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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Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Irish Cream

Bittersweet chocolate tart with shortbread crust and piped whipped cream with chocolate shavings.

By now I am sure you’re aware of my dear friend Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Blog. If you’ve watched Zoë Bakes on Magnolia Network, you’ve seen us make her famous pan-banging cookies together. Sarah even photographed me doing the how-to photos in my latest cookbook, Zoë Bakes Cakes. We go way back.

So it makes me very excited to tell you about Sarah’s brand new cookbook, Baking for the Holidays! This book is so beautiful, but that’s what we’ve all come to expect from Sarah. It’s filled with more than 50 recipes for easy morning pastries, treats to serve at your holiday table, ideas for gifting (Caramel candies! Turtle bars! Peppermint bark!), and so many more recipes that will quickly become family traditions. She’s also a genius story teller and even included a section of music to bake to. You know how much I love dancing in the kitchen!

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Apple Butter Rose Tart

Apple Butter Rose Tart | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

This apple butter rose tart was inspired by Rory MacDonald’s new cookbook, bake. His book is full sweets, from flaky morning pastries to intricate plated desserts. It’s a book about a pastry chef taking you through the process of a restaurant kitchen, but he made the recipes accessible for the home cook. It is a beautiful book and his apple tart recipe intrigued me the second I turned to the page.

His apple design is a super sleek spiral, whereas mine went a bit more girly and romantic. I used a vegetable turner, as he suggested, to slice the apples as thin as possible and rolled them tight into rosettes. The ruffles that formed as the apples passed through the turner reminded me of fabric and I loved the effect so much that I just gathered the apple as it fell and piled it into the center of the tart. This tart has so few ingredients and yet the finished dessert is quite striking and intricate looking, perfect for a special occasion. You can watch me put together the apple butter rose tart in my instagram video and recipe is below. 

Apple Butter Rose Tart | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François
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Apple Tarte Tatin

Apple Tarte Tatin | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

The Apple Tarte Tatin is a quintessentially French dessert. There are really two styles of french pastry, the super fussy, Marie Antoinette style creations that are almost too beautiful to eat and look nearly impossible to create and then the country-side, rustic sweets that are more delicious than beautiful.

I say this falls into the second category, but I think it is stunningly beautiful with its rich caramel apples and flaky pastry peeking out from under them. Rustic yes, but no less sophisticated than a Croquembouche or Paris-Brest, in my mind. 

I was inspired to make this Apple Tarte Tatin when the latest issue of Bake From Scratch Magazine arrived and Susan Spungen‘s Tarte was on the cover. Before I even opened the magazine I was preparing it in my head.

The weather here in Minnesota is newsworthy and we are expecting the temperature to fall below -60 degrees F, so I need to make the Apple Tarte Tatin with the ingredients I have on hand, since I will NOT be leaving the house to shop. I don’t have puff pastry made and although Susan’s extra flaky dough is faster than the traditional dough, it still requires more time than I have today, so I got creative and made a very non-traditional baklava-like crust. I simply layered phyllo dough with honey, butter, vanilla and walnuts until I had a crust worthy of the caramelized apples. It is just as flaky and adds a bit of depth and character. Both ways are terrific and Susan’s article in the magazine is all about the classic and the reinvented (she made gorgeous pineapple and savory tomato versions as well), so I think she’ll approve! 

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