Thanksgiving Desserts

If you’re like me, by the time November hits you’re already thinking ahead to Thanksgiving desserts. The holiday meal, of course, has plenty to offer, but what stands out more to your guests than the grand finale? Whether you are looking for simple or classic fall flavors, or want to try something a little different this year, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite Thanksgiving Desserts. Of course, if you want to keep it simple, you can always make a classic apple pie. Or better yet, if your guest list is big enough make the apple pie and one or two of these recipes.

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Rustic Almond Coffee Cake with Cranberries

Cranberry Almond Coffee Cake

This is a cake from Zoë Bakes Cakes and in the book, I baked it with grapes; juicy, sweet, but slightly tart, table grapes. It’s curious why grapes are rarely used in baking, unless dried into raisins. They are juicy and have such a wide range of sweetness and flavor, depending on the variety. They’re also a perfect match for almond paste, an ingredient with which I’m more than just a bit smitten; there are so many ways to play with the slightly creamy, earthy flavor. Together with the olive oil, the combination makes a gorgeous cake that’s just as suited for a holiday table as it is for a Tuesday-morning coffee cake. The moist cake is also one that lasts for days, so if you need a cake you can bake ahead for your holiday morning, this is the one!

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Meringue Cake with Roasted Pears

Meringue Cake with Roasted Pears

I started the Zoë Bakes blog in 2007 as a way to stay connected to pastry while I was raising my boys and working on the Breadin5 bread books. I quickly found my community of online peers and Aran Goyoaga and her blog, Cannelle et Vanille, was at the center of it. Her recipes and photography stood out and became the bar the rest of us tried to reach. All these years later I am still striving to create the beauty she seems to produce with such immense grace and ease as if pastry is an innate talent. She grew up in a baking family and so, perhaps she was born with a touch of magic in her hand.

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Pumpkin Cake with Balsamic Cinnamon Meringue and Bittersweet Ganache

A slice of pumpkin cake with cinnamon meringue and layers of bittersweet ganache

This is a cake I recently baked at the Cherry Bombe Cooks & Books event in Brooklyn. All of the recipes are from Zoë Bakes Cakes, but I rearranged them into this sassy layer cake with a toasted meringue top. The pumpkin bundt cake from the book, can be baked as rounds, then separated by chocolate ganache and topped with the Swiss Meringue Topping. I decided for the sake of fall flavors and wanting to temper the sweetness of the meringue, I added an aged balsamic vinegar and ground cinnamon to the whipped peaks, before spiking it onto the cake and setting it ablaze with a blow torch. The recipes and directions to recreate the cake are below.

The cake layers were baked the day before, wrapped, and refrigerated. The chocolate ganache was also made ahead and just set at room temperature so it would be easy to spread. The day of the event I made the meringue and assembled the cake in front of an in-person crowd, while talking (it had been a while since I’d seen humans, so I had a lot to say) and got the cake finished in about 20 minutes. All of this is to say, that if you work ahead, a cake like this doesn’t take long to create. It absolutely can be made in one go, but you can decide how it best fits your schedule.

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Hot Chocolate Layer Cake

Hot Chocolate Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

This hot chocolate cake from Zoë Bakes Cakes is unbelievably delicious! Combining layers of moist Devil’s Food cake and creamy, luscious chocolate frosting, the entire cake is topped with homemade toasted marshmallows. This recipe is the perfect dessert for any occasion!

With hot chocolate as its inspiration, it has layers of Devil’s food, slathered with a deep, dark, luscious chocolate icing, that is like whipped ganache, but better, then I topped the whole thing in homemade marshmallows. I am not a big fan of bagged marshmallows, which taste like sweet, dried out sponges, but the homemade version are amongst my favorite treats. When they are toasted, with a torch, of course, they are soft, melty and delicious. You can flavor them with anything from vanilla to cardamom, or even swirl in chocolate.

I made this cake twice, once with my tried and true Devil’s food and then again for my friend, Stephanie Meyer’s birthday. Stephanie (Fresh Tart) doesn’t eat gluten, so I made the cake with a gluten-free flour blend and it came out just great. This cake was inspired by a cake I saw years ago in Fine Cooking Magazine.

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