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Holiday favorites: More desserts

On Tuesday, we offered you some suggestions for pies, tarts and other desserts that would be great on the Thanksgiving table. Because you can never have too many sweets, here are a few more of our favorite recipes from years past. Find these and many, many others in our searchable Recipe Finder database.

Mama's Pecan Pie. (Terry Allen for The Washington Post)

Let's begin with a superstar: Mama's Pecan Pie, a recipe from chef Virginia Willis. Yes, we know you've tasted a lot of pecan pies. But the premise behind this one is sheer genius: The ratio of nuts to goo is much higher than usual, making for a nutty, chewy interior that's not gloppy or sickly-sweet. It does take a lot of chopping (each pie contains 1 1/2 cups of pecans, and they are cut up rather than left in halves) but it's worth the small amount of extra time. A ringing endorsement: Food editor Joe Yonan, who's from Texas, the land of pecan trees, says this is the best pecan pie he's ever had. Seriously.

Chestnut-Maple Cheesecake. (Julia Ewan/The Washington Post)

I think cheesecake is great any time of year, but this impressive Chestnut-Maple Cheesecake really fits the season. And believe me, it tastes terrific. The chestnut is a store-bought puree (no injured fingers from trying to pry the nuts open yourself). You make it in advance, of course, which is another fine attribute.

A more rustic approach would be Cranberry Apple Crisp. A crisp is so much less fussy than a pie or tart but, like those two, it's a good excuse to serve ice cream or whipped cream on the side. Another advantage: You don't have to come up with a crust. (And, as we learned from our store-bought pie crust taste test last week, if you don't have time to make your own crust, you won't find anything in the market that tastes really good.)

Pear-White Chocolate Bread Pudding. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Bread puddings are satisfyingly rich and usually can be made ahead of time, then baked or reheated at the last minute. Our Chocolate Bread Pudding is a great example. I think chocolate tends to be underrepresented on the Thanksgiving dessert table, so this is a fine way to mend that oversight. Another good bread pudding choice would be
Pear-White Chocolate Bread Pudding. I've seen some beautiful pears at the farmers market and even the grocery store lately that would be ideal for this dessert. If you don't like pears, you can substitute apples, berries or other varieties of fruit.

Ricotta and Bittersweet Chocolate Tart. (Julia Ewan/The Washington Post)

A really impressive-looking tart that also helps make up for the Thanksgiving chocolate shortage is this Ricotta and Bittersweet Chocolate Tart. It's rich and filling, and a little of this goes a long way. The crust is very good, and both the crust and filling -- a gorgeous, glossy ganache -- are simple to make.

If you're looking for something a little more bright and citrusy, lemon bars are always popular. Consider Ultimate Lemon Squares for a less-heavy dessert option.

Here's one I make every year, though it's not in our database. Ina Garten's Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits are do-ahead and terrific: a great combo of pumpkin, cream and ginger. But if you try them, omit all -- I really mean ALL -- of the the orange zest. The result is much nicer,

Whatever you serve, have a warm and wonderful holiday.

-- Jane Touzalin

By Jane Touzalin  |  November 20, 2009; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Thanksgiving  | Tags: Holiday favorites, Jane Touzalin, Thanksgiving  
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