You just can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without serving pumpkin pie for dessert – or can you? We love pie, but we’re shaking things up a bit this year with some festive ways to end your meal that aren’t constrained by a pie crust.

Apple Pecan Crisp

apple-pecanApple pie certainly has its place on a fall dessert menu, and you can count us as fans. But, for a different take on this seasonal classic, how about apples – simmering away in their own syrupy juices – beneath a streusel of pecans and brown sugar? It’s easier than pie, and absolutely delicious!

• Pinch salt
• 1 cup pecans, chopped
• ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
• ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
• 6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch dice
• 5 large tart baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced ¼-inch thick

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Pulse flour, brown sugar, ¼ cup of granulated sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and continue to pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
3. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, stir in the pecans and oats, and set aside.
4. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish generously. In a medium bowl, toss apples with the remaining granulated sugar. Transfer the apple mixture to the baking dish, and cover with the topping.
5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until apples are tender when pierced, and topping is toasted. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Hazelnut Caramel Bars

These delicious hazelnut caramel bars are sure to give you that Thanksgiving, fall-kind-of-feeling, while still offering a change from the typical seasonal dessert. They also travel well, making them perfect for a potluck Thanksgiving or other fall gathering.

• Fine salt
• ⅓ cup light corn syrup
• 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• 1 cup packed light-brown sugar, divided
• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
• ⅓ cup coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate (optional)
• 1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted and loose skins rubbed off
• 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, divided (plus more for pan)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side, and butter parchment. Using a mixer, in a large bowl, beat 1 stick butter and ⅓ cup brown sugar on medium-high until light, 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour and ¼ teaspoon salt, and beat on low until combined. Increase speed to medium, beat until clumps form, then press dough evenly into pan. Bake until golden and dry, about 20 minutes, then let cool 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine corn syrup, cream, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 stick butter, and ⅔ cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil, cook 1 minute, stir in nuts, then pour over crust.
3. Bake about 15 minutes until bubbling in center. Sprinkle with chocolate if desired, and allow to cool for 1 hour. Using parchment, lift out of pan and refrigerate 1 hour, until set. Cut into 24 pieces.

Pumpkin Mousse

pumpkin-mousseIf you’ve had your fill of pumpkin pie, but would still like something with a great pumpkin flavor, this light and fluffy mousse is perfect! With no pastry crust to wrangle, these velvety, airy treats are easier to make than pumpkin pie.

• ¼ cup sugar
• 16 gingersnaps
• 1 cup cold 2% milk
• 1 ¾ cups whipped topping
• 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
• 1 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
• 1 8-ounce package softened cream cheese
• 1 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix

1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth, then add pumpkin, pudding mix, and pie spice. Gradually beat in milk, then fold in whipped topping.
2. Spoon ¼ cup mousse into each of eight serving dishes. Crumble gingersnaps, and sprinkle over mousse. Top with remaining mousse, and refrigerate until serving.