From pumpkin to sweet potato to apple and more, these no-fail desserts will make any meal memorable.
By Lynn Andriani
The Sweet Potato Pie with Spiced Up Flavor
Tanya Holland, the chef at the soul-food restaurant Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, California, considers intense flavors a hallmark of her cooking. "Ingredients are superimportant, but you've got to know how to embellish them," she says. For this Sweet Potato Pie, she enhances the candy-like flavor of fresh sweet potatoes with brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.
Just as some fruits taste better when they’re at peak ripeness, there are desserts that taste better when you let them sit for a day—and this apple pie is one of them. Make it the day before, so the juices have time to thicken, and you'll be rewarded with a perfectly rich and beautiful pie.
A crust of crushed walnuts and gingersnap cookies isn't just an unusual way to jazz up classic pumpkin pie—it's also a time saver, since you don't have to make a dough, chill it and roll it out. And instead of topping the dessert with whipped cream, this recipe has you drizzle the pie with a tart, bright-pink cranberry glaze.
Pear desserts tend to fly below the radar, but this sweet, lightly spiced tarte tatin (a French upside-down pie) reminds us how delicious they can be. It's easy to make: You sauté sliced pears in butter; sprinkle them with sugar and fresh, grated ginger; then drape a circle of dough over the fruit. Bake, let cool and then (carefully) invert onto a serving dish.
The Pie for When You Just Can't Decide What to Make
A sweet-potato filling with a maple-flavored pecan topping is the ideal compromise for bakers who would like both a sweet potato and a pecan pie (but don't want to spend an entire day in the kitchen). This pie recipe also includes easy instructions for making cinnamon-flecked whipped cream, which you can serve alongside or on top.
Chef Amy Loveless, who cooks at the Dream Away Lodge in the Berkshire Mountains, likes to use a mix of Northern Spy and Cortland apples in her apple-cranberry pie, though Granny Smiths are a fine substitute. She finishes the creation with a sugary crumb topping that adds delightful contrast to the soft fruit.