Pumpkin pie. It’s creamy. It’s sweet. It’s a tiny bit tangy. It was here long before everyone else jumped on the pumpkin craze. And on many Thanksgiving buffet tables, it’s a staple.
But is it really necessary? Let’s face it. The most expected of holiday desserts is not unlike your aunt Judy: there mostly out of tradition, but not adding much to the party.
It’s a Thanksgiving shame, isn’t it? To serve up a spectacular meal with six months worth of carbs and your own personal stick of butter, only to end it with an extra-long spray of Reddi-wip in a feeble attempt to yum-up your pie?
You can do better. With these seven decadent desserts:
1. Curry Flavor
If you’re adding a modern twist to your Thanksgiving meal this year (Hello, sautéed green beans and pecans instead of green bean casserole, and turmeric and cumin-spiced sweet potatoes instead of plain old spuds!), continue the theme onto the dessert table. This Butterscotch Pie with Curry Crust adds a creamy, zesty finish to the meal.
“Curry powder in the crust sounds weird, but trust us—it’s mandatory (and crazy-good),” said Bon Appetit. A generous sprinkling of crushed cashews on top of the whipped cream makes it even more tempting.
2. Sophisticated Lady
Festive and decadent, this White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake makes great use of a Thanksgiving afterthought—the maligned cranberry that too often gets plopped in jellied form straight from a can into whatever bowl is left—while creating sophisticated flavors your guests won’t be able to resist. The combination of chocolate wafer bars and semisweet chocolate gives the crust a tasty foundation for the creamy cheescake it supports.
3. Pumpkin 2.0
You don’t have to completely forgo pumpkin to create a tasty final course. Change it up—and lighten it up— with this Cuban Pumpkin Flan. The recipe calls for a dash of cayenne to give it some zip, and a suggestion to serve it alongside a glass of sipping rum. Olé!
4. Pretty In Pecan
Speaking of alcohol…you know what’s better than a Pecan Pie? A pecan pie with rum. Plus, a little espresso to undo the effects of the tryptophan. And some brown butter thrown in, just in case the pie wasn’t quite rich enough.
Hold. Us. Back.
5. The Apple of Your Pie
Apples are also in abundance in fall, but before you start making lattice for the top of a mom-and-pop pie, break out your prettiest tall glasses and make these Caramel Apple Parfaits instead. Buttermilk and molasses give the cake some richness, while the sticky caramel sauce is the perfect complement to the tart Granny Smith apples.
6. The Bite of Cider
Or, skip the apple and go the cider route, with this Cinnamon and Vanilla Flavored Panna Cotta that’s topped with an apple cider gelee. This super elegant dessert is as tasty as it is pretty, and, if the kids at Thanksgiving can get past the name, they’ll be treated to a dessert that tastes like “a Creamsicle because it successfully combines creamy and tangy flavors,” said Food and Wine.
7. Pumpkin Pie Revisited
If you just can’t go without a pumpkin pie, make the ultimate version by adding a mega dose of caramel. This Caramel Pumpkin Pie is cooked in a deep quiche pan, which gives it a unique shape and also creates a pie with 12 servings. Carmelizing the sugar “laces this classic with a sensuous richness, extraordinary in the context of this unbelievably light and delicately spiced pie,” said Epicurious.
Perhaps sensuality is what your pumpkin pie was missing all along.