Kevin Paredes/Photo Editor Serving these toffee bar desserts is a great way to keep your holiday dinners interesting when guests get sick of pie.

Peppermint Bark

This recipe requires few ingredients and little baking experience, so it’s perfect for beginners this holiday season. Once you start eating it, you won’t be able to put it down.

— 40 salted saltine crackers or enough to line your cookie sheet

— 1 cup of salted butter

— 1 cup of brown sugar

— 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips

— 1/2 cup of crushed candy canes

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then place the saltine crackers in a single layer over the pan.

2. In a small pot, combine brown sugar and butter over medium heat and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Once it begins to boil, keep the stove on for three minutes or until the mixture becomes a deep caramel color. Immediately pour the mixture over the saltines and spread with a spoon to cover the crackers completely.

3. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for five to six minutes.

4. Remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Smooth with a spoon while they melt on top of the saltines. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for a minute, then spread on top of the crackers.

5. Before the chocolate hardens, top with as many of the crushed candy canes as you would like.

6. Chill in refrigerator for about two hours, then break into pieces and serve.

Adapted from

Toffee Bars

Caught in a pinch and signed up to bring a dessert to the family dinner? These toffee bars are easy to make and share.

— 1 cup of butter

— 1 cup brown sugar

— One egg yolk

— Pinch of salt

— 2 cups of flour

— 1 teaspoon vanilla

— One bag of chopped nuts of your choice

— One bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-by-13-inch pan.

2. Use an electric mixer to mix butter, brown sugar and egg yolk until fluffy.

3. Add a pinch of salt and vanilla, and mix.

4. Add flour slowly, mixing until it becomes thick.

5. Press dough into the prepared pan, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crust, and wait five minutes before spreading evenly with a spoon.

7. Add chopped nuts of your choice while the chocolate is still warm.

8. Cool on counter for approximately two hours before cutting into bars and serving.

Adapted from a family recipe.

Texas Fruit Salad

This fruit salad adds a twist to the classic fruit salad with marshmallows — perfect for either dessert or as an appetizer.

— One 15-ounce can of pineapple tidbits (drained)

— One 20-ounce can of mandarin oranges (drained)

— 1 cup of shredded coconut

— 1 cup of sour cream

— 1 cup of chopped pecans

— One bag of miniature marshmallows

1. Mix the pineapples, oranges and sour cream in a medium-sized bowl.

2. Stir in the shredded coconut and chopped pecans.

3. Mix well with wooden spoon.

4. Chill the mixture in the bowl and refrigerate for two hours.

5. Remix, then pour into a clean bowl before serving if desired.

Adapted from a family recipe.

Pumpkin Roll

This dessert is nice on the eyes and perfect for Instagram. Impress your guests with this easy-to-make dish.

— Three eggs

— 1 cup of white sugar

— 2/3 cup of canned pumpkin puree

— 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

— 1 teaspoon of ground ginger

— 1 cup of chopped pecans

— 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar

— 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese

— 4 teaspoons of butter

— 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

— 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

— 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

— 1/2 tablespoon of salt

— 3/4 cup of all-purpose flower

— One bag of miniature chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-by-15-inch jellyroll pan.

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on high. Mix in the pumpkin puree and lemon juice with the electric mixer.

3. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger.

4. Stir into the pumpkin mixture.

5. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle pecans over the top of the batter.

6. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the center springs back when touched. Loosen edges with a knife.

7. Flip cake onto two dish towels that have been dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

8. Roll up the cake with dish towels so the layers don’t touch and let it cool for 20 minutes.

9. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, one cup of confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and semisweet miniature chocolate chips. Beat using an electric mixer until smooth.

10. Once cooled, unroll pumpkin cake, remove the dish towel, spread on the filling and roll it back up.

11. Place pumpkin roll on a long sheet of waxed paper and twist ends of the waxed paper as if it were a candy wrapper. Refrigerate overnight.

12. Dust the top of the roll with confectioners’ sugar before slicing and serve chilled.

Adapted from

Chocolate Nut Angel Pie

Still a classic pie fan but looking for a new twist? Filled with chocolate, this unconventionally crusted pie is far from the ordinary.

— 1/2 cup of granulated sugar

— 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar

— Two egg whites

— 1/2 cup of chopped nuts

— 3/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

— 3 tablespoons of hot water

— 1 teaspoon of vanilla

— 1 pint of heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees and grease a 9-inch pie plate.

2. Sift the granulated sugar and cream of tartar together, then set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the two egg whites to a stiff consistency with a hand-held mixer.

4. Add sugar and tartar mix into the beaten egg whites and beat until sugar dissolves.

5. Add a thin layer of this mix to the pie plate, keeping the center hollow and being sure not to spill batter onto the rim.

6. Sprinkle the chopped nuts across the top.

7. Bake in oven for one hour, until the meringue becomes a delicate brown.

8. Cool thoroughly in refrigerator.

9. Whip the cup of heavy cream in a small bowl with a hand-held mixer. Set aside.

10. Melt the chocolate chips in double boiler and remove from heat once melted. Stir in hot water.

11. Stir vanilla into the chocolate mix, then fold in the whipped cream.

13. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pie crust and smooth out the top. Sprinkle a few more nuts on top and chill in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.

Adapted from a family recipe.