The Ranch at Laguna Beach
We rounded up the best dessert recipes to help you “wow” your guests this holiday season.
This season is sure to satisfy your cravings. With Thanksgiving approaching and December holidays following suit, there’s never been a better time to get some new recipes under your sleeve. Whether you’re having a small gathering of loved ones or staying home with your immediate family, you can leave everyone in awe of your sweet creations.
You don’t have to be a renowned pastry chef to get creative in the kitchen. We’ve gathered step-by-step recipes to suit various tastes. Better yet: they all came from some of our favorite chefs and restaurateurs, ranging from recent Netflix star Chef Risa Magid Boyer to Chef Beau MacMillan’s partner in creating a delicious Thanksgiving menu, Ana Garza.
Keep reading for some of the best dessert recipes.
For wine lovers, Thanksgiving dessert is just another opportunity for a perfect pairing.
The Vineyard Rose
APRICOT RIESLING BREAD PUDDING | Executive Chef José Esparza, The Vineyard Rose
For wine lovers, Thanksgiving dessert is just another opportunity for a perfect pairing. Executive Chef José Esparza of The Vineyard Rose restaurant atSouth Coast Winery Resort & Spa in Temecula, California created this recipe Apricot Riesling Bread Pudding to compliment South Coast Winery’s Sparkling Gewurztraminer. The stone fruit and Turkish delight flavors in the wine naturally match and enhance the dried apricots in the dessert.
● ½ lb dried apricots, sliced
● 2 cups Riesling
● 2 cinnamon sticks
● 2 tbsp granulated sugar
● 2 oz butter, unsalted
Place all ingredients for one of the best dessert recipes in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until almost all the liquid is reduced and apricots are reconstituted. Set aside.
BREAD PUDDING INGREDIENTS
● 8 slices brioche, cut to 1-inch cubes
● 3 tbsp butter, unsalted
● 2 cups milk
● 1 cup heavy cream
● 1 cup granulated sugar
● 5 whole eggs
● 1 tsp cinnamon
● 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
BREAD PUDDING METHOD
Place all ingredients in a bowl along with the apricot mixture from above and let sit until bread soaks up most of the liquid and softens. Spray 4-oz portion oven-proof cups with cooking spray and fill with mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.
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The Ranch at Laguna Beach
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE WITH PUMPKIN SEED BRITTLE | Executive Chef Kyle St. John, The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Pumpkin is synonymous with Thanksgiving, but this Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pumpkin Seed Brittle elevates the standard pumpkin pie to become one of the best dessert recipes. Created by Chef Kyle St. John, Executive Chef at The Ranch at Laguna Beach, the dessert epitomizes the chefs’ farm-to-table and whole food philosophy.
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST INGREDIENTS
● 1 cup graham crackers, ground
● ¼ cup sugar
● 1 tbsp cinnamon
● ¾ cup melted butter
CHEESECAKE FILLING INGREDIENTS
● 2 lb cream cheese
● 1 ½ cups brown sugar
● 15 oz pumpkin puree
● 3 large eggs
● ½ tsp ground ginger
● 1 tsp ground cinnamon
● ¼ tsp ground cloves
● ¼ tsp nutmeg
● ¼ tsp salt
● 2 tsp vanilla extract
● ¼ tsp pumpkin spice
● ¼ cup sour cream
● ¼ AP flour
The first step of this selection on our list of the best dessert recipes is to combine graham crackers, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add graham mixture into a bowl and add in melted butter. Combine with hand until combined (shouldn’t be sandy or dry but hold together slightly when pressed.) Form crust in a 9” spring form pan and press down with fingers and about one inch up the sides. Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 325 degrees.
After baking, let cool. Combine cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, vanilla, pumpkin spice and sour cream in a stand mixer with paddle attachment and beat on high for about 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down as you go to get out all the lumps. Reduce speed to medium and add one egg at a time. After eggs have combined add in flour just to mix and until there are no more lumps.
Pour mixture into graham crust and bake at 300 degrees for 60 minutes. The edges of the cheesecake should be completely set, and the center of the cake just slightly wobbles if not baked for another 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the cake in there with the door slightly open for another 10 minutes. This will help it set. Remove to a rack and allow the cake to completely cool to room temperature before moving into the refrigerator.
PUMPKIN SEED BRITTLE
● 2 cups sugar
● 1 cup light corn syrup
● ½ water
● 2 tbsp baking soda
● 2 oz butter, cubed-
● ½ tsp salt
● 1 ½ toasted pumpkin seed
Bring sugar, syrup and water to a boil and cook until golden in color. Remove mixture from heat and add baking soda and butter (be careful, as this will begin to bubble and let off some serious steam) and whisk until combined. If it begins to seize up, bring back over heat to make sure everything is combined.
Add pumpkin seeds and continue to stir, as it will begin to cool down. Spread mixture out on a nonstick baking mat and begin to pull the mixture as it cools to create thin brittle. Don’t worry too much about the shape. You’re looking for a consistent thickness throughout the brittle about a one-eighth of an inch or less.
Let cool completely then break into different sizes for garnish. Let your taste buds sing at the taste of one of the best dessert recipes.
Post Ranch Inn
AUTUMN APPLE COBBLER | Executive Chef Reylon Agustin, Post Ranch Inn
The brand new chef, Reylon Agustin, at the iconic Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur California was inspired by the hotel’s gorgeous grounds overlooking the ocean in creating his Autumn Apple Cobbler, another one of the best dessert recipes. The apples in the dessert come from the enormous 100-year-old heritage apple trees in the Chef’s Garden on the property.
● 6 green apples
● ¾ cup sultana raisins
● Zest of 1 lemon
● Juice of 1 lemon
● 6 tbsp butter
● ½ cup light brown sugar
● ½ tsp ground cinnamon
● ½ tsp ground nutmeg
● ½ tsp ground clove
● 1 cup apple juice
● Salt to taste
Combine raisins, diced apricots, lemon zest and lemon juice into a food processor and pulse to a coarse paste. Melt butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, adding paste, sugar, spices and juice. Simmer until all ingredients are incorporated. Add apples and cook until fork tender. Pack into an oven-ready vessel of your choice and top with granola. Heat for 10 minutes at 225 degrees. Remove and serve.
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CHOCOLATE GANACHE TARTLETS | Chef Risa Magid Boyer, Vanillamore
Fresh off being featured in Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking series, Chef Risa Magid Boyer of Vanillamore in New Jersey releases her new cookbook, Sweet. Savory. Social, featuring Chocolate Ganache Tartlets.
While not a traditional Thanksgiving flavor, the tartlets are a perfect Covid-era treat, as they are sized for individual portions. As a pastry expert, it makes sense that she created another one of the best dessert recipes for us to share.
● 4 oz 64-percent chocolate
● 4 oz 70-percent chocolate
● ¾ cup plus 1 tbsp heavy cream
● 1½ tsp unsalted butter, at room temp
● 24 small tart shells
Chop chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Add corn syrup. Place heavy cream in a small pot over low heat until cream comes to a simmer, then remove from heat.
Avoid boiling. If cream does boil, allow it to cool for about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour overchocolate and corn syrup.
Let sit for about a minute to allow chocolate to begin to melt. Gently stir with a rubber spatula until chocolate is fully melted. Stir in butter. If ganache looks separated or grainy, whisk until smooth. Transfer ganache to a pastry bag and pipe into tartlet shells.
With this tart, you get the taste of apples, caramel, bourbon and crust all in one delectable bite.
Sanctuary Resort & Spa
SALTY CARAMEL PANNA COTTA TART | Chef Ana Garza, Elements at Sanctuary Resort & Spa
When you work with energetic Chef Beau MacMillan, a frequent Food Network guest chef, to create the Thanksgiving menu for Elements at Sanctuary Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, you have to bring your A game. And that’s just what Le Cordon Bleu trained pastry chef, Ana Garza, has done with her Salty Caramel Panna Cotta Tart. That’s why it’s one of the best dessert recipes for this holiday season.
“I wanted to keep the flavors of fall but do a dessert that is lighter than a traditional pie,” Garza said. With this tart, you get the taste of apples, caramel, bourbon and crust all in one delectable bite.
PANNA COTTA INGREDIENTS
● 2 cups milk
● 2 ¾ cups cream
● 4 tsp gelatin
● 2 cups salty caramel sauce
PANNA COTTA METHOD
Pour approximately one-third of the milk into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over top. In a large sauce pot, bring the remaining milk to a simmer. Pour the gelatin mixture into the hot milk and stir until dissolved. Pour salted caramel into warm cream mixture and stir to combine. Pour in the cold heavy cream and emulsify with an immersion blender. Let the mixture cool to room temperature then pour over the ganache.
You can’t finish this dessert recipe without one of the best fall flavors: salted caramel.
SALTY CARAMEL INGREDIENTS
● 1 ½ cups sugar
● ½ cup water
● 1 ½ cup heavy cream
● 1 tbsp salt
SALTY CARAMEL METHOD
Combine sugar and water in a pot. Cook until amber color. Take off the heat and slowly add cream. Put back on the burner on low and cook until bubbly. Add salt.
TART DOUGH INGREDIENTS
● 18 oz all-purpose flour
● 2 ½ tbsp sugar
● 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
● 10 oz cold butter, cubed
● 5 oz ice water
TART DOUGH METHOD
In a mixer fitted with a paddle, mix together flour sugar and salt. Add the cubed butter and mix until the mixture looks crumbly. Add ice water and mix just until the dough comes together. Pour dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push together. Form the dough into two disks and wrap individually in plastic.
Let rest in the refrigerator at least one hour before using. Mix the salty caramel into the panna cotta mixture. Roll tart dough to ¼ inch then gently press the dough into an individual tart pan. Trim the excess dough at the edges. Chill the dough for another 30 minutes.
Line the chilled dough with parchment paper and fill the inside of the shell with pie weights. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights and continue to bake for 10 minutes or until the center is golden. Cool completely. Now, move on to the apple filling of one of the best dessert recipes around.
APPLE FILLING INGREDIENTS
● 1 Granny Smith apple
● 1 tbsp butter
● ¼ cup brown sugar
● ¼ maple syrup
APPLE FILLING METHOD
Cook the apple over medium heat in a pan along with 1 tbsp of butter, ¼ cup of brown sugar and ¼ cup maple syrup. Once the apples are soft, deglaze with 2 tbsp of bourbon. Cool the apple mixture completely. To assemble, fill the cooked pie shell with apple filling then fill the rest of the tart with the salty caramel panna cotta. Chill in the fridge overnight.