What's going on your Thanksgiving dessert table this year? From coast to coast it seems there is always a requisite pumpkin pie (mine has fresh ginger and a graham cracker crust). Pecan and mince pies are also required in some gatherings. But after those staunch traditions come the corner desserts, the one or two wild cards squeezed in between pies for post-dessert nibbles, or to satisfy those who will just never love pumpkin pie. These are often the most interesting desserts on the holiday table — Aunt Sue's bourbon balls, the Canadian cousins' Nanaimo bars, Mom's cranberry cake. These fill-in desserts are some of my favorites on the holiday table, so that's what we're talking about today.
Take this lineup we have for you: Cranberry curd bars in a walnut shortbread crust, (which caused a virtual stampede at the joint Thanksgiving Emma and I threw last year) and a buttery, over-the-top apple cake with a boozy sauce. There's spiced apple cider sorbet in case you want something lighter, and tender pumpkin crumb cakes. We threw in a couple pies, too, just to keep with the sweet spirit of America's biggest pie-eating day.
The best part of these desserts is that they're good all season-round; unlike pumpkin pie, which often feels bound to its traditional holiday, I'm willing to bet that most of us would happily eat a slice of browned butterscotch pie any day of the year.
• 1 Cranberry Curd Bars with Walnut Shortbread Crust - Hot pink and tangy. Total showstopper.
• 2 Cranberry Cake - Simple, rich cake with pops of fresh cranberries.
• 3 Baked Apples with Cranberry Sauce - A lighter, more fruit-centric option.
• 4 Cranberry Tart with Hazelnut Crust - Another bejeweled way to showcase cranberries and their beauty.
• 5 Spiced Apple Jellies With Yogurt Mousse - Light, refreshing, easy to make ahead.
• 6 Spiced Apple Cider Sorbet - Lovely palate-cleanser after all the richness.
• 7 Free-Form Apple Tart - Simple, perfectly elegant.
• 8 Sticky Spiked Double-Apple Cake with a Brown Sugar-Brandy Sauce - This cake takes every cake you've ever had and rolls them up into a ball. It wins, hands down.
• 9 Deconstructed Caramel Apple "Pie" À La Mode - Another lighter way to approach Thanksgiving dessert.
• 10 Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats - For the kids! (And maybe a few grownups too.)
• 11 Pumpkin Crumb Cakes - These crumb cakes are tender and gooey with spiced pumpkin.
• 12 Maple & Squash Pumpkin Pie Popsicles - Pumpkin pie, in popsicle form! Good for those of you celebrating in warmer climes.
PIES BEYOND PUMPKIN
• 13 Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie: A Corn Syrup-Free Recipe - Gotta have pecan pie, and this is the best one we know.
• 14 Browned Butter Butterscotch Pie - How can you say no?
• 15 Chocolate Chess Pie - For those of you who want a little chocolate in your Thanksgiving.
What are your favorite "fill-in" Thanksgiving desserts? Do you put out a plate of cookies? Fudge? Ice cream? What sits beside the pie on your dessert table?
Related: Break with Tradition: 6 Unconventional Thanksgiving Pies
(Images: See linked recipes for full image credits)