Turkey, stuffing, countless side dishes, dinner rolls -- you have enough on your plate to make for Thanksgiving. By ordering dessert from an expert baker, you free up some time to relax on the holiday, are ensured that the final course won't leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth, and save yourself from disappointment when half the crowd is too stuffed to enjoy the homemade creation you slaved over. Plus, you get to support local businesses, and who doesn't like to do that?
Southerners craving a taste of home will weep with joy after sampling this buttermilk pie ($15). This perfectly balanced pie is a dessert that everyone can fall in love with at first bite. The filling, with a generous helping of sugar and butter, tastes rich without being as heavy as a crème brûlée. Served with warm caramel sauce, this pie is so good it might make your relatives forget all about the pumpkin or pecan -- which you can also pick up from Shelley's Specialty Desserts in downtown Glendale if you want to serve a classic Thanksgiving selection.
There's one in every family: the person who claims not to like sweets, who chooses plain shortbread over chocolate chip cookies. Wow them -- and everyone else too -- with this seasonal baked bar ($31.89/dozen). It's rich with buttery flavor, has hints of deep caramel, and is topped with thinly sliced roasted pears. They're a more manageable size than a slice of pie, and it'll be lighter on your already-full stomach too. In case pear isn't your thing, we also recommend the holiday ginger molasses bread ($10.74). Both are available through December 31; call 602-451-4335 to order.
If your family isn't that into dessert -- or is so into dessert that you put out sweets to snack on while prepping the big meal -- this unique brittle is a must-have. It packs some heat thanks to the chile flakes, but the cranberries (and what's Thanksgiving without cranberries?) will offset the heat with tart sweetness. Afraid of the spice? Try her bacon-pecan brittle instead. Tracy Dempsey Originals products can be found at Smeeks, Arcadia Farms, Wedge & Bottle, and Changing Hands Bookstore, and orders can be placed by calling 602-376-9021.
Essence Bakery is known for its macarons, and the most popular flavor is the caramel cream. They're tiny size means that anyone who filled up at dinner can get a taste of dessert without wasting a bunch of pie, and the classic caramel flavor will be a hit with the whole crowd. If you want to opt for a more traditional Thanksgiving flavor, Essence also has a pumpkin macaron, spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Small macarons are $16.80 for a dozen or $33.60 for two dozen. Large macarons are $3.25 each.
What would a Thanksgiving dessert list be without pumpkin pie? A shame, that's what. If you want a simple and simply amazing traditional pumpkin pie for your table, Tammie Coe will bake the perfect one just for you ($24). Her version, which is topped with caramel whipped cream, certainly pleased the crowd at the Third Annual Pie Social. For Thanksgiving, Tammie Coe is also making a special sweet potato and butterscotch mousse cake ($36 small, $60 large). Order by Saturday, November 17, for pick-up on Wednesday, November 21.
This dessert, a welcome mix between cheesecake and pumpkin pie, is fluffy and light with just enough pumpkin flavor and spice. If you want a dessert that's seasonal but not too rich, this is a nice alternative to pumpkin pie. The cheesecake rests in a graham cracker crust that tastes remarkably like Bicoff biscuits and is topped with an ultra-thick layer of airy whipped cream, so it's appropriately indulgent to cap off a fantastic holiday meal. Pumpkin pecan cheesecake is also available. Small cheesecakes (serves 4 to 6) are $25, medium (serves 6 to 8) $35, and large (serves 10 to 15) $45. With a minimum of 48 hours' notice, call 602-955-1022 to order.
It's unconventional to order a restaurant's dessert to take home, but the tortilla pudding from Ticoz is so incredible that you'll want to do it anyway. (We called to check; they will be happy to oblige.) What makes it a good fit for Thanksgiving? It's full of gooey cinnamony goodness, which is typical of autumn desserts, and tortillas make it a fun option for a Southwestern celebration. As if that's not enough, it's so addictive you'll go back for seconds -- even if you had thirds of turkey and stuffing. Call 602-200-0160 to order.
Why just get apple pie when you could be eating green chile jalapeno apple pie on Turkey Day? With fresh granny smith apples, hatch green chilies, and jalapeno honey butter cinnamon crumble, this creative twist on the all-American classic won multiple awards at the 2011 Pie Social -- but it's seasonal, and this is the only time of year it can be ordered. If you're going gourmet this holiday season, don't pass up this unique pie ($24).
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For a Mexican-American Thanksgiving -- or if you or your guests prefer cake over pie for whatever reason -- tres leches cake is a great choice. This buttery, spongy cake soaked in three types of milk (hence the name) is a real crowd-pleaser, especially when you pick one up from La Tolteca. There are two options: vanilla icing and colorful sprinkles, perfect for the kids' table, or chocolate icing with a cherry on top. Either way, the cake comes with its own milky sauce, and each bite is crumbly and moist without being soggy or overly sweet.
Along with pumpkin, pecan pie is a true Thanksgiving classic. Where do you get a good one? Go straight to the source: the pecan grove. With countless pecan trees, The Farm at South Mountain is just the spot to pick up a made-from-scratch pecan pie for your family's table. Call The Farm Kitchen at 602-276-6360 to order a whole pie ($28). At least 24 hours' notice is required.