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Community Cook Darlene Brenden’s Best Dessert Recipes

You can count on Darlene Brenden's expertise and creativity to provide drool-worthy dessert recipes that you and your family will love.

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Darlene is a lover of all things Christmas. She enjoys collecting Santa Claus memorabilia and is happiest when she’s in her kitchen baking Christmas cookies. In fact, baking is her favorite cooking method. Read our interview with Darlene to find out more fun facts.

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German Apple Strudel Exps166734 Th143193c04 22 6bc Rms 4

German Apple Strudel

This gorgeous strudel has just what you crave this time of year: thin layers of flaky crust and lots of juicy apples. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Autumn Leaf Cutouts

Turn classic cookies into a platter of autumn leaves. Make them in solid colors, or combine pieces of tinted dough for a multicolored effect. — Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Christmas Star Twisted Bread

Swirled with jam, this sweet beauty may look tricky, but it’s not. The best part is opening the oven to find this freshly baked star bread in all its glory. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Dark Chocolate Carrot Cake Exps132026 Sd2401784d10 18 6bc Rms 2

Dark Chocolate Carrot Cake

Carrot cake has a dark side—and it’s divine! Cream cheese and shredded carrots in the batter keep the cake moist, while toasted nuts and cinnamon boost the flavor. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Puff Pastry Christmas Palmiers

Palmiers (pronounced palm-YAY) come from France. They're usually sweet, but to make them savory, I swirl in pesto, feta and sundried tomatoes. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Cranberry Cake with Caramel Sauce

This sweet and tangy cake, loaded with bits of cranberries and topped with warm caramel sauce, is even better served warm with a scoop of ice cream. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Bomb Pop Cookies

The sound of the ice cream truck has even my husband running out to the curb with money in hand. Our neighborhood has a big potluck on the Fourth of July, so I decided to make cookies that resemble Bomb Pops. These were a big hit! —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Chocolate-Covered Cherry Delights

Chocolate-covered cherries were my dad’s favorite candy, so I designed these cookies for him. They’re super-cute with a fudgy sauce and coconut surprise inside. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Nutella-Stuffed Strawberries

Gourmet strawberries are pricey to order but easy to make. We serve strawberries with hazelnut spread as a crowd-pleasing appetizer or dessert. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Chocolate Coconut Pie with Coconut Crust

Chewy coconut in both the fudgy filling and the homemade pastry crust make this pie a real standout. I mix in chopped almonds for good measure! —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Gingersnap Coconut Creams

When Christmas is around the corner, we love gingerbread cookies and macaroons. I combine the two for a spiced gingersnap cookie with a coconut filling. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Star Anise-Honey Cookies

When I was growing up, my mother made many desserts and pastries with anise. Today, I continue the tradition with these cookies, which are flavorful and great for decorating in a variety of ways.—Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Old-Fashioned Doughnuts with Frosting

These finger-licking good delicacies are so light and luscious, my family has always called them "angel food doughnuts." They're lovely at Christmas with a dusting of confectioners' sugar. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Peppermint Puff Pastry Sticks Exps Hccbz18 41414 C05 25 2b 1

Peppermint Puff Pastry Sticks

I wanted to impress my husband's family with something you'd expect to find in a European bakery, and these chocolaty treats are what I came up with. The flaky pastry melts in your mouth. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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America's Birthday Cake

My birthday is July 3, so we celebrate it along with America's birthday. I created this yummy cake as a way to serve a red, white and blue cake for both occasions. We top each piece with a birthday candle and everyone blows out the candle to celebrate both birthdays. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Glazed Ginger Bars

I can’t think of the holidays without these luscious bars. The scent and flavor of ginger are just right for the season, and the light glaze adds the perfect amount of sweetness. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Chocolate Macadamia Macaroons Exps35555 Sd142780c08 07 6bc Rms 2

Chocolate Macadamia Macaroons

This perfect macaroon has dark chocolate, chewy coconut and macadamia nuts and is dipped in chocolate—sinful and delicious! —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Marbled Greeting Cookies Exps35735 Cw143039d09 11  13b Rms 2

Marbled Greeting Cookies

These festive goodies are like little Christmas cards with holiday wishes for your guests. Using a fluted pastry wheel gives the edges a pretty, ruffled finish.—Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Wonton Kisses

These wrapped bundles are filled with a sweet chocolate candy kiss and sure to delight guests at your next party. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Cranberry Swirl Loaf

My mother's made this bread for years, but she uses date filling. I loved her bread so much that I made my own, with cranberries for a slightly tart filling with the sweet streusel topping—sometimes I add a simple icing. Each slice reveals an enticing ruby swirl. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Eggnog Snickerdoodles

It simply wouldn't be Christmas without these melt-in-your-mouth cookies on my platter! They have a lovely eggnog flavor and look great with their crunchy tops. The aroma while they bake is as delectable as their taste.
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Coconut Cashew Brittle

This rich buttery brittle has always been part of our Christmas candy collection. Lots of coconut and cashews ensures it's extra scrumptious. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Cookies & Cream Brownies

You won't want to frost these brownies, since the marbled top is too pretty to cover up. Besides, the tasty cream cheese layer makes them taste as if they're already frosted. The crushed cookies add extra chocolate flavor and a fun crunch. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Pretty Cranberry Coffee Cake

Pretty Cranberry Coffee Cake

Cranberries make this coffee cake a beautiful quick bread that's perfect for the holidays. For extra shimmer, we add a drizzle of almond-flavored glaze. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Double Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Exps Thca18 34496 D11 01 2b 8

Double Chocolate Almond Cheesecake

This cheesecake is easy to make—but it's definitely not easy to wait till the next day to eat it! The recipe is from a friend I used to work with. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon

Sue Stetzel
Sue has been part of the Taste of Home family for over 16 years. Her collection of magazines dates back to the premier issue in 1993. When she isn’t writing, she’s answering your burning cooking questions and working with our team of Volunteer Field Editors.
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