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Pie's the limit: 6 nontraditional holiday dessert recipes

Before you dive into Thanksgiving dessert planning this year, think about the bounty that’s available to you in the fall.

The scene: You and your guests are pleasantly stuffed – just as your turkey was a few short hours ago – and chatting and laughing as the smaller guests circle the table. Plates are collected, and the clink and clatter of china, flatware and glass become the sound track for post-dinner coffee. Only one small thing remains, but it’s the very thing that makes this holiday what it is.

It's time for dessert.

Before you dive into Thanksgiving dessert planning this year, think about the bounty that’s available to you in the fall. Too often we limit ourselves to the standards – mile-high apple pie, luxurious pumpkin custard, achingly sweet pecan pie – festive choices, to be sure, but they tend to be the trees standing in the way of a forest of other dessert flavors and styles.

Consider the possibilities: A simple pie can transform into a rustic galette or crostata, an elegant, show-shopping tart or a crowd-pleasing slab. Crumbles offer their crust in sweet streusel, and crisps crackle with oat-coated tops, while cobblers and grunts hit you with a generous dose of Southern-biscuit charm. If you’re looking for something even more unexpected, try your hand at a clafoutis or far breton, both rich, custard-based options with hidden (and not-so-hidden) fruit inside.

Surprising fillings don’t end there; broaden your definition of what really goes into your desserts this year. Apples are a true classic, but pears are gorgeous and readily available in the fall, as are persimmons, pomegranates and grapes. Dried fruits always seem to be an ideal cool-weather counterpart to summer’s rampant juiciness; experiment with prunes or dried cherries, apricots or figs. Reimagine sweet potato or butternut squash in place of pumpkin in a custard, or tuck pistachios, cashews and pepitas inside rich caramel or chocolate.

Your holiday feast is merely nourishment compared to the enchanting finale of desserts that grace your table – the bits and crumbs your guests will linger over as the evening passes. This year, make it memorable.

Sweet potato caramel-and-nut tart

Pomegranate-pear slab pie with walnut crust

Gingersnap icebox pie with lemon-Mascarpone cream

Spiced cherry crisps with pistachio-caraway topping

Grape-Frangipane crostata

Cider-soaked fig Far Breton with cider-fig glaze

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Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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