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Gourmet Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes to Make at Home

If the turkey is the quarterback of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, then dessert is surely a special team. The quarterback gets all of the attention, but the right special team can help strategically position the ball (or in this case, the bird), and affect the momentum of the game for better or worse. As coach of your Thanksgiving kitchen, it’s important to pay attention to your Thanksgiving dessert lineup.

The dessert lineup can score major points at the end of the big meal or end the experience with thoughts of what should’ve been (not to mention the late-game quarterbacking).

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Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

Here are a few ways to shake up your special team of desserts this Thanksgiving, courtesy of the International Culinary Center. Chef Candy Argondizza, Vice President of Culinary and Pastry Operations, says, “In busy holiday times, the importance of multitasking and starting your prep work 2-3 days out is super important,” she said. “Don’t try to do everything the day-of.”

For more baking tips, or to discover more about learning at the International Culinary Center, visit their website.

Dessert Recipe #1: ALMOND BISCOTTI

Makes About 30 (½-in) cookies


Almond Biscotti115 g whole almonds
230 g all-purpose flour
170 g sugar
1 t baking powder
¼ t freshly ground black pepper
½ t ground cloves
½ t ground cinnamon
¼ t ground ginger
¼ t salt
60 g butter, cold
1 large, whole egg
2 t vanilla extract
3 T milk or water


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Evenly spread the almonds on a half-sheet pan and place them in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the almonds from the oven and set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and spices in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix to blend.
  4.  Add the butter to the bowl, and mix until the mixture is very fine and powdery, with no visible pieces of butter. Add the almonds and stir to combine.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the whole egg, vanilla and milk or water and whisk until incorporated.
  6. With the mixer running, slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour and butter mixture. Continue mixing until dough comes together.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until uniform and smooth.
  8. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each piece into a log measuring about 12-in. long. The log should be slightly coated with flour to keep it from sticking to the work surface.
  9. Slide the logs onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
  10. Remove the pan from the oven let cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. When cool enough to handle, and cut the logs into ½-in diagonal slices using a serrated knife.
  11. Place the cut biscotti on the sheet pan cut-side down. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until crisp.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the sheet pan. Serve as desired. Biscotti sealed in an air-tight container will keep for several weeks. They may also be frozen for up to 2 months.


Makes 2 small pies


70 g pecans
100 g sugar
70 g all-purpose flour
1 t ground cinnamon
¼ t salt
60 g cold butter, cut into ¼-in cubes

For the Crust and Filling
350 g chilled pie dough
About 680 g Fuji, Gala or similar apples 120 g sugar
1 t butter
2 T heavy cream
¼ t salt


Streusel Topping

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (177°C).
  2. Spread the pecans on a half-sheet pan in an even layer. Toast the pecans in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool and finely chop the nuts, then set aside.
  3. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nuts and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
  4. Add the butter to bowl and mix at medium speed for 7–10 minutes, or until the mixture achieves a mealy texture. Refrigerate the streusel topping until ready to use.

Crust and Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Allow pie dough to rest at room temperature for 10-20 minutes, or until malleable, then divide dough into two equal pieces.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into an 8-in. disk, about ⅛-in thick. Transfer disks to each pie tin. Gently press dough into corners of pans, then trim and create a decorative edge around the edge of the pies. Set pie tins in refrigerator so dough can rest.
  3. Peel, core, and slice apples into ¼-in. thick pieces.
  4. Using dry caramel method, add sugar to a wide saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until sugar begins to caramelize.
  5. When sugar is an amber color, turn off heat. Slowly add butter and cream to mixture and whisk until smooth.
  6. Add apple slices to pan and continue cooking over medium-high heat until they soften and release their juices, 5-7 minutes.
  7. Drain apples, reserving the cooking syrup. Spread apples in an even layer on sheet pan lined with parchment paper to cool.
  8. Return the reserved cooking liquid to the pan and place over low heat. Cook until reduced by one- third and syrupy. Set liquid aside in a bowl to cool.
  9. Remove prepared pie tins from refrigerator.
  10. Pour cooled cooking liquid over cooled apples and stir to combine. Pour apple mixture into the chilled pie shells.
  11. Top pies with generous amount of chilled streusel topping, then place pies into oven and bake for 15 minutes or until topping starts to brown.
  12. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the edges of the crust and topping are golden brown. Remove pies from the oven and let cool to room temperature before serving.

Dessert Recipe #3: PALMIERS

Tip: To save time, buy pre-made puff pastry or make it yourself using the abbreviated method below.
Makes 25-30 large cookies (or 50-60 small cookies)


Sugar, as needed
300 g puff pastry


  1. Liberally cover the counter with sugar.
  2. Roll the puff pastry in the sugar, sprinkling more sugar on top, as needed.
  3. Roll the puff pastry into a 12-in. x 14-in. rectangle with a thickness of ⅛-in. (For small cookies: Cut the rectangle in half to create two 6-in. x 14-in. rectangles).
  4. Lightly score the dough lengthwise into six even sections. Fold the two outer sections towards the center along the first scored lines. Lightly press the layers together using a rolling pin.
  5. Fold the next two sections towards the center along the second scored lines. The two folds should almost meet in the center. Lightly press the layers together using a rolling pin.
  6. Fold the final two sections together along the center scored line. Lightly press the layers together using a rolling pin.
  7. Chill the assembled puff pastry overnight, if possible. The uncooked log can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350° (177°C).
  9. For large palmiers, cut the chilled pastry into ⅜-in. thick slices, and place them about 2-in. apart on a parchment-lined sheet pan. (For smaller cookies, cut the chilled pastry into ⅛-in. thick slices).
  10. Bake large palmiers in the preheated oven for 24–28 minutes (bake small palmiers for 20-24 minutes). Flip the palmiers over when they begin to brown, and continue to bake until golden brown.
  11. Remove the palmiers from the oven and allow to cool completely on the sheet pan. Baked palmiers should be kept in an airtight container and served within 1 week.

Dessert Recipe #4: QUICK PUFF PASTRY

Makes approximately 500 g


250 g all-purpose flour
1 t salt
1 ¾ T softened butter
½ cup cold water
150 g cold butter (preferably frozen), cut into ½-in cubes


    1. Combine the dry ingredients with the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix to combine. Add enough cold water until dough forms.
    2. Add the cold, cubed butter and mix just enough to incorporate.
    3. Wrap and refrigerate the puff pastry for at least 30 minutes.
    4. Roll the puff pastry into a long rectangle about ⅜-in thick.

thanksgiving dessert

      1. Make two double turns, then wrap well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

    thanksgiving dessert

    1. Make two more folds, for a total of four double turns.

thanksgiving dessert

  1. Wrap and refrigerate the puff pastry for at least 30 minutes more before using.
  2. Quick puff pastry may be refrigerated for 2-3 days, or rolled into sheets and frozen for up to 2 months.

Dessert Recipe #5: CARROT CAKE

Makes 2 (6-in) round cakes


For the Cake
thanksgiving dessert190 g all-purpose flour
¾ t baking soda
¾ t baking powder
1½ t ground cinnamon
¾ t salt
3 g eggs
330 g sugar
1 ¼ cup vegetable oil
90 g walnuts, toasted and chopped
250 g carrots, peeled and grated on a box grater

For the Cream Cheese Frosting and Assembly
600 g cream cheese, at room temperature 250 g butter, at room temperature
220 g powdered sugar
20 g lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

For the Garnish (optional)
Walnuts, toasted and chopped, as needed
16 marzipan carrots
20 g marzipan carrot tops



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and flour two 6-in. round cake pans. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs and the sugar to the ribbon stage, 5-7 minutes.
  4. With the mixer running, slowly add the oil until emulsified.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the sifted dry ingredients and mix just to combine.
  6. Stir in the nuts and carrots.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake the cakes in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes. Test the cakes for doneness.
  8. Remove the cakes from the oven and immediately unmold them onto a cooling rack. Allow the cakes to cool completely before assembling.

Cream Cheese Frosting and Assembly

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar on medium-low speed until soft and smooth, 10-12 minutes.
  2. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. When the cakes are cool, slice each into 2 layers.
  4. Using an offset spatula, spread a ⅛-in. layer of frosting on each bottom layer and cover with the top layers.
  5. Completely cover the cake layers with the frosting.


  1. Transfer the remaining frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size star tip.
  2. Evenly pipe eight rosettes on top of the cakes along the perimeter.
  3. Using your hand, apply the chopped walnuts ½-in. up the side of the cake.
  4. Place the marzipan carrots on top of each rosette so there will be one carrot decoration on each slice of cake you plan to cut.

Hero (Top) Feature Image: Anaumenko / Adobe Stock
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
Noah Fecks / International Culinary Center
Matthew Septimus / International Culinary Center


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