Traditional Thanksgiving Desserts Made Easy

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Thanksgiving is on the way, and while it may look a little different, don’t skimp on your traditional favorite desserts! Since you may be entertaining smaller groups, you may want to make desserts easy an in smaller amounts!! Here are some easy ways to get your favorite tastes without all of the extra time and trouble, some may even be a little lighter!!

Caramel Apple Pie Trifle


(This one is modified from a WW recipe)

  • 8 cups fresh apples, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons reduced fat butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons water
  • 1 angel food cake, cut in half and into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 packs of already prepared vanilla pudding, or make your own from a box mix
  • 1 container fat free frozen Cool Whip, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons caramel Sunday syrup


  1. For the apples; In a large microwave-safe bowl, add butter, cover, and melt in microwave, about 20 seconds. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and water. Fold in chopped apples. Mix well. Cook in microwave about 8-10 minutes, until apples are soft. There will be a lot of additional liquid, reserve. Cool apples, about an hour in the refrigerator.
  2. To assemble the trifle; In a large serving bowl or trifle dish, place half of the angel food cake pieces on the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle half of the cooled apples evenly over the cake. Dollop 1 package of pudding all over the top of the apples, if you made your own, distribute half. Spread around evenly. Spread ½ container Cool Whip evenly over the pudding. Drizzle 1 ½ tablespoons caramel syrup over the top of the Cool Whip.
  3. Repeat the steps starting with angel food cake and ending with Cool Whip and caramel syrup drizzled over the top.
  4. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight, before serving. Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Yields 16 servings.


Pumpkin Pie Spice Rice Krispie Treats


  • ¼ cup butter
  • 8 cups mini marshmallows, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups Rice Krispie cereal


  1. Coat a 9 x 13-inch pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat melt the butter. Once melted, continue to cook until butter starts to brown, stirring the pan consistently. It should turn a golden brown.
  3. Add 6 cups of the marshmallows, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and vanilla into the butter. Stir constantly until the marshmallows are melted. Immediately remove from the heat.
  4. Stir in the rice krispie cereal and the remaining 2 cups of marshmallows until coated in the marshmallow mixture.
  5. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and press evenly.
  6. Allow krispies to cool and cut into bars.
  7. Store airtight at room temperature.

Yields 20 bars.

Pecan Pie Cookies


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt
  • 1 ½ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar, divided
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line to half sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together 1 cup brown sugar with the butter on medium-high, until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula between additions. Mix together until just combined.
  3. Shape dough into roughly 1 ¼ inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto the parchment-lined pans. Make indentation in each cookie with your thumb, rotating your thumb to hollow it out into a round well.
  4. Whisk together 1/2 cup brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and cream in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Fold in the pecans. Fill the well of each cookie with a teaspoon of the pecan filling. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool for 2-3 minutes, then carefully transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Yields 32 cookies.


Cheesecake Cups with Apple Topping


For the cheesecake

  • 12 vanilla wafers
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 5.3-ounce container fat free vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

For the topping

  • 1 tablespoon light butter
  • 1 ½ cups peeled and chopped apples
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup water


  1. For the cheesecakes; Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place cupcake liners into 12 cups of a standard-sized muffin pan. Place a single vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cup.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, yogurt, 1/3 cup of sugar, egg, vanilla extract, lemon juice and cinnamon and mix together using an electric mixer until smooth and well combined. Spoon the mixture evenly on top of the wafers into the prepared liners and spread flat. Bake for 15-16 minutes and remove from the oven to cool. Once the cheesecake cups have cooled to room temperature, transfer the cheesecake cups to the refrigerator and chill for at least one hour.
  3. For the apple topping; In a small saucepan, bring the butter to medium heat until melted. Add the chopped apples and stir to coat. Cook uncovered for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a small dish, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon and stir together. Pour the sugar mixture and the water into the pot with the apples and stir to combine. Cover the saucepan and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is thick and apples are tender.
  4. Top each cheesecake cup with a tablespoon and serve.

Yields 12.