Sonata Senior Living’s Holiday Dessert Collection

The holidays are an especially joyous time at Sonata Senior Living and this year we have a lot to celebrate. To show appreciation to our families what could be sweeter than passing down traditions and connecting through food? In the spirit of sharing, we couldn’t think of a better way to pass on our traditions than to post the most prized of Sonata’s holiday desserts.

Dining services and desserts are an essential part of the holiday season at Sonata Senior Living and one of many reasons why our residents love living at our independent living and assisted living communities.

Enjoy this collection of holiday dessert recipes courtesy of our executive chefs.


Coquita panna cotta by sonata west

Panna cotta, which means cooked cream in Italian, is an Italian dessert made of sweetened cream and thickened with gelatin. A traditional Puerto Rican holiday beverage with roots dating back to the 1900s, Coquito means “little coconut” in Spanish and is made with rum, fresh coconut milk and cream. Put them together and voilà! You have Sonata Senior Living’s most beloved holiday pudding.


  • 2 – 13.5 oz cans (382g) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 (6g) teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 packets (7g) unflavored gelatin
  • 15 oz can coconut cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup white or aged rum


  • In the medium sauce pot, heat coconut milk, heavy cream, coconut cream, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Add the rum and the gelatin and whisk until everything get fully combined. Do not boil the liquid.
  • Retire from the heat and serve in a 7oz silicone mold and store in the refrigerator at least 4 to 6 hours.



pumpkin spice cake at sonata

Pumpkin desserts are a holiday classic and added to everything from pies to parfaits to cake pops. At Sonata Senior Living, our favorite pumpkin recipe combines the powerful and nostalgic aroma of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spices with the crunchiness of pecans and creaminess of caramel for an explosion of fall flavor.

Ingredients – Pumpkin Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbs ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup room temperature butter
  • 4 eggs room temperature
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients – Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup room temperature butter
  • 16 oz room temperature cream cheese
  • 5 to 6 cups powdered sugar

Ingredients – Caramel Pecan Topping:

  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 12 tbs butter room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions For Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Prepare cake pans with none stick spray, or butter pans thoroughly.
  • In a large mixing bowl add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and sugar, and mix well.
  • In a separate medium size bowl, add pumpkin, butter, eggs and vanilla, and mix well until fully incorporated.
  • Add wet ingredients into the dry batter bowl and slowly incorporate all wet ingredients. Mix until batter is smooth with no lumps. Try not to over mix.
  • Evenly distribute the cake between the 3 pans. Carefully drop the cake pans on the counter to get out all air bubbles.
  • Bake for 20-25 mins until middle of the cake is completely done. Remove from oven and allow to completely cool before frosting.

Directions For Icing:

  • In a large bowl (stand kitchen mixer or handheld mixer is best for this) add cream cheese and butter and mix on medium speed for about 2-3 mins or until fully mixed.
  • Add cinnamon and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Slowly beat in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until you reach the desired thickness (stiff peaks). Set aside.
  • When cake is cooled, frost cakes, set aside and make caramel pecan topping.

Directions for Topping:

  • Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, add sugar and water stir to dissolve completely. Allow mixture to come up to a boil and turn down to a simmer.
  • Gently stir mixture to keep from burning. Cook mixture until it reaches an amber or honey color.
  • When it reaches this stage, add butter and mix until completely incorporated.
  • Remove from heat and add in heavy cream and whisk until completely combined.
  • Add pecans and vanilla, mix well, and set aside to cool.
  • Let cool for about 20 mins. When cooled, pour over top and allow it to run down the sides of the cake.


smores bread pudding sonata coconut creek

The tradition of making s’mores hearkens back to family camping trips and relaxing evenings around the campfire. At Sonata, our third-place winner blends the lovely, gooey texture of bread pudding with the nostalgia of family camping trips to offer our residents a Sonata-style s’mores tradition.

You’ll need oven-safe ramekins to make Sonata Senior Living Executive Chef Gaspard’s award-winning S’mores Bread Pudding recipe.


  • 8 cups loosely packed challah cubes (about 1 inch)
  • 2-1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, plus more if desired
  • 1-1/3 cup mini marshmallows, plus more if desired
  • Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for buttering the ramekins
  • 4 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Place the bread cubes into a large mixing bowl.
  • In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, cocoa powder and egg.
  • Pour the liquid mixture on top of the bread, then add the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Gently stir and make sure all the bread is covered with the liquid.
  • Butter two 16-ounce oven-safe ramekins. Add 1 tablespoon of graham cracker crumbs to each and tap them all around to coat the insides completely with crumbs.
  • Evenly divide the bread pudding mixture between the ramekins and top with more chocolate chips and marshmallows, if desired.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. If the marshmallows start to turn too brown during the baking process, you can lightly cover with foil.
  • Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Dining Services at Sonata Senior Living

The holidays are a wonderful time for friends and family to reconnect at Sonata Senior Living. Every holiday season, the executive chefs at Sonata Senior Living surprise and delight residents of our independent living and assisted living communities with tasty treats filled with holiday goodness. Our chefs recreate the nostalgia of the holidays with resort-style feasts for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthday parties and other special events and a registered dietician signs off on every menu for nutritional value.

In addition to our signature desserts, dining services at Sonata Senior Living communities feature a healthy and nutritious menu during the holidays and all year long. We integrate fresh Florida produce whenever possible to promote healthy aging  and a specialized dementia diet for residents of our memory care communities.

Please join us this holiday season to learn more about dining services at Sonata Senior Living or schedule a visit to a community near you.


Expect More At Sonata

Visit a Sonata community and find out why putting service first has allowed us to continually raise the bar in senior living and exceed our residents’ expectations.