Sparkling Holiday Desserts & Libations

With temperatures starting to plummet in Michigan, begins the never-ending question of how will we source local ingredients throughout these fiercely cold months? What can we include in our meals that will allow us to support the local economy in the most brutal of seasons? And resoundingly, desserts appear, again and again. Opportunities abound for Michigan creameries, creating cow and goat grass-fed milk, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, butter, and all things dairy, as chefs tout locally-sourced cheesecakes, flan, rice pudding, pies, and other decadences that rely on local dairy farmers. 

Additionally, Michigan holds a special place in holiday recipe enthusiasts’ hearts by virtue of their command of the cranberry. Our climate, soil, and water make Michigan a perfect host for this berry. The largest Michigan cranberry producer, Michigan Cranberry Company, has marshes in Cheboygan county, and produces nearly 3 million pounds of berries a year. And nothing says holiday like a cranberry drink or dessert. 

So we thought we’d share out some of our favorite recipes from Michigan chefs and foodies to make your holidays sparkle their locality just a bit brighter. Try my favorite Cranberry Apple Crisp recipe, a simple, and delicious staple for any holiday baker; not to mention it’s a beautiful addition to a festive table. We also highly recommend this Champagne Cheesecake from Reid Krebs at As You Wish Gourmet Eatery, a must-have for ringing in the new year. And Thunder Bay Winery’s Mulled Cranberry Wine has never ceased to impress the Scroogiest of guests (recipe pictured).  

Cranberry Apple Crisp


3 cups chopped peeled tart apples
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Combine apples, cranberries, sugar and flour. Pour into a greased 11×7-in. baking dish. In a bowl, mix topping ingredients until crumbly; sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until fruit is tender. Serves 6-8. 

Champagne cheesecake

By Reid Krebs of As You Wish Gourmet Eatery

3 cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ stick melted unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl; it should resemble damp sand. Press evenly into a greased and parchment papered 8″ springform pan. Pat crust roughly 1” up the walls of the pan. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool completely. 


32 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs (room temperature)
1 Tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
¼ cup sour cream
1 cup of sparkling wine 

Bring sparkling wine to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Reduce by half, set aside and cool completely. Beat cream cheese and sugar in a stand up mixer or food processor until the cream cheese is light and fluffy (4-5 mins). Add one egg at a time. Add vanilla and wine and combine. Add sour cream, flour, and salt. Mix until well combined, but don’t over beat. Pour batter into the springform pan with the crust. Evenly distribute the batter. Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil and place cake on the middle rack of the oven. Directly below, place a 10”x15” sheet pan with water in it. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Cool for 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Thunder Bay Winery Mulled Wine 

1 bottle Thunder Bay Winery Cranberry wine 
12 oz water 
½ cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon 
½ tsp clove 

Combine spices in a coffee filter and tie off. Place water and wine in saucepan or crockpan. Add sugar and stir until combined. Place spice filled coffee filter into the mixture and heat through. Do not boil. Serve and enjoy!

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Molly Stepanski is the Local Food Coordinator for northeast Michigan. She enjoys reading with her six year old, planting and hiking in the dirt, cooking up her own recipes, drinking farmhouse cider, and eating lots of fresh, seasonal produce (and anything deep-fried, in accordance with her southern heritage). She owns and operates Presque Isle Farm with her family and is a founding member of the NE Michigan Food & Farming Network. Contact her at [email protected]