Bite-Sized is Right Sized

Delicious Mini Holiday Desserts That Make a Big Impression


December 2023 Issue
By Leslie Rohland
Photography by Lucy Rosen

If there’s anything people enjoy more than holiday desserts, it’s the chance to sample lots of perfectly proportioned, special sweet treats at holiday get-togethers. Of course, festive, full-sized cakes, pies and traditional fruitcake will be part of most menus this season, but there is something particularly enticing to guests about a beautifully presented array of delicious bite-sized December delicacies, which can be as much fun to make as they are to eat!

There are many marvelous reasons why homemade, bite-sized desserts may be the right-size addition to your holiday baking repertoire. Most importantly, they allow people to try a number of different delicacies without feeling they overindulged or wasted a whole piece of cake after taking just a bite or two to taste. Bite-sized desserts also eliminate the need for having to cut, serve, or plate, allowing people to just easily help themselves and socialize during dessert-time.

They are also a wonderful way to show off some of your creative presentation ideas and add to the festivities; they can become a stunning centerpiece of your table or buffet! Plus, for people on your list, a box of these delicious dainty delights makes the perfect gift. You can even start a new family holiday tradition by making these treats together with your kids year after year!

Here are a few of my favorite bite-sized holiday desserts, which prove bigger isn’t always better! From my special Christmas Cookie Bar (bursting with Christmas sprinkles, M&Ms, chocolate chips and the smells and tastes of the holidays), to my easy-to-make (and even easier to eat) No-Bake Rum Pecan Balls, these tiny, sweet treats are sure to make a big impression. And my Christmas Crack and Chocolate Crinkle recipes, my long-time holiday tradition favorites, bring together the distinct flavors of the holidays for snacking on all season long!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, happy holidays—and a holiday season filled with enjoying the little things in life!


Chocolate Crinkle
Yields: Approximately 24

1 cup Unsweetened cocoa powder Cottage 1223 1
1½ cups Sugar
½ cup Vegetable oil
4 large Eggs
2 tsps Vanilla extract
2 cups All-purpose flour
2 tsps Baking powder
½ tsp Kosher salt
1 cup Powdered sugar
1 tsp Espresso powder (optional)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beat by hand with a wooden spoon), beat together cocoa powder, sugar, and vegetable oil until it comes together into a shiny dough. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if using). Mix into the chocolate mixture on low speed until just combined. Do not overbeat.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill four hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the powdered sugar in a wide bowl. Using a rounded teaspoon, scoop out clumps of the chilled dough and roll them into 1-inch sized balls using your hands. Do several at a time and drop them into the powdered sugar as you go. The dough will be quite sticky, so it’s useful to roll the dough in batches. Roll the balls in the powdered sugar and place a few inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F for 11-13 minutes. Allow to cool a minute or two on the sheet pans before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


No-Bake Rum Pecan Balls
Yields 20

1 cup Powdered sugar Cottage 1223 1
1 cup Vanilla wafers, ground into crumbs
2 Tbsps Cocoa powder
2 Tbsps Maple syrup
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
4 Tbsps Rum (your choice)
1½ cups Pecans, toasted and finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs, 1 cup pecans, powdered sugar, cocoa, maple syrup, and rum. Mix until a sticky dough forms. Chill dough for 2 hours. Once chilled, scoop the cookie mixture into 1-inch balls, using a tablespoon scoop or your hands. Repeat the process until all of the balls are rolled. Then, coat each one in the remaining chopped pecans. Cover and store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Christmas Crack  
Yields 24

35 +/- Saltine crackers Cottage 1223 1
1 cup Unsalted butter
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 cup Light brown sugar (packed)
½ cup Butterscotch chips
1½ cup Milk chocolate chips
3 Tbsps Christmas sprinkles

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 10”×15” baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place your Saltine crackers in even flat rows until the pan is covered. Set it aside. In a saucepan, over medium-high heat, melt butter and brown sugar, whisking often and allow to boil for a few minutes. Pour it over the saltines, then spread it out gently with a spoon. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate and butterscotch chips and let it sit. Again, with a spoon, spread the chocolate/butterscotch over the Saltines and sprinkle with your favorite Christmas sprinkles. Allow it to harden. Cut or break into pieces and serve. Store in an airtight container.

Christmas Cookie Bar 

Yields 2

½ cup Unsalted butter Cottage 1223 1
2 cups Light brown sugar (packed)
2 large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking powder
2 cups All-purpose flour
Mini chocolate chips
Christmas M&Ms
Christmas sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9”×13” pan with foil and spray well with cooking spray. Mix butter and brown sugar with a stand or a hand mixer until crumbly. Add in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Mix in salt, baking powder, and then flour. Stir in desired amount of M&Ms, sprinkles and chips. Spread into prepared pan. (The mixture is wet, so it’s best to spray your hands with cooking spray and then smooth the dough with your hands to get an even layer.) Top with more sprinkles. Bake for 22-25 minutes until they start to turn golden. Allow to fully cool then slice into bars. Store in an airtight container up to 4 days, or freeze up to one month.

ChefLynne Headshot

Leslie Rohland, owner of the Cottage Cafe, Bakery and Tea Room in Old Town Bluffton, is an award-winning recipe creator who is known for her delicious and ever-changing menu at her extraordinary restaurant. She is also the owner of the popular healthy eatery The Juice Hive and the micro-roastery May River Coffee Roasters. For more information about The Cottage Cafe, visit or call 843-757-0508.

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