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Thanksgiving: Tired of Pies

Every Thanksgiving I make pecan pie, pumpkin pie and banana cream pie. Every year the same thing....I want a change. I'm thinking of having only pumpking pie this year and going a totally different direction with the other desserts.

I've been debating an upsidown apple cake and possibly a Martha Stewart Mississippi Mud pie (which is really a flourless cake and homemade pudding w/ whipped cream).

What desserts do you make other than pie?

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  1. A few years ago, I made a delicious glazed pear cake. Yum. Let me know if you'd like the recipe & I'll dig thru my crazy file :)

    1. how about a trifle with a gingerbread base, poached pears and the custard or creme anglaise flavored with a little bourbon

      2 Replies
      1. re: weezycom

        Yes! Trifle. I hadn't thought about the whole gingerbread angle....hmmmmmmm, I may have to usurp that idea.....I was thinking cranberry and port.

        1. re: weezycom

          Wowie Zowie weezy! That sounds fantastic. We've got a couple of non-drinkers in our Thanksgiving crowd, but I think this'd be great sans booze.

        2. As a pumpkin hater, I had to be cajoled into even tasting this cake when a friend made it. Now, it's my holiday dessert of choice. Something about the brightness of the apricots transforms the bland pumpkin into something wonderful. And it's pretty, too.


            1. re: ipsedixit

              Oh yeah, definite ditto on the cheesecake!

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Yep - I do cheesecake in muffin tins w/ various toppings and they keep well.

                1. re: JerryMe

                  HOW? Muffin pans I got. Spring-form pans I don't got.

                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                    Zen, it's easy, just use cupcake liners to ensure that you can get them out of the pan :) pat a little crust into the bottom of each one, fill with batter, top as you wish, and bake. voila! mini cheesecakes.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Or just spray a little Pam or smear some butter inside your muffin pan.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        ipse, have you ever actually done that successfully? the whole point of using a springform for cheesecake is the near impossibility of getting it out of a pan with fixed sides without smushing the filling or separating it from the crust. the liners hold it all together and keep the custard from sticking to the sides - you can just lift each one out in one piece.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Yes, and here's the key.

                          Line the sides of your muffin tin with the crust (not just the bottom of the muffin tin). And if you greased it with a bit of butter or PAM, they'll slide right out with a bit of nudging from a pairing knife.

                          Ok, you got me. Yes, you end up with something closer to "mini-tarts" than cheesecake muffins ... but, you know what, everything's edible and no worries about whipping out cupcake liners.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    This Sweet Potato Cheesecake won a blue ribbon at the North Carolina State Fair,

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      my best friend makes a pumpkin cheesecake that's always a hit sorry, i don't know what recipe she uses

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        I dunno. Cheesecake can be so heavy, after such a large meal.

                        How about something chiffon, like a parfait of lemon chiffon pudding/custard and some crunchy shortbread cookies? Even a full trifle is a bit of overload after this kind of eating marathon.

                        1. re: toodie jane

                          Well your traditional pecan pie, or even sweet potato or pumpkin pies, aren't exactly light.

                          Plus, I can make a pretty good light and airy cheesecake (i.e., not NY-style).

                      2. Gingerbread with sauteed apples, caramel sauce and cider cream.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: maxie

                          Recipe please. This sounds outstanding.

                        2. We do more cakes than pies....some desserts other than pies that we've done for the holidays include various cheesecakes, apple dumplings with cider sauce, walnut crusted rum cake (a family speciality), fruit curd tart with fresh fruits, toasted coconut & banana cake, orange frosted gingerbread and chocolate cranberry bread pudding

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Cherylptw

                            "toasted coconut & banana cake, orange frosted gingerbread". Yum! Cherylptw do you have a recipe to share for those?

                            Pumpkin pie is usually around, because it's well.. traditional and someone usually wants it. Same with pecan pie. If I'm making something it's usually carrot cake (husband's fav) or a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust.

                            1. re: Island

                              Orange Frosted Gingerbread

                              Non stick cooking spray
                              1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
                              1 cup dark molasses
                              1/2 teaspoon baking soda
                              2 cups all-purpose flour
                              1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
                              2 tablespoons ground ginger
                              1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                              1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
                              1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
                              Pinch of ground cardamom
                              3 large eggs, room temperature
                              1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar
                              ½ cup granulated sugar
                              3/4 cup vegetable oil
                              1 cup butter, room temperature
                              ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
                              ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
                              1 teaspoon orange extract
                              3 cups confectioner’s sugar
                              1-2 tablespoons orange juice

                              Preheat oven to 350°F. Liberally spray a 10 inch bundt pan or 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non stick cooking spray; set aside. Bring stout and molasses to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium temperature for two minutes; remove from heat, whisk in baking soda then set aside to cool to room temperature.

                              Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar and oil into the cooled beer/molasses then combine with the dry ingredients, blending well.

                              Pour batter into prepared pan and tap bottom lightly to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in the middle of oven for 50 minutes or until a pick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Remove pan to a rack to cool for five minutes then turn gingerbread onto the rack to cool completely.

                              For the frosting, add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl to use with a hand mixer. Starting on low speed, beat the butter for one minute; add the grated orange zest, vanilla extract, orange extract and one cup of confectioner’s sugar and continue beating until sugar is blended. Add the rest of the sugar; increase the speed and whip the frosting until well blended. Spread on top of the gingerbread. Makes at least 12 servings.

                              Toasted Coconut & Banana Cake

                              Non stick cooking spray
                              Toasted Coconut & Banana Cake
                              2 1/4 cups cake flour
                              3/4 teaspoon baking soda
                              1/2 teaspoon baking powder
                              ½ teaspoon salt
                              ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
                              1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
                              2 large eggs, room temperature
                              3 large extra ripe bananas, roughly mashed
                              1/4 cup buttermilk
                              1 teaspoon banana extract
                              2 teaspoons coconut extract
                              2 cups lightly toasted coconut
                              1 cup butter, room temperature
                              2- 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
                              3 cups powdered sugar
                              1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract

                              Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 8-inch cake pans with non stick cooking spray; set aside. Combine cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.

                              In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in the eggs, one at a time, until blended. Mix in the bananas, banana extract, coconut extract and ½ cup toasted coconut; blend in half of the flour mixture then add the buttermilk. Beat for 30 seconds; add the remaining flour and continue to beat for another minute or until all ingredients are blended. Divide batter evenly between the cake pans; tap the bottom of pans to release air bubbles and smooth the top with a spatula.

                              Bake cake layers for 25 minutes or until pick inserted in center few crumbs attached. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Using small knife, cut around cakes to loosen; turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting by whipping together the butter, cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar and coconut extract until fluffy. To frost, place one cake layer on a serving pedestal or cake plate; spread top of layer and sprinkle with some toasted coconut. Place second layer over top of the first; frost sides and top of cake. Pat some of remaining coconut on sides of the cake and sprinkle some over the top. Makes 10 servings.

                              1. re: Cherylptw

                                OMG! That coconut banana cake sounds incredible!
                                Thank you for posting it!

                                  1. re: Cherylptw

                                    Yum. Thanks for taking the time to post those. They both sound delish!

                                1. re: Cherylptw

                                  Cherylptw. Couldn't wait to try these. Made the toasted coconut and banana cake for a good bye party at work yesterday and it was INHALED in no time! I barely got a sliver myself and it was delicious. It's a keeper and forever known as Chowhound Cheryl's coconut and banana cake.

                                  Next up, your gingerbread. Was wondering, recipe says use a 9x13 or a bundt pan. Prefer the bundt, but how do you frost that? Thanks.

                            2. I loathe pumpkin pie. And I'd rather eat pumpkin pie than cheesecake.

                              I make either Creme Caramel or the Cranberry-Nut Tart from Martha's ENTERTAINING. http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/c....

                              I like weezycom's idea for Trifle. I'm very tempted to sub it for the creme caramel.

                              1. Fine, but know that Thanksgiving is one time when people want the familiar.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Querencia

                                  Querencia: "Fine, but know that Thanksgiving is one time when people want the familiar."

                                  Some people.

                                  I find American Thanksgiving one of the most boring meals in existence. The only parts I really like are stuffing (which is usually "dressing," now that we all know about FBI), mashed potatoes, and cranberries (and I do not mean that crap that comes in a can).

                                  A lot of times, dessert is my favorite part of a meal. But not on Thanksgiving, when everyone eats pumpkin pie, per your logic because it is familiar. Ugh. I can't think of a less appetizing dessert. So, when I grew up, I made other things for dessert, which I've specified above. Except for one slip in the mid-90s, I've been pumpkin pie-free since at least 1982.

                                  By now, my desserts have become "familiar"--asked for, even, as a substitute for Familiar Pie.

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    ..."Thanksgiving one (is) of the most boring meals in existence"

                                    (crowd noises!!!!!)

                                    So glad someone finally said it. The sad part is that those who DO like it wait an entire year before eating it again.

                                    I'm making barbecued salmon, with lemon ice cream for dessert.

                                2. I haven't made it, but some apparently very fine bakers on this board have raved about "Galley Girl's Pear Cake." You can do a search here for the recipe. It seems very Thanksgiving appropriate.

                                  1. How about bread pudding with spiced rum sauce? It's been a hit at my house. You can make the sauce two days ahead, even the very-easy bread pudding can be assembled in advance.


                                      1. My MIL brings cookies and bars, don't know why because we all like pie. Pumpkin or pecan, and they're all in attendance, and I like my pie neat- no whipped cream or godforbid kool-whip.

                                        1. I make a tarte tatin -- apple, but with a twist. Last year I made a Thanksgiving "buche", but now that I'm working again, I don't think that will be repeated!


                                          7 Replies
                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                              Oh - meant that it is a twist on apple pie.

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                Aaaaaw! I was looking forward to twisted Tart Tatin! LOL!

                                                Thanks for answering. I keep meaning to try one, but I never seem to get around to it.

                                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                  I use Julia Child's recipe ... and may have posted here if you want me to look for it. It can be a little fiddly, but worth it.

                                                    1. re: Becca Porter

                                                      Recipes are always a good thing. If you've the time to post it I think lots of people would be grateful.

                                          1. We really liked the pear strudel on the Libby's web site. I baked pumpkin bread and added some cubed pieces in with the pears.

                                            1. there's always *the* pumpkin pie, or the grandmothers will have conniptions.

                                              there's also always gingerbread loaf. invariably a lemon bundt with highlighter-yellow drizzled icing. and when i make it, chocolate brioche bread pudding. along with some tiny cookies of some sort. and of course ice cream to go with the other elements.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Emme

                                                Emme: "there's always *the* pumpkin pie, or the grandmothers will have conniptions." Actually, it was my grandmother who first made alternate desserts for Thanksgiving. When she was alive, we had mince meat pie and Panna Cotta for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was only when I got out in the real world that I experienced such "familiar" treats as pumpkin pie.

                                              2. I recently made the Cook's Illustrated/Cook's Country Apple Cider Chiffon Cake. Really nice--light but moist cake with a clear cider flavor and pretty pale orange color. I didn't use cream cheese in the glaze but made a powdered sugar glaze with a bit of cider and apple liquour.

                                                1. My sister has been making Paula Deen's Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle and its delicious!

                                                  1. I think this year I"m going to make tiramisu.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Now _that's_ a dessert to give thanks for.

                                                    2. Good lord, I love this site!

                                                      Thank you all. I'm going to do some investigation into these receipes and give you my top three!

                                                      1. Thank you for mentioning the Miss Mud Pie! It looks fantastic.


                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Becca Porter

                                                          Thanks for posting the link (I should have done that). I saw it on her show this past week and thought it looked incredible.

                                                        2. Funny you mentioned it, I'm not making pies that everybody has to have but nobody eats. I'm making 2 chocolate pies, one strawberry because strawberries will just be starting, and one key lime. Pumpkins, apples, and that sort of thing don't grow here and nobody ever ate the pumpkin. I'd just make desserts that people will eat. I've done Thanksgiving for almost 40 years and I have found that the stuff people have to have, they don't eat it. I'm cutting out homemade cranberry sauce too, everybody wants the sliced can stuff. My previous pies were one of each, pumpkin, apple, pecan, blueberry, cherry.

                                                          1. We do the normal pies that you mentioned, but my mom also does a death by chocolate trifle (the one with skor bars on top) and last year I made spice cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Delicious

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: sunangelmb

                                                              sunangelmb. Both sound great. Can you please post recipes for those?

                                                            2. Forgive me if this is already mentioned, but a favorite in my house is without a doubt Paula Deens Pumpkin Gooey Cakes. I also tried the different variations and they're all wonderful.


                                                              Trust me these are the best, be sure not to overcook. Try the peanut butter with the chocolate, I added chocolate shavings to the whipped cream and it makes a beautiful presentation.

                                                              1. goat cheese custard with cranberry topping.
                                                                sorbets.....apple cider, pomegranate, clementine.
                                                                baked apples with caramel topped with cranberries.
                                                                lemon tart topped with blueberries/blackberries/raspberries.
                                                                pears poached in red wine with mocha sauce.

                                                                1. I make a big almond flan. I serve onion pie earlier in the meal.

                                                                  1. The contribution that I make to Thanksgiving Dinner is DESSERT! The list includes the following: Apple Currant Pie, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Toffee Pound Cake, Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cheesecake, Tiramisu, Flan, and Chocolate Layer Cake. I am happy to give recipes for any of these. I keep trying to change up the line up but noone will let anything go. SO, years ago I started with 4 desserts and now I am up to 8!!! But, truth be told, I love doing it.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: rjlebed

                                                                      8 desserts. Wow. I would love your toffee pound cake recipe please!

                                                                      1. re: Island

                                                                        Ruth’s Toffee Pound Cake

                                                                        3 Cups all-purpose flour
                                                                        2 teaspoons baking powder
                                                                        ¾ teaspoon salt
                                                                        7 packages (1.4 ounces each) milk chocolate English toffee (Original Heath English Toffee bar), chopped, about 2 cups
                                                                        16 tablespoons unsalted butter, such as Land O Lakes, softened
                                                                        3 tablespoons solid shortening
                                                                        2 cups superfine sugar
                                                                        4 large eggs
                                                                        2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
                                                                        1 cup milk
                                                                        About 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

                                                                        1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat the inside of a 10-inch fluted tube pan with solid shortening and dust the greased surfaces with all-purpose flour. Set aside.

                                                                        2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Toss the chopped toffee with 1½ tablespoons of the sifted mixture.

                                                                        3. Cream the butter and shortening in the large bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 4 minutes. Add the sugar in three additions, beating well after each portion is added. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl frequently to keep the batter even-textured. Blend in the vanilla extract.

                                                                        4. On low speed, alternately add the sifted ingredients in three additions with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture. Stir in the chopped toffee.

                                                                        5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Shake the pan gently from side to side once or twice to level the top.

                                                                        6. Bake the cake for 55 minutes or until risen, golden on top and set. The baked cake will pull away slightly from the side of the pan and a wooden pick inserted in the cake may withdraw with a few moist crumbs, but without any liquidy streaks of unbaked batter.

                                                                        7. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then invert onto another cooling rack. Cool completely. Before slicing and serving, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar, if you wish, I do! ENJOY!

                                                                        1. re: rjlebed

                                                                          Awesome. I'm not waiting for Thanksgiving to make this. Thanks rjlebed!

                                                                    2. I don't have a recipe, but I went to a biscotti bakery today and they had pumpkin cannolis. I ate one and took home two more . . . for myself. It was so good! I will either attempt to make these or order them for Thanksgiving instead of the usual pumpkin pie.

                                                                      1. I made an orange cheesecake with a topping of candied kumquats last Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit...very refreshing even though it has the usual cream cheese, etc. filling. If anybody's interested, I'd be glad to paraphrase the recipe. I got the recipe from epicurious. Here's the link.


                                                                        1. I make layered individual chocolate and pear mousse, with a dehydrated slice of pear on the top. It's a nice alternative to pies. (Although I love and eat slices of pie too) :)

                                                                          1. In the past, I've made spice cake with cream cheese frosting, a pumpkin buche de noel ( (roll cake), pumpkin cheesecake, and a gingerbread cranberry pear tart. I think chocolate is suitable for any occasion, as well. :)

                                                                            1. Just my preference, but I don't think chocolate goes well with the rest of a typical.Thanksgiving menu. Fruit-based desserts are better. And pumpkin or sweet potato, of course. Not just for Thkgvg, I like a compote made with fresh Bosc pears and an apple variety that holds its shape when cooked, plus dried apricots, perhaps prunes as well. A dollop of honey or agave nectar. Simmer or nuke on medium power in apple cider, apple juice, and/or a sauternes-type dessert wine (I like Tokaji-Aszu). Not much liquid is needed since the fresh fruit exudes a lot. When the fruits are tender, take off heat and stir in ssome golden raisins once almost cooled (earlier and they swell too much). Serve chilled on its own, with a thin plain cookie or two. Or use it to top rice pudding, vanilla ice cream, or pound cake.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                I agree with you thst chocolate pie doesn't go with the meal. I have the same crowd each year and I've now been told to skip the strawberry and key lime pies and make chocolate only. My goal is to not have leftovers. I live alone and somehow I think I don't need leftover pie lurking around. My personal faves for Thanksgiving are lemon meringue, apple, and pecan but if everyone wants chocolate, that's what they will get. I have to add that I'm the only one of my friends who cooks and when they come to my house they look forward to everything being homemade so I like to make what they request for holidays. Here in Florida, there are lots of folks whose family is up north and they have whatever traditions they brought with them so my Thanksgiving is always a mix of people who always come and people we run into and have no place to go. For example, maybe 12 years ago my oven broke 2 days before Thanksgiving. The repair guy has been coming here since then. That's the only time I see him because he's not the best appliance repair guy but everybody needs a place to go on Thanksgiving. And all of those people know that they are welcome and if they got married, got a date, bring them too. I'm not running some homeless shelter just people who are normal but have no family down here. So, we made our own family.My family has all passed and I need my friends, after all, who else would eat my food? Didn't mean to preach but isn't that really what holidays are about? Just got off the phone with my friend who is bringing a Peruvian family that she met because she works with the wife and we're going to the Peruvian house for Christmas Eve.

                                                                                1. re: Floridagirl

                                                                                  Floridagirl sounds great to be at your house for Thanksgiving! I say what goes is what people want to eat, and at your house it's chocolate. Thanksgivings at my parents had many non "traditional" pies because no one really cared for pumpkin pie except for my mom. Chocolate, coconut cream, lemon, just about anything else would be polished off before the pumpkin and we were typically too stuffed to eat it right after dinner so it didn't have to match the starch bomb Thanksgiving anyway.

                                                                              2. I haven't made one in years, but a berry financier would go well with the meal. Almond flour is the base.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: sbp

                                                                                  I thought I'd heard of everything, but never a financier. Thanks, sbp.

                                                                                2. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around being tired of pie.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: slcook

                                                                                    It might not be pie in general the OP is tired of, but rather the particular types of pie served at Thanksgiving. I would love apple pie, but pumpkin pie and pecan pie are another story.

                                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                                      You are correct, Jay F. Every Thanksgiving the same...pumpking, banana cream and pecan pies. So bored with it. I want something new, different, and of course, delicious!

                                                                                      1. re: FoodChic

                                                                                        I hate pumpkin pie too and while I like pecan, it's too heavy for my taste in general. This year I'm making sour cherry, plus pumpkin for DH. IMO, there is NOTHING better than sour cherry pie!

                                                                                  2. One year my sister had a stollen laying around so we made a delicious bread pudding with that. We also made a sauce to go over top of it. It was incredibly rich, maybe too rich to eat after thanksgiving dinner :p

                                                                                    I also made a pumpkin flan one year that was amazing

                                                                                    1. We have a large family so there are a lot of desserts. Pumpkin pie, chocolate-coconut cream pie, pineapple upside down cake, german chocolate cake, apple dumplings and lemon cream pie. The lemon pie is always the first to go. It is unlike any other pie I have had and my grandma won't share the recipe. It is only made at Thanksgiving. The lemon is light and a nice contrast to the rest of the fall flavors.

                                                                                      1. OMG... I made so many pies one year... and a few creme brulees... everyone wound up splitting the creme brulees and didn't even eat a single slice of pie... I'm never making pie again!!!

                                                                                        1. since you mentioned the apple cake...how about a pumpkin cranberry upside down cake? Also a fan of pumpkin gooey bars.

                                                                                          1. WHAT? No pie? Egad- I'm not even a big pie aficionado, but no pumpkin or sweet potato pie would make me sad on Thanksgiving.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                              The pumpkin pie will be there, as my father would refuse to get on the plane to Texas if I didn't have pumpkin pie. That one I will have...the only one.

                                                                                              I'm starting to lean toward a pear tarte tatin, and apple cherry turnovers with cinnamon gelato. (Thanks to the poster that mentioned cinnamon ice cream.)

                                                                                            2. Well, pie (apple cranberry with cornmeal crust from epi and homemade pumpkin) as well as a pumpkin cheesecake that the tweens love and then for me, chocolate cupcakes with ganache.

                                                                                              1. The past couple of years, I've made pumpkin sticky puddings with caramel sauce and everybody loves them. Do use Lyle's Golden Syrup, if you can find it. It's SO much better than the alternatives.