6 Lovely Desserts To Bake Because Winter Is Coming (Recipes)

Since it is so cold these days, all I want to do is snuggle into some warm pajamas and bake something delicious that will send a sweet, festive aroma wafting throughout the whole house.

It's definitely baking season, and you should totally make the most of it if you have some spare time. Plus, these pastries can potentially double as excellent, heartfelt gifts.

1. Gingerbread Magic Cake Bars

What makes this cake a magic one? Combining beaten eggs yolks, sugar and whipped egg whites creates a curd-like batter that then separates as you bake it, giving you a custardy base and a cakey top for the same amount of work you'd put in for a single-layer treat. Go ahead, pretend you labored over this one for hours. It'll be our little secret.

2. Low-fat Red Wine Chocolate Donuts

Wine donuts? You've got to be kidding me!! And gosh, they are stunningly delicious, too. With just 153 calories per cookie (thanks in part to some sneaky yogurt!) and a baking method that turns out perfectly textured rings every time, you just might be able to munch on these without messing up your diet. If, however, you prefer that slightly greasy crunch, you can fry them as outlined in the recipe here.

3. Overnight Pull-Apart Brioche Cinnamon Roll Bread

Yep, that's right: after this simple dough rises, you get to just leave it in the fridge for hours until you are ready for a delicious breakfast or dessert, at which time you just plop it in the oven while you finish making the coffee. Plus, there's a secret ingredient -- eggnog, a surprisingly awesome baking ingredient -- that ensures that the bread stays rich and moist.

4. Salted Honey and Chocolate Bark

If you happen to get tired of your standard -- though delicious -- peppermint bark, toffee and peanut brittle, you'll be delighted to know that you can switch things up this year. Try this deeply bittersweet, sophisticated snack that combines crispy, buttery Ritz crackers, dark chocolate, cacao nibs, roasted hazelnuts (or your favorite nut), dried berries and crushed coffee beans. 

5. Maple Ooey-Gooey Butter Cake Bites

I think it's pretty obvious that anything called "Butter Cake" is going to be rich, moist and delicious beyond belief, so what are you waiting for? Plus, you can take a shortcut by using a box of yellow cake mix, just to make things even easier. Don't have maple syrup? Feel free to use honey instead (the same amount -- ¼ cup -- should work just fine) or ⅓ cup brown sugar.

6. Chocolate Peppermint Meringue Cookies

You probably wouldn't know it, but these meringues actually have way fewer calories and more protein (egg whites!) than a traditional cookie, making it a reasonable choice to serve those who don't need the extra carbs or fat, though no one will feel cheated by these delicious desserts. Oh, and these minty cookies just so happen to gluten-free, too.