These easy fall dessert recipes are a great foil for a busy back-to-school season. Pressed for time? Go with a dessert that can be made a day or two ahead of time or cheat a little and use partially processed ingredients like frozen puff pastry, canned pumpkin, Cool Whip topping to give yourself a head start.
Having company over for dinner? Start with our first sweet and savoury dessert – the perfect ending to a sophisticated meal.
Savory Brie and Pear Puff Pastries
Frozen puff pastry may be one of the most versatile convenience items on the market. When you have a package in your freezer, you can whip up rich savory appetizers, elegant main dishes, and even delicious buttery desserts in no time. The perfect combination of sweet and savory ingredients adds versatility to this dish: either serve as a decadent dessert or a rich appetizer by playing up either the savory or sweet elements. NOTE: Since this recipe only uses half a package of frozen puff pastry, you will have to use the remaining half within a day for another recipe – or simply double this one.
1/2 package frozen puff pastry
1 medium pear ripe but firm, cut into thin slices
2 oz Brie cheese, cut into thin slices, rind removed
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
1. Thaw puff pastry in refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.
2. Position rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. Open thawed puff pastry and carefully unfold, taking care not to crack it. Place puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll pastry into a large rectangle with a floured rolling pin. Cut in half with a sharp knife and carefully wrap one portion in plastic before returning to the refrigerator.
4. Place the remaining rectangle on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. To create a picture frame effect, cut around the perimeter of the sheet with a sharp knife about 1/2” from the outside edge, but do not cut all the way through.
5. Dock the pastry inside the cut you just made with a fork just like you would a pie crust. Add the Brie in a single layer on top of the interior portion. Top with pear slices, then sprinkle with thyme leaves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Brush top with maple syrup to evenly coat.
6. Create an egg wash by whisking one tablespoon of water with one egg yolk. Brush mixture over the outside exposed portion of the puff pastry before placing in oven.
7. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, or until the “picture frame” part of the pastry puffs up and turns golden brown.
8. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Easy Cinnamon Apple Tarts
1 pack frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pint heavy whipped cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1. Defrost puff pastry in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
2. In a large glass bowl, blend 1 pint of heavy whipping cream with a hand or immersion blender until it doubles in size and changes texture. Then, drizzle maple syrup into the bowl and continue blending until the mixture is light and fluffy; set aside.
3. Adjust baking rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
4. Prepare an egg wash by beating one egg yolk with water until thoroughly combined; set aside.
5. Remove thawed puff pastry from refrigerator. Place pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a uniform square shape and cut into 4 equal-sized squares. Place squares on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pierce the center of each pastry square with a fork and place in the freezer while preparing the apple mixture.
6. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add apple slices to pan and cook for several minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves to pan and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
7. Remove prepared puff pastry from freezer and spoon ¼ of the apple mixture into the center of each square. Fold each corner toward the middle of the square to close the pastry, taking care to leave a couple of openings to vent.
8. Brush puff pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with additional cinnamon if you wish.
9. Place the baking sheet in the pre-heated oven on the middle rack. Bake until pastry is light and puffy, approximately 25–30 minutes. When ready, the tart should be a rich golden brown. Actual cooking time will vary with individual oven, so keep a close eye on the pastries to avoid over-browning.
10. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. To serve, top with maple whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.
5-Ingredient Chewy Coconut Macaroons
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes 8-10 macaroons
2 large egg whites
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
¼ teaspoon salt
1. Place the top oven rack in the center position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat® baking sheet and set aside.
2. Using a hand mixer, briskly beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the honey, vanilla, coconut and salt into the egg whites with a spatula until thoroughly combined. Do not overwork.
3. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between to prevent overcrowding.
4. Transfer baking sheet into the oven and bake until cookies become golden brown on top and around the edges, around 12-14 minutes. Make sure you check after 10 minutes to prevent over-browning, as cooking time may vary slightly.
5. Remove from oven and cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Canned Pumpkin Pudding
2 cups short grain rice
6 cups whole milk
1 cup white sugar
½ vanilla bean, split down the middle
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
¼ cup orange juice (fresh if possible)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup canned pumpkin
¼ cup dark brown sugar
TIP: This recipe can be made two days in advance.
1. Combine rice, milk, sugar, vanilla bean, orange zest, orange juice and salt in a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat until thoroughly mixed, stirring often. Once mixed, reduce to a low heat and continue to cook until rice is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat.
2. Remove the vanilla bean from the mix. Add in the pumpkin. Allow to cool.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When re-warming to serve, add 1½ cups of milk and stir in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Serve warm with a sprinkle of dark sugar.
2¼ cups white sugar, divided
3½ cups thickened cream, divided
Pinch of salt
TIP: This recipe can be made one day in advance.
1. Peel zest off lemons and cut into thin 1-inch strips. Place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover; bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and return zest to saucepan.
2. Add to saucepan 1¼ cups of the sugar, 1¼ cups of water and bring to boil. Simmer over medium heat until syrup has reduced by a third. Use a fork or slotted spoon to remove the zest pieces and add them into the remaining sugar.
3. Add 3 cups of the cream to the lemon syrup in the saucepan and simmer until reduced by a third.
4. Juice your 4 lemons; add juice and pinch of salt to the saucepan. Allow to cool slightly, then pour mixture into pudding glasses or small bowls and chill in refrigerator overnight until set. Serve with a dollop of the remaining cream and garnish with zest pieces.
Choco Bread Pudding
4 cups whole milk
4 medium sized eggs
½ cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter or margarine
12 ounces milk chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 loaf white bread, crusts removed
1 pint thickened cream, whipped till firm
1. Whisk the milk, eggs and sugar in a saucepan, then add butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Keep stirring until both butter and chocolate have melted. Add vanilla and remove from heat.
2. Lightly coat a 13″x9″ baking tray with oil. Arrange the bread slices in 3 layers and pour heated sauce mixture over the top.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and place a second baking tray on top to weight it down. Leave to sit for one hour. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Remove top baking tray. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream.
Cheeky Chocolate Pudding
8 triangles of Swiss milk chocolate nougat bar
1½ cups thawed Cool Whip topping
1. Microwave chocolate in a microwaveable bowl on High for 1 minute. Allow to cool for 1 minute.
2. Add whipped topping, stirring with a whisk to allow to air.
3. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Baked Apple Wedges
6 sweet firm apples, peeled, cored & cut into 8 wedges
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons butter, melted
¾ cup white sugar, divided
1/3 cup rum or ½ cup maple syrup
2 pints vanilla ice cream
1. Mix apple wedges with the lemon juice, butter, and sugar (leaving two tablespoons of sugar for later). Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
2. Bake the apples at 356F until soft. Sprinkle remaining sugar over and continue baking until sugar melts.
3. Gently heat the rum or maple syrup in a saucepan.
4. Serve the apples with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with the heated sauce.