Vegetarian Thanksgiving Desserts
Apple Spice Bundt Cake With Cider Glaze
Don’t be afraid to go 100% whole-grain with desserts; we use all spelt flour here with amazing results. The nutty flour boosts the taste of the butter, spices, and vanilla, unlike all-purpose flour, whose bland nature would dilute those flavors. Be sure to weigh the flour for accuracy; using too much will make the cake dry.
Brown Butter Cake with Cocoa
This impressive-looking dessert takes only 15 minutes to throw together, making it a great last-minute dessert for entertaining. There's no need to pull out the stand mixer either. A whisk is all you'll need to mix ingredients. A good bit of salt enhances all the flavors here.
Parsnip Spice Cake with Caramel Icing
We took a look at the original recipe published in 2003 and decided to update it with less sugar and more whole grains. Instead of boiling the parsnips, we roast them to concentrate their sweetness; this allows us to use less added sugar. We also switched from refined all-purpose flour to whole-wheat pastry flour, and simplified the format to a sheet cake. A few tweaks later, we had a moist, tender, tastier spice cake capped with an indulgent caramel-flavored cream cheese icing.
Grapefruit-Campari Bars With Shortbread Crust
Treat yourself to a sophisticated riff on lemon bars. This grown-up treat embraces the bitterness in both grapefruit and Campari, balancing the flavor with a rich, buttery shortbread crust. When we create our healthier desserts, we think about where the fat will be best used—we strategically place it where it will make the most difference. Here, a good amount of butter goes into the whole-wheat crust to give it an irresistible shortbread-like texture. Just be sure to lightly pat the crust in place; if you press too hard and compact it into the baking dish, it will become dense and tough.
Three kinds of ginger define this zippy cookie, which cookbook author and culinary instructor Andrea Nguyen has been baking and tweaking since the mid-1990s from Barbara Tropp’s China Moon Cookbook. For good results, have the butter at moderate room temperature (64°F to 68°F), not melting in the wrapper. If you don’t have crystallized ginger, they’ll still be tasty.
Miso Caramel-Apple Pie
You've no doubt heard of—and enjoyed—salted caramel. Miso caramel takes that concept one step further, offering the irresistible salty-sweet flavor combo along with a richness that's unparalleled. You may just love this caramel so much that you want to make a big batch for yourself or to give as holiday gifts; we won't blame you. And even though this pie is rather decadent, it still comes in with 12g less sugar than a popular online version of caramel apple pie. Ever been disappointed by an apple pie where the fruit was still just a little crunchy, not tender as you'd hoped for? This recipe makes sure you end up with buttery-soft fruit by first covering the raw apple slices with boiling water to soften them before they even go in the crust.
If you can’t decide between pecan and pumpkin pie, this dessert will give you a taste of both in one slice. A quick brown sugar–pecan streusel tops the pie after it bakes; the topping will set into a crunchy layer as the pie cools. Be sure to use a standard 9-inch pie plate rather than a deep-dish one to ensure an evenly baked crust.
Roasted Grape and Pear Kuchen
Kuchen is a classic German yeast cake that’s either topped with seasonal fruit or filled with cheese or custard. Our version celebrates fall with seasonal fruit—roasted grapes and pears—and plenty of spices.
Salty Maple-Pecan Popcorn Balls
Anyone who grew up making popcorn balls will remember fondly the quick, hot work of shaping the sticky mixture into balls that would quickly set up. It’s an old-fashioned treat that we’re bringing back, because they’re a 100 percent whole-grain dessert. That’s right—popcorn is a whole grain, and popcorn balls are an easy way to turn those grains into a sweet, healthy treat for the family.
Apple Galette With Vanilla Yogurt Drizzle
Rustic is gorgeous—that’s never been more true than with this fall apple tart. We save on sat fat and make the crust more tender by swapping in low-fat yogurt for some of the butter (use standard yogurt, not Greek-style). Make dough ahead and refrigerate or freeze (just remember to thaw completely before rolling). Cutting the apple crosswise for a “star” shape in the center of each slice adds a special touch, but any slice will work. You can sub the scraped seeds from one vanilla bean pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for the vanilla bean paste.
Frozen Orange Tortes with Cranberry Compote
This decadent dessert features a jeweled cranberry topping that cascades down a fluffy ice cream filling that's a dreamy citrus cloud.
Chai Carrot Pie
Staple spice-rack spices create all the depth of classic chai tea in this luscious, carrot-packed, whole-grain dessert. It's a cross between a play on pumpkin pie and carrot cake: The texture and flavor are reminiscent of the former, and the layers—cream cheese mixture on the bottom, spiced carrot filling on top—are inspired by the latter. To get a big head start, you can make and freeze the crust up to a week ahead. A combination of butter and shortening in the crust is ideal—butter for its rich flavor, and shortening to create a flaky texture. We recommend Earth Balance shortening (found with the other shortenings in large supermarkets or health-focused stores) because, unlike most other shortenings, it contains no trans fats.
Pumpkin Bundt Cake With Chocolate Glaze
We take the classic flavors of pumpkin pie (pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg) and transform them into a tall, moist, tender Bundt cake. Whole-wheat flour enhances the fall flavors without sacrificing the tender crumb. To finish it off: a smooth, shiny bittersweet chocolate glaze that drips into all the nooks and crannies. Look for baking spray (cooking spray with fine flour added), or simply coat the pan with cooking spray, add a tablespoon of flour, and shake gently to coat. If you don't have a Bundt pan, you can bake in two standard loaf pans. Cut the loaves into slices, and drizzle the glaze over each serving.
Banana Pudding Cups
Maple-Walnut Cranberry Pie
While the buttery, maple-scented filling is inspired by classic pecan pie, we swap in toasted walnuts and add chopped fresh cranberries for a beautiful pop of color and tart flavor contrast that cuts the sweetness.
Oatmeal, Chocolate, and Walnut Cookies
Chewy oatmeal and crunchy walnuts can completely transform the typical lunch box chocolate chip cookie, adding new flavors and texture while subtly increasing the cookie's nutritional value.
Extreme Lemon and Chocolate Roulade
Lemon and chocolate are a lovely and lively pair in this roulade. If you prefer milder lemon flavor, you can omit the rind from the filling. Or, if you are a bold lemon lover, don't strain the rind out of the filling—enjoy the tartness and texture it provides.
Port-Glazed Pear Tart with Rosemary-Cornmeal Crust
The shortbread-like crust stands up well to a luscious ricotta filling that's topped with pretty port-stained pears. Larger pear wedges (as shown) are stunning; you can also cut the pears into thin slices and arrange spokelike on top. Prepare the crust and pears up to 1 day ahead and refrigerate. Assemble just before serving.
Buttermilk-Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
This has to be the coolest way to serve pie "à la mode." Churn creamy spiced pumpkin pie into a rich custard for an all-in-one ice-cream treat. What a great way to stretch those last couple of slices into a festive new dessert.
Double-Crust Apple Pie
A double crust seals in the apples' natural juices as the pie bakes for full-on apple flavor. Tossing the apples with apple juice keeps them from browning as you peel and slice them, and it adds a boost of apple flavor.
Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter-Pecan Frosting
Brown butter in a saucepan to enhance its richness, thus eliminating the need for full-fat cream cheese in this recipe. This is a great way to use ripe, speckled bananas.
Hibiscus Poached Pears
The rosy hue of the hibiscus syrup is a holiday showstopper. Drizzle over spiced poached pears for a dessert that's a bit lighter, gluten-free, and still feels holiday-special. The key to beautifully poached pears is to cook them in just enough liquid to submerge the fruit—any more and the flavor from the spices may be lost. A parchment paper topper and a plate will keep liquid from evaporating too quickly. Reduce additional poaching liquid and reserve as the base for holiday cocktails, the sweet component of a salad dressing, or a drizzle for your cheese board.
For a vegan version, leave out the 1/2 cup of crème fraîche.