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Creative Thanksgiving Desserts! Plus NEW: Lightened-Up Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée


Make it homemade this holiday with my selection of well tested sweets you will want to save room for! Recipes have dynamic and vibrant flavors with a healthier profile. Something for everyone!

Chocolate Crème Brûlée
Lightened-Up Chocolate Crème Brûlée – a not-too-rich custard that is served with a caramelized layer of sugar on top.
A cracked caramel-sugar top with a creamy chocolate dessert underneath.
Made entirely with milk, not a drop of heavy cream! 
Lightened-Up: Creamy, decadent and delicious… decadent but not too rich!

It is such a joy to create scrumptious Thanksgiving Desserts!
Delve into recipes you are comfortable making – and try a few new recipes.

Remember to serve many contrasting flavors, textures… and colors.
A mix of:

  • Fruity
  • Pumpkin-y,
  • Chocolatey
  • Nutty
  • Creamy (ice cream, whipped cream, custard sauce)

To consider as well ~VARIATION!  I’m making a big mix this year… Apple Raspberry Tarts, Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée, Coconut Vanilla Bean Vegan Ice Cream and Pecan Pie Bars. 
Think of your gluten free and vegan guests too! 

Here’s my line-up of my favorite Thanksgiving Desserts:

Lightened-Up Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Chocolate Biscotti Crust and Honey Peanuts

My newest Obsession! Loving the light feel and creamy texture of this cheesecake with addictive chocolate-peanut flavors.

A smooth and decadent Cheesecake made with Cottage Cheese – no cream cheese here!

The crust is made from my Chocolate Peanut Biscotti – with a little melted butter for binding. Honey peanuts are a snap to make – top the cakes edges with them!

Chocolate Peanut Biscotti – They’re Gluten Free!
Karen’s Easy Honey Peanuts
Pecan Pie Bars (with a Secret Ingredient)

Easier than pie… Pecan Pie that is!
The Ultimate Pick-Up Bar ~ Perfect for the Holidays! 
A press-in shortbread crust with a pour-on-top filling enriched with a crunchy pecan topping. Delish!

Poached Pears in Spiced Red Wine & Pomegranate Juice (with Caramel Zabaglione)
Poached Pears in Spiced Red Wine & Pomegranate Juice (with Caramel Zabaglione)

The perfect ending to a holiday meal (Thanksgiving!) Spiced, beautiful pears swimming in a ruby syrup with a creamy zabaglione custard.
This is one of those easy recipes that is great for entertaining because the pears turn a gorgeous ruby color when poached, creating a spectacular presentation. Easily can make ahead of time.

Vegan Apple Raspberry Crisp

This easy to prepare fall dessert is bursting with harvest flavors: fruit is blanketed with a crisp cinnamon, pecan and oat layer.
Treat your company to a healthier dessert – and your kitchen will smell of warm, comforting flavors.

Applesauce Linzer Bars (Gluten-Free Variation as well)

Tastes like an apple crumb pie in a bar! Perfect for your Thanksgiving dessert buffet – not too sweet with a touch of warm spices.
The mixture (dough) doubles as a topping.
Oatmeal, Almonds and Walnuts in the crust – Topping adds a healthy content and fiber.

Karen’s Fall Apple Cake with Streusel and Caramelized Apples

For an extra layer of “yum” top the cake with my Caramelized Apples and Caramel Drizzle. OR – top vanilla bean ice cream with it! (See recipe for my vegan ice cream below!)

Amazing Caramelized Apple Cake – Gluten Free and Dairy Free

Need a fabulous Gluten Free + Vegan dessert?
A moist cake with warm spices topped with Caramelized Apple Slices and baked with Fine Almond Flour.
I top it with a drizzle of Vanilla Bean Rum Glaze. A healthy new alternative recipe.

Caramel Vanilla Bean Vegan Ice Cream

This recipe is Vegan, Non-Dairy and naturally Gluten Free… and irresistible! The ingredients are super-simple – Coconut Milk and Pure Cane Sugar are the main components. For flavoring, add vanilla bean gel (I’ll tell you where to find it in the recipe), crystallized ginger, pumpkin spices, coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt (try pink himalayan). Serve with everything!!

Fabulous Black Raspberry Pie!
Fabulous Black Raspberry Pie!

Substitute Raspberries and use a local variety of Apples to make this dessert shine on your Thanksgiving dessert buffet! Fruit lies under a buttery & flaky lattice crust. Perfection with every bite. You will not believe the crust is Gluten Free! A pie to savor ~ I’ve added a handful of red raspberries for color contrast. This recipe makes 2 smaller 6 inch pies ~ double the recipe for a full sized pie.

Amazing Vanilla Bean Ice Milk
Amazing Vanilla Bean Ice Milk

A lightened-up vision of a favorite dessert. You won’t believe the texture and flavor of the Ice Milk… and it’s not loaded with sugar!

Pumpkin Cider Pie with Shortbread Cookie Crust

A classic pie which is not too sweet due to the natural flavors of the apple cider reduction in the filling.Try a shortbread crust; easy to prepare with a tender, melt-in-your-mouth-texture. Makes one 9″ pie or 4 -5″ tarts.

Fresh Mint Chocolate Truffles – Vegan

These delectable, creamy truffles are truly all-natural with Fresh Mint from my garden. Coconut Milk swaps in for heavy cream for a lighter, vegan treat. Cocao nibs adds a little crunch. Have to have some chocolate dessert at Thanksgiving!

Sesame Wafers – Thin, Crispy & Gluten-Free

The nutty taste of the toasted sesame seeds (benne), a hint of sea salt, and the caramel sweet flavor from the coconut brown sugar sugar – a crunchy melange of flavors in these easy to prepare treats… low in fat too!
These cookies are light and crispy and pair well with all your holiday desserts.

From my kitchen to yours ~ enjoy something sweet and homemade this Thanksgiving.
Share Joy!

Also see: Thanksgiving 2021 – Mastering Turkey & Gravy PLUS All the SIDES
Lightened-Up Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Lightened-Up Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée

A cracked caramel-sugar top with a creamy chocolate dessert underneath. Made entirely with milk, not a drop of heavy cream! Lightened-Up: Creamy, decadent and delicious... decadent but not too rich!
Make the custard up to 3 days in advance and make the cracked-sugar top just before serving.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
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For the custard:

  • 2 1/2 cups milk, full fat
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate* small chop
  • 2 large eggs I use pastured raised
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 5 tablespoons pure cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt I use Himalayan Pink
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries optional, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon port optional (for soaking cherries)

The caramelized sugar crust:

  • 6 tablespoons pure cane sugar


For the custard:

  • Heat the milk on the stovetop or microwave until just reaches a simmer.
    Carefully add the chocolate and stir gently to melt.
    Preheat oven to 325 degrees - or 300 degrees with Convection.
  • For cherries: combine chopped cherries with port wine and stir up. Let stand 15 minutes to macerate.
  • Whisk the eggs, yolks and 5 tablespoons sugar in a large heatproof bowl with a wire whisk until light, about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup milk/chocolate, tempering - whisk to combine. Add the rest of the chocolate mixture and the vanilla and sea salt; whisk to combine.
  • Ladle the mixture into 6, 4 - 6 ounce capacity ramekins or oval bakers (I used vintage pyrex.) Add the soaked chopped cherries if using, portioned in each ramekin.
  • Add the ramekins to a baking pan with high sides - boil water and add to the pan - half way up the sides of the ramekins.
    Carefully place in the oven and cook until just set; 25 minutes for a shallow ramekin (like mine), or 40 minutes for a higher one.
    Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate until cold.

The caramelized sugar crust:

  • Have ready the cold Chocolate Crème Brûlées on your work surface.
    Add 6 tablespoons of sugar to a 6" skillet (mine has a pouring spout.) Add to a burner over low heat. Sugar will start to caramelize around the edges. Do not stir, just swirl the pan. Stir with a wooden spoon when almost all the sugar has melted, and has turned a golden-amber color. Do not raise the heat higher. Now, gently stir up to melt all the sugar - quickly and carefully pour about 1 tablespoon of the hot caramelized sugar over each ramekin - pouring as quick as possible to cover each in a thin layer. The sugar can be gently reheated if hardens too quickly.
    The topping will stay crunchy for about one hour. I like to take them out of the refrigerator before serving - make the caramelized sugar, and top each ramekin - giving your guests a little show!


*Dark Chocolate: Use from 60% to 78% cocao. The lower number, the higher the sugar content.
Nutrition is for 12 servings - 2 sharing each ramekin.
This recipe may not be reproduced without the consent of its author, Karen Sheer.
COURSE: Dessert
CUISINE: American, French
KEYWORDS: Chocolate Crème Brûlée, Crème Brûlée, Lightened-Up Crème Brûlée
Nutrition Facts
Lightened-Up Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Vitamin A
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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