Unusual recipes

Decadent Thanksgiving Desserts

Decadent Thanksgiving Desserts


The best fellowship occurs when sharing great food together. They're holiday-pretty and wonderfully indulgent, giving you a full blast of flavor and satisfaction. When the turkey, gravy, stuffing, and sides are all consumed and put away, bring out one (or more) of these show-stopping Thanksgiving desserts. Each recipe highlights a sweet treat that is seasonal and bound to be special to your family for years to come. From classic pumpkin pie to a stunningly beautiful grape galette, our collection of holiday desserts has a little something for everyone.

Decadent Thanksgiving Desserts

Pecan-Date Pie

Our 100% whole-grain pie shaves more than one-third of the sugar and calories off the classic, and it cuts saturated fat in half. Toasting the pecans intensifies their flavor and adds notes of caramel.

Apple Galette With Vanilla Yogurt Drizzle

Rustic is gorgeous—that’s never been more true than with this fall apple tart. We save on sat fat and make the crust more tender by swapping in low-fat yogurt for some of the butter (use standard yogurt, not Greek-style). Make dough ahead and refrigerate or freeze (just remember to thaw completely before rolling). Cutting the apple crosswise for a “star” shape in the center of each slice adds a special touch, but any slice will work. You can sub the scraped seeds from one vanilla bean pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for the vanilla bean paste.

Brown Butter Cake with Cocoa

This impressive-looking dessert takes only 15 minutes to throw together, making it a great last-minute dessert for entertaining. There's no need to pull out the stand mixer either. A whisk is all you'll need to mix ingredients. A good bit of salt enhances all the flavors here.

Apple Spice Bundt Cake With Cider Glaze

Don’t be afraid to go 100% whole-grain with desserts; we use all spelt flour here with amazing results. The nutty flour boosts the taste of the butter, spices, and vanilla, unlike all-purpose flour, whose bland nature would dilute those flavors. Be sure to weigh the flour for accuracy; using too much will make the cake dry.

Grapefruit-Campari Bars With Shortbread Crust

Treat yourself to a sophisticated riff on lemon bars. This grown-up treat embraces the bitterness in both grapefruit and Campari, balancing the flavor with a rich, buttery shortbread crust. When we create our healthier desserts, we think about where the fat will be best used—we strategically place it where it will make the most difference. Here, a good amount of butter goes into the whole-wheat crust to give it an irresistible shortbread-like texture. Just be sure to lightly pat the crust in place; if you press too hard and compact it into the baking dish, it will become dense and tough.

Parsnip Spice Cake with Caramel Icing

We took a look at the original recipe published in 2003 and decided to update it with less sugar and more whole grains. Instead of boiling the parsnips, we roast them to concentrate their sweetness; this allows us to use less added sugar. We also switched from refined all-purpose flour to whole-wheat pastry flour, and simplified the format to a sheet cake. A few tweaks later, we had a moist, tender, tastier spice cake capped with an indulgent caramel-flavored cream cheese icing.

Ginger Coins

Three kinds of ginger define this zippy cookie, which cookbook author and culinary instructor Andrea Nguyen has been baking and tweaking since the mid-1990s from Barbara Tropp’s China Moon Cookbook. For good results, have the butter at moderate room temperature (64°F to 68°F), not melting in the wrapper. If you don’t have crystallized ginger, they’ll still be tasty.

Macadamia-Almond Cake

The texture of this cake is ethereal—it’s moist and airy, yet filled with rich flavor from the macadamia nuts and almond flour. Keep in mind, if you use our formula for homemade almond flour, you won’t have a gluten-free product. If you want a gluten-free option you can purchase store-bought almond flour—just check the label to make sure the only ingredient listed is almonds. Cool this cake thoroughly before slicing for the best results. This cake will keep for 2 to 3 days, but the sugary crust won’t last more than a day. If you want to substitute hazelnut flour, you can, with similarly spectacular results.

Mini Hazelnut Tarts

There are many make-ahead opportunities for preparing this dessert, so you can have it on hand whenever you want. The hazelnut dough can be made and frozen for up to 3 months. Form it into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap for added protection against freezer burn, and slip the wrapped dough into a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Thaw the dough, still wrapped, in the refrigerator. You can also form and bake the tart shells a day ahead, and store them at room temperature; or you can cool them completely, wrap in aluminum foil, transfer to a zip-top plastic freezer bag, and freeze for up to 1 month. The filling comes together in minutes, but you can mix it 2 days ahead and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the tarts. Bring the filling back to room temperature before spooning it into the tart shells.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

A quick homemade caramel sauce that’s folded into fresh apple slices and baked in a whole-grain crust takes this classic holiday pie to the next level. A hint of salt in the sauce intensifies the apple flavor and balances the sweetness. Apples contain a natural thickener called pectin; grating some of the fruit will ensure a gooey, cohesive mixture once baked. Crisp, sweet Fuji apples bake beautifully and will contrast the salty caramel. You can also use Cripps Pink or Honeycrisp apples.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake With Chocolate Glaze

We take the classic flavors of pumpkin pie (pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg) and transform them into a tall, moist, tender Bundt cake. Whole-wheat flour enhances the fall flavors without sacrificing the tender crumb. To finish it off: a smooth, shiny bittersweet chocolate glaze that drips into all the nooks and crannies. Look for baking spray (cooking spray with fine flour added), or simply coat the pan with cooking spray, add a tablespoon of flour, and shake gently to coat. If you don't have a Bundt pan, you can bake in two standard loaf pans. Cut the loaves into slices, and drizzle the glaze over each serving.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

A few easy additions to store-bought ice cream create a custom flavor that simply tastes like Thanksgiving.

Double-Crust Apple Pie

The simple act of sharing something sweet that's been made with care brings such tremendous joy. Good desserts conjure good times and cheerful celebrations—and it's not only the taste but the shared memories that are integral to our appreciation. So go ahead and show off.

A double crust on this pie seals in the apples' natural juices as the pie bakes for full-on apple flavor. Tossing the apples with apple juice keeps them from browning as you peel and slice them, and it adds a boost of apple flavor.

Mile-High Coconut Cupcakes

A mound of creamy whipped topping crowns these Mile-High Coconut Cupcakes and complements the light and fluffy base.

Hibiscus Poached Pears

The rosy hue of the hibiscus syrup is a holiday showstopper. Drizzle over spiced poached pears for a dessert that's a bit lighter, gluten-free, and still feels holiday-special. The key to beautifully poached pears is to cook them in just enough liquid to submerge the fruit—any more and the flavor from the spices may be lost. A parchment paper topper and a plate will keep liquid from evaporating too quickly. Reduce additional poaching liquid and reserve as the base for holiday cocktails, the sweet component of a salad dressing, or a drizzle for your cheese board.

For a vegan version, leave out the 1/2 cup of crème fraîche.

Roasted Grape and Pear Kuchen

Get creative with the toppings for this classic yeast cake: Try tart Granny Smith apples or sweet pineapple in place of pears, or a dollop of tangy Greek yogurt instead of whipped topping.

Grape Galette

Take a break from traditional holiday pies and try this grape tart instead. The grapes become tender and intensely juicy in the oven. Floral, slightly bitter marmalade helps to bind the filling and balance the fruit. Let the galette sit at room temperature while you complete your holiday prep so the juices can thicken. Warm in a 300°F oven for 10 minutes before serving.

Iced Gingerbread Biscotti

For an elegant spin on a cookie cutter favorite, transform your gingerbread people into classy sticks of iced biscotti. With just the right amount of crunch, these are the perfect after-dinner snack that you should definitely dunk in a cup of coffee or hot cocoa. Be sure to let the cookie logs cool after the first bake so they slice cleanly and don't crumble.

Sweet Potato Pie

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

An alternative to the old-fashioned pumpkin pie, this gluten-free sweet potato dessert is seasoned to perfection with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Serve with a large dollop of light whipped topping dusted with nutmeg, and savor each heavenly bite.

Pecan Sticky Wedges

The yeasted dough for this heavenly take on sticky buns develops even more flavor when refrigerated overnight. All you have to do the next day is pop the pan in the oven.

Apple-Cinnamon Bundt Cake

A homey comfort classic made special with a dusting of sugar and a hidden filling of apples and nuts.

Maple-Pecan Pie

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a pecan pie. If you have gluten-free family members, this pie will be a real treat for them.

Extreme Lemon and Chocolate Roulade

Lemon and chocolate are a lovely and lively pair in this roulade. If you prefer milder lemon flavor, you can omit the rind from the filling. Or, if you are a bold lemon lover, don't strain the rind out of the filling—enjoy the tartness and texture it provides.

Chocolate Chip Cream Puffs

Stir the chocolate chips into the warm dough by hand because the power of the mixer would forcefully combine the melting chips into the dough, making it brown chocolate dough instead of dough studded with chocolate chips.

Maple Pumpkin Pie With a Message

To use up the leftover pumpkin, try adding some to a breakfast smoothie, or stir into pancake batter. Or combine with a splash of half-and-half, season with sage, and toss with pasta.

Apple, Pear, and Cranberry Crisp

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

The tart and tangy cranberries complement the sweet apples and pears in this warm, streusel-topped delight. Try serving it à la mode as the grand finale of a holiday dinner.

Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Tart

A fluffy, delightful hybrid—part classic spiced pumpkin pie, part creamy cheesecake. Wrap foil around the springform pan to make sure water doesn’t sneak in from the water bath.

French Apple Tart

This free-form apple tart is mighty easy, because it works from a store-bought crust.

Caramel-Pecan Dacquoise

A perfect dessert dialectic: crunchy and creamy textures, sweet and bittersweet flavors.

Maple-Gingerbread Pots de Crème

The crackly counterpoint to the silky custards occurs when you sprinkle a thin layer of sugar on top and broil to melt. The caramel hardens as it cools.

Quince Tart with Pine Nut Caramel Glaze

For that elegant dinner, consider a pine nut-studded quince tart—an exotic Old World sweet to give thanks for. Quince is a hard fall fruit with sweet-tangy flavor. You'll find quince paste in specialty stores and most supermarkets.

Sugar Pumpkin Custards With Graham Crumble

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

These sweet custards are the perfect ending for an autumn dinner party.

Apple Hand Pies

Skip the fork. Have your guests enjoy these charming handheld treats with a steaming cup of coffee.

Ginger Pumpkin Pie With Toasted Coconut

Ginger and coconut add warm, flavorful accents to this fall classic. If you'd like a dollop of something creamy, top with fat-free whipped topping.

Spiced Caramel Bundt Cake

Photo: Courtesy of Oxmoor House

Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg give this gluten-free cake its signature spiced flavor, and applesauce lends moistness while allowing you to use less oil. A drizzle of golden caramel syrup is the finishing touch, making this the perfect "ta-da!" dessert.

Maple-Walnut Cranberry Pie

While the buttery, maple-scented filling is inspired by classic pecan pie, we swap in toasted walnuts and add chopped fresh cranberries for a beautiful pop of color and tart flavor contrast that cuts the sweetness.

Caramel-Apple Cheesecake

This creamy cheesecake combines the pleasant tartness of apples with the buttery sweetness of caramel to really showcase fall flavors.

Whole-Grain Apple Cake with Yogurt Cream

Apple cake has delicious versatility: It's a fall family favorite that not only satisfies that between-the-meal and post-dinner sweet spot but also works wonders in the wee hours of the morning with a warm cup of coffee.

Chocolate Walnut Tart

A riff on the classic pecan pie, this dessert is rich, chocolaty, and a little fancier with its freestanding fluted sides. Of course, you can use a 9-inch pie plate if you don't have a tart pan with a removable bottom.

Cranberry-Apple Pie

This juicy double-crusted beauty combines two favorite fall flavors. We suggest using grade B maple syrup in the pie filling because it is less refined and has a stronger maple taste, though grade A will work just fine in this recipe.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

We love the zingy burst of cranberries, and their crimson hue enlivens any table. Since they have a short season, freeze a few bags to stock up. Place the fresh fruit on a jelly-roll pan and freeze. Transfer the frozen berries to zip-top plastic bags.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Torte

Here’s the secret: You can make this pumpkin torte well ahead and freeze it. Perfect for a hectic day of cooking.


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