7 Enticing Desserts to Serve Your Thanksgiving Guests
The sweetest part of Thanksgiving comes after the main meal has been served and we’ve sufficiently stuffed ourselves with turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. We’re talking about dessert, which is the perfect time to highlight the season’s finest fruits and warmest spices in your cakes, tarts, pies, bars, and cobblers. Whether you want to prepare a heavenly Chocolate Black Bottom Pie or a perfect-tasting Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cobbler, these recipes will ensure you have enticing sweets to serve your family and friends. Make sure you end your Thanksgiving feast on a delicious note by preparing one (or more!) of these 7 dreamy desserts.
1. Cranberry Tart with Nut Crust
The Kitchn blends the crust’s nutty flavors with maple sugar and tart cranberries, creating a lovely dessert that finds the perfect balance between fall’s very best flavors. If you’d like to sweeten this dish even more, we suggest serving it with Food Network’s Homemade Whipped Cream.
- 4 cups (16 ounces) fresh (or defrosted) whole cranberries
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup golden syrup
- Zest of ½ unwaxed lemon
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup nut flour
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
- 1-3 tablespoons cold water
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar and golden syrup over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Add the cranberries and lemon zest and turn over several times to coat evenly with the sugar mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. To prepare the dough, if using a food processor, combine the dry ingredients in the processor bowl and pulse to combine. Drop in the butter pieces and pulse several times until the consistency of oatmeal.
If preparing by hand, combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter pieces and cut in with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture is the consistency of oatmeal. Continue preparing the dough by adding the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough just barely comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto the counter and gather up and shape into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Unwrap the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a rough 9-inch circle. Carefully transfer to a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
Press the dough into the pan and then form a lip around the edge by turning the pan while gently pinching the lip between your left thumb on the outside and right thumb and forefinger on the inside. Chill the prepared pan for 10-15 minutes. When ready to bake, remove the prepared pan from the refrigerator and prick the bottom a few times with the tines of a fork. Line the bottom of the tart shell with pie weights or a layer of parchment paper and uncooked beans. Bake for 10 minutes or until crust begins to show some drying and browning.
Remove the tart shell from the oven and pour the cool cranberry mixture into the shell, spreading it out from the middle so as not to drip on the lip of the crust. Drizzle any remaining sugar mixture from the pan throughout the shell, again avoiding the lip of the tart. Bake for another 30 minutes, or until crust deepens in color and the filling is bubbling. Cool on a wire rack. Carefully remove the outer ring, and serve while still warm, or at room temperature. Top with a scoop of ice cream, or a dollop of cream.
2. Double-Crust Apple Pie
If you firmly believe that crust is the best part of a pie, you will adore Good Housekeeping’s Double-Crust Apple Pie. From the flaky, melt-in-your-mouth dough to the breathtaking apple filling, this dish is pie perfection. It yields 10 servings.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons cold butter or margarine, cut up
- 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- 6½ tablespoons ice water
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3½ pounds Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and/or Braeburn apples, each peeled, cored, and cut into 16 wedges
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut up
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Directions: To prepare the pastry, in food processor with knife blade attached, blend flour and salt. Add butter and shortening, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until large moist crumbs just begin to form. Shape dough into 2 balls, 1 slightly larger. Flatten each into a disk; wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight. If chilled overnight, let stand 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cookie sheet on rack in lower third of preheating oven to bake pie on later.
To prepare apple filling, in large bowl, combine sugar with cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add apples and lemon juice, and toss to coat evenly. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll larger disk of dough into 12-inch round. Ease dough into 9½-inch deep-dish glass or ceramic pie plate. Gently press dough against bottom and up side of plate without stretching. Trim dough edge, leaving 1-inch overhang; reserve trimmings. Spoon apple mixture into pie crust; dot with butter. Roll remaining disk for top crust into 12-inch round. Center round over filling in bottom crust. Trim pastry edge, leaving 1-inch overhang; reserve trimmings. Fold overhang under; bring up over pie-plate rim and pinch to form stand-up edge, then make decorative edge.
Brush crust with some egg white. Reroll trimmings. For a decorative element, you can use a knife or cookie cutters to cut out apple and/or leaf shapes; arrange on pie. Cut short slashes in round to allow steam to escape during baking. Brush cutouts with egg white, then sprinkle crust and cutouts with sugar. Bake pie 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until apples are tender when pierced with knife through slits in crust. To prevent over-browning, cover pie loosely with tent of foil after 40 minutes. Cool pie on wire rack 3 hours to serve warm, or cool completely to serve later.
3. Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cobbler
Preparing a Thanksgiving dessert in a slow cooker is the perfect way to ensure you have an effortless and exquisite treat for your guests to enjoy. The Gunny Sack’s recipe must be cooked in a crockpot for 3 to 4 hours, so be sure you get this going before moving on to your other dishes. For an extra rich finish, we suggest drizzling The Pioneer Woman’s Easy Caramel Sauce over your cobbler before serving it.
- 3 eggs
- 1 large can of pumpkin (29 ounces)
- 12 ounces evaporated milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Butter pecan boxed cake mix
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¾ cup melted butter
Directions: Beat the eggs slightly. Add the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugars, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and vanilla. Pour the mixture into a greased slow cooker. Top with the powdered cake mix and sprinkle with brown sugar. Drizzle melted butter evenly over the top. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.
4. Bourbon Pumpkin Tart with Walnut Streusel
If you’re looking for a great pie alternative, tarts are an elegant dessert that are extraordinarily easy to prepare. Fine Cooking’s recipe creates a rich pumpkin filling that’s topped off with a stunning streusel, which adds great texture and the perfect amount of crunch. It yields 8-10 servings.
- 9 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 5½ ounces (11 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup heavy cream; more if needed
- 1 (15 ounce) can pure solid-pack pumpkin
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 3½ ounces (¾ cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ pound (½ cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¾ cup walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream for garnish (optional)
Directions: To make the crust, using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, orange zest, and salt in a large bowl on low speed for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and combine on low speed until the mixture looks crumbly, with pieces of butter about the size of dried peas, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and cream, mixing on low speed until the dough is just combined. If the dough is too dry to come together, add more cream, a tablespoon at a time. Gently mold the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to a week; the dough can also be frozen for up to a month. To make the filling, spoon the pumpkin into a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated.
Add both sugars and the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Whisk about 30 seconds. Whisk in the heavy cream and bourbon. For the streusel, combine the flour, both sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the butter has blended into the dry ingredients and the mixture is crumbly. Remove the blade and stir in the walnuts and crystallized ginger. To assemble the tart, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take the tart dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up until pliable, 5-15 minutes. Unwrap the dough and set it on a lightly floured work surface.
With as few passes of the rolling pin as possible, roll the disk into a 13-inch round. Drape the round into a 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, gently fitting it into the contours of the pan. Fold the excess dough into the sides of the pan and press to create an edge that’s flush with the top of the pan and about ½-inch thick. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the unbaked tart crust. Scatter the streusel topping evenly over the pumpkin mixture. Bake until the topping is evenly cooked and no longer looks wet in the center, 50 to 65 minutes. Let the tart cool on a rack for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve warm, at room temperature, or slightly chilled, with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if you like.
5. Mini Caramel-Apple Cheesecakes
After indulging in a heavy Thanksgiving feast, your guests will appreciate this bite-size dessert. For Mini Caramel-Apple Cheesecakes that are perfectly textured, Every Day with Rachael Ray suggests leaving the cakes in a turned-off oven with the door open for 30 minutes after baking. Note: This dish should be refrigerated overnight, so plan accordingly!
- 5 small to medium gala apples (2 pounds total)
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 8 graham cracker squares, finely chopped
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 11 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- ¾ cup sour cream
Directions: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut each quarter into 3 lengthwise slices. In a large nonstick skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples, 6 tablespoons sugar, and the lemon juice. Cook, turning occasionally, until the apples begin to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Lower the heat to low, add 1 tablespoon butter and cook until the apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Line 6 cups of a jumbo muffin pan with jumbo liners. In a small pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter, then place in a medium bowl. Mix in the graham crackers and salt. Divide the mixture among the muffin cups.
Press into the bottoms with a narrow drinking glass. Transfer to the freezer to set. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese and ½ cup sugar. Using a mixer, beat at high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl twice, until blended. Mix in the vanilla. Arrange 5 apple slices in a single layer on the crust in each muffin cup. Reserve the remaining apples with their juices at room temperature in a covered bowl. Divide the cream cheese mixture evenly among the cups; bake until set but slightly jiggly, about 20 minutes.
Turn off the oven, open the door slightly and let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight. In a small skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the walnuts and 2 tablespoons sugar and cook, stirring, until toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Cool on paper towels, then break up the candied nuts. Arrange the reserved apples with their juices on top of the cakes. Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar into the sour cream. Top the cakes with the sour cream and candied nuts.
6. Chocolate Pecan Bars
Taste of Home’s Chocolate Pecan Bars are chewy, gooey, and simply irresistible. The recipe is perfect if you’ve got a big group coming over — it yields 48 servings.
- ⅔ cup butter
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1¼ cups light corn syrup
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2¼ cups chopped pecans
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1¼ teaspoons shortening
Directions: In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in flour. Press into a greased 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt chocolate with corn syrup over low heat; stir until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add pecans. Spread evenly over hot crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until firm around the edges. Cool on a wire rack. In a microwave, melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle over bars.
7. Chocolate Black-Bottom Pie
Martha Stewart takes pie to a whole new level. The Chocolate Black-Bottom Pie is a decadent dessert that consists of a wafer crust, rum-flavored ganache, and a luxurious whipped cream topping. The recipe yields 8 servings.
- 3¼ cups heavy cream
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 tablespoon spiced rum
- 1 Easy Press-In Pie Crust
- ½ cup toasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Directions: In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave 1¼ cups cream until hot, about 3 minutes. Add chocolate and let stand until melted, 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk to combine, then whisk in rum. Pour 1½ cups chocolate mixture into crust, reserving the remaining chocolate mixture. Sprinkle nuts over top. Refrigerate pie 3 hours. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 2 cups cream with sugar on high until stiff peaks form, 2 minutes. Top pie with whipped cream, then dot with reserved chocolate mixture. With a skewer, gently swirl chocolate through whipped cream.