It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to planning holiday menus, but there are plenty of creative Thanksgiving dessert ideas that have nothing to do with pie or pumpkin. This year mix things up with an autumnal dessert that feeds a crowd, but strays ever so slightly from the expected. From a stunning apple galette to a gingerbread trifle, there’s a tart, cake, and pudding for every taste.
Bread pudding is one of life’s great, simple pleasures. This recipe gives new life to stale baguette or country bread, soaking it in a custard of eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices to help it bake up moist and cake-like. Dried cranberries are scattered over the top before baking to make this version particularly apropos for Thanksgiving.
This stunner of a dessert uses frozen, store-bought puff pastry to create an elegant, sweet treat that’s prettier than pie. A homemade frangipane – made here with pistachios in place of the traditional almonds – creates a surprising, beautifully flavored layer under the apple slices.
If you’d like to incorporate a chocolate cake into your Thanksgiving spread that feels special, then consider this classic German Black Forest Cake. Here, rich chocolate cake is layered with a filling of poached cherries and kirsch-flavored whipped cream for a decadent and beautiful treat. When cherries aren’t in season (ahem, November), swap in frozen ones or already poached jarred cherries to simplify things.
Need more Thanksgiving dessert ideas? For something truly different this year, consider this nougat glacé aux figues et gingembre – i.e. iced terrine of fig and ginger. Akin to a fancy french ice cream, this recipe incorporates dried figs, candied ginger, and candied orange and lemon peel along with pistachios, cinnamon, and cardamom for a study in textural and flavor contrasts. Plus, it can be made days ahead and serves a crowd so is an ideal addition to the holiday menu.
A simple yet elegant dessert, this Italian almond tart layers a basic tart dough with jam and a creamy, sweet almond mixture. Topped with thinly sliced almonds for crunch and an eye-catching visual element, this tart would be the perfect end to a Thanksgiving feast alongside a cup of coffee or espresso.
If you’re looking for Thanksgiving dessert ideas, look no further than this gingerbread trifle. With layers of moist gingerbread spice quick bread, pastry cream, poached pears, and whipped cream, this dessert screams holiday. The poached pears and pastry cream can be made the day before, so on Thanksgiving all you have to do is make the quick bread and assemble (one word: delegate!).
Find another use for fresh or frozen cranberries this Thanksgiving with this easy cranberry upside-down cake. A super simple batter is poured over sugary melted butter and cranberries, then flipped after baking for a sweet-tart end to your holiday meal.
Autumn is pear season, making Thanksgiving the perfect excuse to highlight the seasonal bounty with this pear and frangipane tart. Homemade almond paste is flavored with rum, vanilla and almond extracts, and lemon zest and topped with picturesque fanned pear quarters in this delightful tart.