With fall upon us, there are so many delicious dessert recipes to look forward too! The classic fall dessert is, of course, pumpkin pie, but if that’s feeling to banal for you, which is understandable, and you’re looking for some sweet treats for this festive time, here are some fall dessert recipes that will get you in the sweet, seasonal mood!
1. Butternut Squash Tarts
If you love mini pies, tarts or tartlets, this recipe is super simple and can be easily modified to fit your tastes. Squash is the cousin to pumpkins and a great substitute for a fall dessert or dinner. I prefer butternuts squash to pumpkin most days, anyhow!
You’ll want to start with butternut squash, of course. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and gunk (set seeds aside if you wish to roast them, but not necessary for this recipe). Place squash face down in a large glass baking dish, about 11 x 16, add water, and a little seasoning like cinnamon, or a whole cinnamon stick, plus some Chai tea bags.
Bake the squash at 350 degrees in a pre-heated oven and bake until tender. It can take up to an hour or more, but once a fork pokes evenly through the thickest part of the squash, it’s done. Remove from oven and let cool.
While squash is cooling, prepare your cupcake or muffin tins. Spray them with grease and line them with dough. The original recipe calls for phyllo dough, but my favorite has been to use wonton wrappers. You may also make your own pie crust if you so wish. If using wonton wrappers, fold over the corners and try to bunch the sides to a sturdy bowl in which to hold your squash.
Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, peel the skin and began cutting the squash into cubes, 1/2 inch pieces or so. Fill each wonton shell with squash cubes and dollop each with a dab of butter, sprinkled with cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla extract, nutmeg, and all-spice. This isn’t pumpkin pie but it can be flavored similarly. You can also go for a zesty route and flavor with garlic, onion, and chives and feta.
Bake your squash tarts at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. Everything is practically cooked, you just want the corners of the wonton wrappers to brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with any additional sugar or butter, top with walnuts and enjoy!
2. Mini Pecan Pies
While on the subject of tarts and tartlets let’s talk about mini pecan pies. Pecan pie has become a staple at the Thanksgiving dessert buffet, right along with side pumpkin pie, but if you’re like me and you enjoy mini, bite-sized pies instead of committing to making a whole pie that won’t get eaten these tarts will be a delight and an addiction.
To make the pie pastry (you can use the phyllo or wonton wrappers from the above recipe as well), but for that buttery, flaky pie crust that melts in your mouth, you’ll need 1 cup of butter or margarine and 6 ounces cream cheese that’s been softened. Mix them until they’re smooth and creamy. Add 2 cups flour and mix well. Using the dough, roll into individual balls (should yield 48), taking each ball and placing them in greased cupcake tin cup, use your fingers to spread the dough around, creating a base and wall the covers each cup.
To make the filling, crack open 4 eggs in a bowl, DO NOT BEAT YET. Add 3 cups packed brown sugar, 4 tablespoons melted butter, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla and 1 cup pecans (I like them whole but you can chop them), then mix well. It is suggested to chill this filling for a few minutes so it’s not runny when adding it to the tart tins.
- Substitute: use 1/3 cup Karo syrup, and lessen the number of eggs to one.
Bake tarts at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until slightly browned. Fast and delicious!
3. Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Come fall apples are in full swing, and so are those beloved, tried and true caramel apples. Here is a rich, decadent cheesecake bar version of that sweet fall treat. This recipe may seem fussy with the number of steps, but it goes by fast and you’ll be in heaven after the first bite!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make the crust, in a medium bowl combine 2 cups flour, and 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar. Cut softened 1 cup softened butter in with 2 forks or blender until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly in a 9×13 baking pan, lined with heavy aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes or until slightly browned.
To make the cheesecake, in a large bowl 8 ounces (3 packages) of cream cheese that’s been softened with 3/4 cup sugar until smooth. Mediums speed is recommended for an electric beater. Add 3 large eggs, one at a time and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Blend all that well until its creamy. Pour our crust that has been warmed by pre-baking.
For the apple topping, in a bowl, stir 3 Granny smith apples (or whichever you prefer), that have been peeled, cored and finely chopped. Mix apples with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Spoon this evenly over cheesecake layer.
To make the streusel topping (last step before baking this delight), in a small bowl combine 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, and 1/2 cup butter (softened). Blend this really well so it’s smooth. Sprinkle the streusel over the apple toppings and bake the whole thing for 40-45 minutes, or until it’s set. Drizzle with 1/2 cup caramel topping, let cool, then serve and enjoy!
4. Sea Salt Butterscotch And Pretzel Cookies
Like I’ve never been a big fan of cookies or even pretzels but honestly, my mouth was watering as soon as I discovered this cookie existed! The perfect combo of sweet and salty, and no pumpkin in sight!
To make these cookies, you’ll start by melting 1 cup of butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then bring it to a boil. Once there, swirl or stir is continuous until the butter turns an amber color. Remove saucepan from the burner and allow butter to cool for 20 minutes.
While it’s cooling, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then set aside for now. In a bowl, mix together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Set that aside as well.
Take your now cooled butter, and add 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. When combined, pour this mixture into the flour mixture and stir using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until dough forms.
Stir in, by hand, 3/4 cups butterscotch chips, 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, and 1 cup coarsely chopped pretzels. This step takes some arm and wrist strength, for sure. Take your now made dough and plop about 2 tablespoons worth of dough, 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. When cooling, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.