Sweet Endings: Holiday Desserts That Aren’t Pie

Offer your guests something extra special this year. Instead of taking on traditional apple or pumpkin pie, try an alternative (or addition) for a memorable finale to your Thanksgiving meal.

Holiday cheese plate. Photo: Brooke Larke

Dessert doesn’t have to be overly complicated or stressful. Skip pies and go for variety: serve an assortment of chocolate truffles and homemade cookies.

Or opt for an artisan cheese plate over a cheesecake. Select soft and creamy brie cheese, and glaze it with apricot or cherry preserves, then sprinkle toasted walnuts. Contrast your selection of cheese with a sharp, tangy cheddar and a soft, creamy blue like Point Reyes Original Blue. Serve with sugared Ines Rosales’ Tortas or Leslie Stowe’s seeded Raincoast Crisps.

Read on for some tasty and healthy recipes. And if you do go for pie or cake, be sure to have some CONES handmade organic ice cream on hand.

Quick Cranberry Cobbler

Recipe & photo from marthastewart.com

Seize the flavor of the season with this simple recipe. Use the pucker-ific flavor of fresh cranberries. Serve cobbler with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.


  • 1 large egg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Stir together cranberries and 2 tablespoons sugar. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and egg, then whisk in butter. Whisk milk mixture into flour mixture until combined.

Pour batter into skillet and scatter cranberries on top. Bake until center springs back when lightly touched, 25 to 30 minutes.

Paleo Salted Caramel Pecan Bars

Recipe yields 12 bars, photo from Alessandra Peters

These bars are decadent way to finish a meal. Plus, they’re Paleo, gluten free and vegan! Serve them with a scoop of the Co-op’s own CONES ice cream.


    For the Shortbread Crust:

    • 3/4 cup pecans
    • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp coconut flour
    • 1/4 cup arrowroot starch
    • pinch salt
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3 tbsp maple syrup

    For the Salted Caramel Pecan Filling:

    • 1 1/2 cups pecans, roughly chopped
    • 2 tbsp full-fat coconut milk
    • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil
    • 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
    • 1 tsp arrowroot starch
    • 3 tbsp maple syrup


    Preheat the oven to 325 F. Make the shortbread dough: place the pecans in a food processor and process until very fine, 60-90 seconds. The result should look like almond flour. Add in the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes, until firm.

    Roll the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap until it is 1/4 inch thick. Trim until it measures 5×5 inches, then transfer it to a lined 5×5 inch baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. While it cools, make the filling.

    To make the filling, spread the pecans on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from the oven, then place the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk constantly for 3-4 minutes, until the sauce is thick, smooth, and golden. Fold in the pecan chunks, then pour the mixture over the shortbread crust.

    Bake for another 15 minutes, then let cool for at least half an hour before cutting up into bars. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


    Pumpkin Hand Pies

    Recipe & Photo from strongertogether.coop

    How could you improve upon pumpkin pie? By making it into adorable single-serving hand pies of course! These delicious treats feature a buttery, flaky crust topped with crunchy cinnamon sugar.


    • 2 cups unbleached flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
    • 10 tablespoons ice water (approximate)
    • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
    • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
    • 1 large egg
    • 3 tablespoons Turbinado sugar


    In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; mix well. Using the large holes of a grater, grate in cold butter, tossing to coat with flour. Keep tossing with a fork as you drizzle in ice water a tablespoon at a time. When flour is moistened, use your hands to gently mix the dough, pressing it into a ball (add another tablespoon or two of water if needed).  Divide the ball into 8 equal portions, and form each into a disk. Chill  for 30 minutes.

    Place cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add pumpkin, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and process until smooth. Scrape out into a small bowl and chill for 30 minutes.

    Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Whisk egg with a tablespoon of water. In a small bowl, mix the Turbinado sugar with the remaining cinnamon. On a lightly floured counter, roll out each dough disk to an oval shape, about 6 by 4 inches. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each oval, and brush egg wash around the edges with a pastry brush. Fold dough over the filling and seal edges with a fork. Place each hand pie on the prepared pan; brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

    Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and crisp. Cool pies for at least 5 minutes before serving.

    By: Claire

    ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.