black pepper.
Article By Jenna Sims for Southern Living©