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12 Thanksgiving Desserts We're Extremely Grateful For

Couples: Thanksgiving Desserts We're Extremely Grateful For

We've already presented on a silver platter the Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu, including tons of hors d'Oeuvres, side dishes, and a go-to recipe for roasting a turkey … but what about desserts? If you have some belly room left over from all that turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce — then take a bite out of these! Thanksgiving is all about indulgence — so indulge!

1. Indian Candy Corn Cupcakes
By Karen Tack and Alan Richardson of Hello, Cupcake!

24 vanilla cupcakes baked in white paper liners
3 sheets Phyllo dough, thawed
Vegetable cooking spray
1 can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting
3 1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
About 4 cups assorted Jelly Belly jelly beans in russet, orange, gold, cream, and brown colors.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with crumpled foil. Cut the Phyllo sheets crosswise into 3-inch-wide strips, tapering both ends. Drape the stacked husks on the prepared pan, shaping them over the crumpled foil to make curves. Spray lightly with vegetable cooking spray. Bake until the Phyllo is golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. (The husks can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept in an airtight container.)
2. Tint the vanilla frosting pale beige with the cocoa powder.
3. Working with 3 cupcakes at a time, spread some of the pale beige frosting on top. Arrange about 5 straight rows of jelly beans, side by side and close together, on each cupcake. (Try to select flavors that go well together, such as toasted marshmallow, banana, cappuccino, and chocolate pudding.) Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, frosting, and jelly beans.
4. For each ear of corn, place 3 cupcakes end to end on a serving platter, aligning the rows of jelly beans. Arrange the Phyllo husks on either side of the corn.

2. Autumn Brittle
By Eva Marie Kosmas of

1 Cup Almonds
1 Cup Cashews
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
2/3 Cup Dried Cranberries
2 1/4 Cups Granulated Sugar 
1/4 Cup Golden Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Honey
1 Cup Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Butter

1. Heat the sugars, honey, water and salt in a large pot over a low-medium flame. Use a pot that is larger than you would think necessary because when the mixture begins to boil it will foam up and increase in size. Stir every five minutes or so. Using a candy thermometer, continue to heat the mixture until it reaches a temperature of exactly 302 degrees. This is very important because this is the temperature at which sugar hardens into a rock-like state after it cools. Pay close attention not to go very far above 302, otherwise you will burn the sugar. It can take up to an hour for the mixture to reach that high of a temperature, so don't get too worried if 15 minutes go by and the thermometer is still at 175.
2. While the sugar mixture is boiling, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of a shallow pan, about 9 x 13 inches in width and length, and grease the parchment paper. Set aside. Once the sugar mixture reaches 302, immediately remove it from heat and stir in the butter, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries until they're coated in the mixture.
3. Immediately pour the mixture onto the parchment paper and spread it out into a large rectangle using a rubber spatula. Try to keep the surface relatively even and about 1 inch in height. Place the pan in the refrigerator and allow the brittle to cool for one hour. Once it has finished cooling, remove the sheet of brittle from the parchment paper and break the brittle into pieces using a meat tenderizer or clean hammer. Arrange the pieces on a serving platter and serve. Store excess brittle in a cool dry place.

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3. Pecan Pie Bars
By Lindsay Moe of

For the crust:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides.
2. To make the crust, cream together butter and brown sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until fluffy. Add the flour and salt and mix until crumbly.
3. Press the crust evenly into the foil lined pan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
4. While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, and heavy cream over medium heat. Stir until the mixture comes to a bubble, then simmer for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped pecans.
5. Remove the crust from the oven and immediately pour the filling over the top, spreading it out to cover the entire surface.
6. Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully in the pan. The bars will firm up a bit as they cool, do not over bake.
7. Use the foil to lift the bars from the pan and place on a cutting board. Remove the foil, cut into bars, and serve.

4. White Chocolate Marshmallow Pumpkins
By Courtney Whitmore of

Marshmallows (I used HUGE ones called Campfire Marshmallows)
Lollipop sticks or pretzel sticks (thought of by a reader!)
White chocolate chips
Cookie icing (it dries hard so you can hold the pumpkin by its stem!)

1. Melt chocolate (I melted in the microwave in 20 sec intervals until it was melted).
2. Insert a lollipop stick into the center of each marshmallow and all the way down.
3. Dip the marshmallows in the chocolate using a spoon to make sure they are covered completely, and to run down the sides to even out the chocolate.
4. Once they have been dipped (and allowed to dry just a little bit, use another lollipop stick (or toothpick) to run from the "stem" all the way down the side making indentations around the marshmallow. You will be able to see some of the marshmallow poke through, but it's fine as it's all white!
5. Now run the stick under each marshmallow "pop" to "tuck in the chocolate" before it fully dry and move the marshmallow to a clean plate to finish.
6. Now to add the stems! Using the chocolate cookie icing, run the icing up the base of the pop where it meets the marshmallow … continue to do this all around. It will run down a bit, but it’s fine … I think they look more realistic this way!
Cut off the top of the lollipop stick, and place another drop of chocolate icing on top so the lollipop stick is covered completely!
7. Once the cookie icing dries, you can hold these sweets by the stem to eat … super cute and easy! And for those who like more "bling", I covered some with clear crystal sprinkles and they were adorable! 

5. Apple Pie Caramel Apples
By Jamie of

Homemade Caramel
1 cup of butter
2 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
15 apples
15 popsicle sticks
2 12 ounce bags white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon of shortening
1 cup of sugar
3 teaspoon of cinnamon

1. Wash your apples well. Scrub them with your fingers to get the filmy white stuff off.
2. Place a Popsicle stick in the center of each apple, next to the stem.
3. Line a jelly roll pan with tin foil. Put all of the apples on the sheet and place it in the freezer. 
4. Melt the butter in a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat.
5. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk. Stir it together with a wooden spoon.
6. Cook the caramel over medium high heat, stirring constantly. The temperature should read 235-240 when the caramel has reached the correct consistency. It should take about 14 minutes.
7. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
8. Take your pan of apples out of the freezer, set the apples aside and line the pan with tin foil.
9. Dip your apples one by one into the caramel. Let excess caramel drip off the apple and back into the pan.
8. Turn the apple upside down over the pot for about 20 seconds, letting the cold apple and the caramel get familiar with each other.
9. Set the apples on the cold, foil lined pan and place it in your fridge.
10. Pour your white chocolate into a glass measuring cup. Melt the chocolate in the microwave heating it for only 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each cooking interval. Don't get the chocolate too hot.
11. Add the shortening to your chocolate, stir it in until it has melted into the chocolate.
12. Pour the sugar and cinnamon into a regular soup bowl and stir it together to combine.
13. Dip the apples one at a time, into the white chocolate. Let some of the chocolate drip off into the measuring cup. Then, take a knife and remove any excess chocolate letting it drip back into the cup. It's really important that you don't leave too much chocolate on the apple. 
14. Roll the chocolate dipped apple into the cinnamon sugar, coating it generously. If the chocolate starts to drip a bit, take your palm and form it back to the apple. The chocolate should begin to set up quite quickly, since we are using cold apples. 
15. Return the apple to the cold pan and let the chocolate set completely.

6. Acorn Doughnut Pops
Brooke McLay of

1 box plain donut holes
1 package of Candiquik chocolate flavored candy melt
15-20 long, thin wooden popscicle sticks
5 pretzel sticks, broken into half-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped nuts

1. For basic chocolate covered donut pops, melt the Candiquik according to package directions.
2. Carefully press a wooden popscicle stick into the center of a donut hole, then roll it around gently until covered with chocolate coating. Allow any excess chocolate to drip off of the donut pop. Decorate immediately using any of the three techniques below.
3. To decorate: press a wooden popscicle stick into the center of the donut holes. Dip only the top half of each donut, immediately coating them with chopped nuts and pressing a pretzel stick into the stop part of the donut.
4. Stand donut pops upright on a piece of styrofoam. Allow chocolate coating to harden before serving. 

7. Turkey Chocolate Fondue
By Jenn Lifford of CleanAndScentsible

1 pear
1 box of strawberries
2 bananas
cheddar cheese
1 bunch of red grapes
1 bag of checkers pretzels

1. Cut the pear in half, vertical-wise.
2. Cut to shape the cheddar cheese into feet and a beak.
3. Cut and arrange fruit and crackers into a turkey as pictured above.

8. Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Marshmallow Creme
By Heather Baird of SprinkleBakes

For the Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
½ cup milk
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
For the Filling:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow crème
2 teaspoons maple extract

1. Sift first 5 ingredients into large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in another large bowl until blended. Gradually beat in oil. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in mashed sweet potato. Add dry ingredients in 2 additions alternately with milk in 1 addition, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Cover and chill batter 1 hour. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.
2. Arrange 1 rack in bottom third of oven and 1 rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment; spray lightly with nonstick spray. Pipe batter onto baking sheets (about 3 tbsp. per cake) spacing apart. Let stand 10 minutes.
3. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate pans and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool cakes completely on baking sheets on rack. Using spatula, remove cakes from parchment.
4. Line cooled baking sheets with clean parchment; spray with nonstick spray, and repeat baking with remaining batter.
5. Spoon or pipe about 2 tablespoons filling on flat side of 1 cake. Top with another cake.
6. For the filling, using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add marshmallow crème and maple extract; beat until blended and smooth. 

9. Pilgrim Hat Cookies
By Jessica of Craftily Ever After

Chocolate wafer cookies (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
1 tube orange frosting with piping tips
Small peanut butter cups

1. Place cookies on work surface; squeeze a dime-size dot of frosting in center of each
2. Unwrap and invert peanut butter cups on frosting, pressing down gently
3. Using the round piping tip, pipe a "hat-band" with frosting around peanut butter cup and a square "buckle." Let the frosting set before storing.

10. Turkey Cupcakes
By Katie Dillon of

Donut holes
Annie's Ginger Cookies
Fruit by the Foot or similar red fruit roll up
Candy corn
Mini chocolate chips or M&Ms for eyes. You could even use regular sized chocolate chips.
Large marshmallows cut in half
An edible "stick" such as a pretzel or candy melts that I piped out straight and let harden. This stick attaches the donut hole to the cupcake.

1. I was not motivated to go to the store for pretzel sticks. I found some dark chocolate candy melts, put them in a Ziploc, microwaved until soft and piped out some sticks in advance. They harden pretty quickly and since no one will see them, they don't have to be perfect. Pretzels are easier.
Take donut hole and carefully insert the edible stick securely inside.
2. Stick other end inside cupcake to form the body. Frost entire body. I tried to melt the frosting a little bit and dunk, but because it was cream cheese (I think), that didn't exactly work. But it helps to have a tiny brush to get the frosting into crevices and, of course, an angled spatula.
3. Put a small stripe of frosting on the back of 4 candy corns. Attach candy corns to half of the ginger cookie.
4. Place the cut-in-half large marshmallow on the back of the cupcake, opposite the donut hole head. Push the cookie into the and prop it up on the marshmallow. Tip: the cookie will get soggy if assembled and refrigerated overnight. If you're frosting in advance, keep the tails off. I might also keep the beak off too.
5. Cut Fruit by the Foot into small strips, about 1 inch long. Angle the edges and wrap them around the candy corn. If you have the patience to take a toothpick and dab a little bit of frosting under the Fruit by the Foot before you put it on the candy corn, this helps. Push the entire colored end (if you can) into the donut hole. Be gentle, as I had a few donut holes crumble. If you have trouble with the candy corn falling off, use some frosting to secure it. Push in two mini chocolate chips for eyes.
6. Add the candy corn feet and you're done! You can change the turkey cupcake design based on your taste. For instance, if you want to scrap the frosting, you'll save loads of time. And since the pumpkin cupcakes, donut hole and ginger cookie are more or less the same color, it looks pretty good. I forgot to touch up the frosting that's holding the candy corn in place though. Or, omit the ginger cookies and just use the candy corn as feathers.

11. Pumpkin Crisp
By Chanie Apfelbaum of

29 oz. can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup sugar
3⁄4 cup soy milk
3 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)
For Walnut Crisp Topping:
3⁄4 c packed brown sugar
3⁄4 c oats
3⁄4 c chopped walnuts
2 tbsp flour
1⁄4 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp melted butter/margarine or canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together pumpkin, sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla until smooth.
3. Spray a pie dish with cooking spray and pour mixture inside.
4. Mix topping until incorporated and sprinkle over pie.
5. Bake for approximately 45minutes, until topping is golden brown. 

12. Apple Harvest Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
By Janine Knop aka Miss NiNi Fine Desserts

For the Cake:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. apple pie spice
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
5 large eggs, room temperature
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. imitation vanilla extract
1 cup corn oil
1, 21-oz. can apple pie filling
For the Frosting:
1-3/4 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, browned
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ounce (1/3 cup) English walnut pieces, broken into medium size pieces, toasted
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. granulated sugar
10-inch metal round tube cake pan with removable bottom and a 9-inch metal baking pan for toasting walnuts.

For the Cake
1. Separate pieces of cake pan. Coat bottom and sides of pan with nonstick spray. In small dish, stir together granulated sugar and ground cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture on greased surfaces of pan. Turn both pan pieces upside down and tap on firm surface to remove extra coating. Discard remaining coating ingredients. Put pan pieces together.
2. Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
3. In medium-size bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside.
4. Using large bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add oil. Beat until oil is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat until mixture is light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture, adding about 1/3 cup at a time.
5. Add apple pie filling; mix until combined. Pour into pan. Bake for 65-70 minutes. Insert metal cake tester or toothpick into center of cake. It should come out clean without any evidence of crumbs or moisture.
6. Cool cake in pan 20 minutes. Run a thin sharp knife around inside and outside edges of pan to loosen. Remove outside of pan. Run a thin sharp knife between cake and bottom of pan. Invert cake on to a cooling rack. Gently turn cake right side up.
7. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees.

For the Frosting
1. Toast English Walnuts
2. Put walnuts into baking pan. Bake 8-10 minutes. Nuts will begin to have a toasty brown aroma and oily appearance. Remove from oven and cool in pan.
3. Brown ButterPut butter in small frying pan and place on cook top on low heat. Stir occasionally until butter changes from yellow to light brown, about 4 minutes. As butter is melting, there will be a crackling sound. When that sound stops, and there are small brown solids on bottom of pan, remove pan from heat and let cool slightly.
4. Put powdered sugar, browned butter with solids, milk, and vanilla into small mixing bowl and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Spread over top of cake. Sprinkle with toasted walnut pieces.
5. In small bowl, stir together ground cinnamon and granulated sugar. Put in clean, empty salt shaker and sprinkle over top of cake.

Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Keep air tight and chill. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.