Sweet Talk: Five delicious holiday desserts

Rockland Magazine - Sweet Talk

When Mary Lynn Mitcham, Editor in Chief of Rockland Magazine, asked me if I would write a feature about holiday desserts, she didn’t have time to finish her sentence before I wholeheartedly agreed!

This was in the middle of summer, mind you, so I had to put my “holiday dessert” head on a little earlier than usual. Mary Lynn wanted me to create a special dessert for each of five different occasions: a brunch, a holiday dinner, a Christmas feast and a New Year’s Eve party, as well as one for holiday gift-giving.

I immediately started working on the concepts, and soon had sent her a list of the desserts I dreamed up. Thankfully, she loved them all. And so my journey began!

Four of the five desserts have been in my repertoire for many years and are all-time favorites. The only one I was apprehensive about was the chocolate layer cake — for the simple reason that I had never made one before. (Why I gave myself such a challenge, when I could easily have picked from more than a dozen other desserts in my repertoire, is beyond me!)

But there was no time to waste: I started testing the infamous chocolate layer cake right after Labor Day. The first attempt, as I describe in the feature, was absolutely ghastly. Not only would I not let anyone taste it, I wouldn’t even let anyone see it!

The next attempt was a significant improvement; my little nieces were my happy tasters, and fortunately, the cake met with their approval! I was starting to feel on better footing with my chocolate layer cake.

Of course, I had to make the cake a couple more times until I was satisfied with not only the texture, moistness and lightness, but also the presentation. Needless to say, in this household, September was the month of sweet indulgences.

To read about the inspiration for each dessert, and for tips and recommendations for where to find certain ingredients or products (like the bottles and jars for the infused honeys) click on Sweet Talk.


Herb-infused honeys & Sienese almond cookies

Chestnut cake with pan-roasted pears and chestnut honey syrup

Pumpkin crème brûlée with fresh ginger and cinnamon

Chocolate layer-mousse cake with cognac and bittersweet chocolate curls

Raspberry-Champagne fizz

I would like to thank Mary Lynn Mitcham for giving me the opportunity to write and photograph Sweet Talk for Rockland Magazine… It has been an honor and a very sweet adventure indeed.

Wishing you a joyous and delicious holiday season!

Rockland Magazine - Sweet Talk


  1. Rosie Begley

    Dear Viviane,
    Normally, I spend hours going through my collection of recipes each year for inspiration in creating a unique feast for my family. This year, however, after reading your always gorgeous “food and style,” I don’t plan to spend a minute perusing; instead I’m off to the market with a list of ingredients to make all you’ve pictured!!
    Many thanks!
    Wishing you and yours a most joyous, yummy Thanksgiving!!
    All my best,

    • Rosie! You are so delightful! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment here… You totally warmed my heart! I’ve served the recipes on this menu many times to family and friends, so I know you will enjoy making them and eating them! I wish you, John and your whole family a most delicious, joyful and festive Thanksgiving…. PS: Do let me know how the recipes and your feast turned out 🙂

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  4. skillful recipe! ;-). I enjoy studying that site. Where did you download this exquisite homepage template from? Compliments from germany.

  5. Congratulations! How fun it must have been to put your head into holiday mode during the heat and humidity of August.

  6. Oh, congratulations on the article! Your food is always such a treasure, I’m sure this will be one of many publications!

  7. Congrats – a great achievement. Not surprising though!!

  8. Congrats on publishing in Rockland Magazine.May we see more.

  9. congrats on the article, the photograph is simply gorgeous!

  10. tastyeatsathome

    Many congratulations!

  11. This is such a beautiful site!!

  12. Oh my, all of those sound absolutely amazing!

  13. Congrats! All the recipes sound so decadent and delicious! I esp love the chestnut cake and the pumpkin creme brulee.

  14. Congrats on getting a publication like that. I’m sure it will open a lot of new doors.

  15. Viviane, congratulations again! I enjoyed reading your article. I laughed at those little tasters! How fun!

  16. Congratulations! The article is lovely. Your work is lovely as well.

  17. The picture looks lovely, I love your site.

  18. Yea! I am making a chestnut cake for my holiday party so I think your list is right on target 🙂

  19. So now I can say I know a food celebrity. Your recipes and pics are top notch. The magazine is lucky to include you!

  20. Thank you all for your wonderful comments – very heart warming indeed!

    Jay, I have a feeling you are a fantastic baker… 🙂

    Joy, I am like your mom – I adore chestnuts and they also were a favorite childhood treat… Hope you can find chestnut flour in Dallas…

  21. Congratulations! Hopefully this is the first of many published articles for you.

  22. So cool – kudos to you for the honor and the great work!

  23. These all sound fantastic, but that chestnut cake looks absolutely incredible! I don’t have much of a knack for baking, but maybe one day…

  24. Congrats on being published in Rockland Magazine!! Yiyiyi all the recipes look awesome and you are SO talented. I am especially curious about the chestnut cake — my mother;s favorite childhood dessert were these chestnut cream cakes she said they use to have in China, I definitely want to surprise her over Christmas with your recipe. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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