Just Desserts


By Maria Neuman

While we may dodge dessert throughout the year, once Thanksgiving hits the calendar the array of treats is worth celebrating. Call it a guilt-free sugar rush. “I bake 24/7 for the two months leading up to the holidays,” says Fanny Lam, the author of Oh Sweet Day! (Cedar Fort) who last year made an impressive 700 of her signature cookie boxes for friends and fans in her hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia.  

With Lam as your culinary guide, why not throw a sweet soirée as a way to celebrate the holiday season? “Personally, I love parties in November and December to gather friends and family together and nibble on great desserts and catch up on the year.”  Whether you host it in the late afternoon or post-dinner, at this time of year, no one turns down an excuse to gleefully indulge. 

Check out these three delicious recipes from Fanny Lam, and use them all for your Just Desserts soirée!



Cranberry Lime Shortbread Tart 


Why Lam Loves It

“I love the colors in this one, and I use a shortbread crust instead of traditional pastry,” says Lam. “It literally melts in your mouth!” 

Makes a 9-inch tart.



Vanilla Shortbread Crust

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt


Cranberry Lime Curd

4 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup lime juice

2 teaspoons lime zest

1/2 cup water

4 egg yolks

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Whipped Cream Topping 

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/4 cup fresh cranberries

1 teaspoon lime zest




Vanilla Shortbread Crust


Grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in the vanilla until combined. Sift in the flour and salt. Mix on low speed until just incorporated.

Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of the prepared pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely.


Cranberry Lime Curd


Cook the cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, lime juice, lime zest and water on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries are popped and release their juice. 

Pulse the mixture in a food processor. Blend in the egg yolks, remaining sugar and cornstarch until combined. 

Cook the mixture again on low heat while whisking for 10 minutes, until thickened.

Remove from heat. Mix in the butter until combined. Strain the mixture to make it smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Fill the cooled crust with the cranberry lime curd. Refrigerate the tart until set, at least 4 hours.


Whipped Cream Topping


Whisk the cream and sugar until firm peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag with a star tip. Remove the tart from the pan. Pipe the whipped cream along the edges of the tart. Top with cranberries and lime zest. 



Fall Spice Cake With Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Why Lam Loves It

“So easy to put together, and the spices with the cream cheese frosting is the perfect combination. It would not be a holiday season at our house without the smell of cinnamon in the kitchen. This cake, packed with the fall spice aroma, is incredibly moist and flavorful. The slight tang of the cream cheese with a vibrant lemon punch provides a complementary note to this heart-warming dessert on any chilly autumn day.


Makes an 8-inch, 2-layer cake.

Fall Spice Cake


2 cups all-purpose flour


2 teaspoons baking powder


1 teaspoon baking soda


1/2 teaspoon salt


1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1 teaspoon ground ginger


1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


1/2 cup granulated sugar


1/2 cup vegetable oil


1/2 cup honey


1 large egg, room temperature


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup sour cream, room temperature


Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


1 cup cream cheese, softened


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened


1 tablespoon lemon juice


1 cup powdered sugar



Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. 


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar, oil and honey on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla. 


Reduce the speed to low and mix in half of the flour mixture, the sour cream and then the remaining half of the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated between each addition.


Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the cake center comes out clean.


Let the cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely. 


Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter and lemon juice on medium speed for a few minutes. 


Add the sugar, continue beating on low speed until the sugar is incorporated. Turn up the speed to medium, and beat the frosting until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  




Place one cake layer on the serving plate. Spread the frosting on top. Place another cake layer over the frosting. Gently press down a little. Frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. 



Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars

Why Lam Loves It


“When it comes to parties, bite-size desserts are very important, and caramel is such a lovely holiday flavor.”


Makes 20 squares.




Pecan Shortbread Crust


2/3 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces


3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


1/3 cup granulated sugar


1 teaspoon salt




1 cup cream cheese, softened


1 cup sour cream, room temperature


1/2 cup granulated sugar


2 large eggs, room temperature


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/2 teaspoon salt


Salted Caramel


1/2 cup granulated sugar


2 tablespoons water


3 tablespoons unsalted butter


1/4 cup heavy whipping cream


2 teaspoons sea salt flakes




Pecan Shortbread Crust


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. In a food processor, mix together all the ingredients until the mixture resembles wet sand. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. 


Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely. 




Lower the oven temperature to 250°F.


In a clean food processor, blend together the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until combined. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and salt. 


Pour the filling over the cooled crust into the pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove the air bubbles in the batter. 


Bake the cheesecake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the edge of the cheesecake is puffed but the center is still wobbly and wet-looking. Turn off the oven with the door slightly opened. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven to cool completely, at least an hour. Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight.


Article by Mosaic and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley.

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