By Penelope Wall , November 16, 2010 - 11:31am
I’ve never hosted Thanksgiving dinner before and I don’t think I will, so long as the more seasoned home cooks in my family keep inviting my husband and me to their houses for the holiday.
For every household hosting Thanksgiving this year, there are plenty of households not hosting (i.e., being the guests). Since I'm not going to roast a turkey, I want to offer to help out somehow. My favorite contribution? Bringing a beautiful dessert to share. It’s a great way to try a new recipe and contribute to the meal without being in the way or taking up precious oven space when I get there. Read: make-ahead, totable, super-easy AND delicious. (A bonus if it can still say “Thanksgiving” without knocking me and everyone else over with a 10-pound block of butter.)
These 5 recipes fit that bill perfectly.
Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Desserts 
22 More Stunningly Easy Desserts for Turkey Day 
Deep-Dish Apple Pie & More Fabulous Fall Pie Recipes 
Luscious Pumpkin Desserts 
Hot Fudge Pudding Cake and More Chocolate Cake Recipes 
Glazed Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake 
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 3 1/2 hours (including cooling time) | Equipment: 12-cup Bundt pan | To make ahead: Prepare through Step 4 up to 1 day ahead. Glaze and garnish (Step 5) shortly before serving.
You don’t have to have pumpkin pie to still enjoy pumpkin and spice in a Thanksgiving dessert. This tender, moist cake uses pureed pumpkin to replace much of the fat and is delicately seasoned with classic Thanksgiving flavors.
Vanilla-Pomegranate Parfaits 
Active time: 45 minutes | Total: 3 3/4 hours (including 3 hours chilling time) | To make ahead: Prepare the compote (Step 1), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Cover and refrigerate parfaits for up to 8 hours.
Rich, creamy, vanilla bean-flecked pudding tempers the tart-sweet pomegranate compote. Pick out small, festive glass dessert dishes for this pretty parfait.
Pumpkin Coconut Tart 
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 2 1/4 hours | To make ahead: Prepare the crust (Step 2), wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Cover and refrigerate the cooled tart for up to 1 day. | Equipment: 11-inch round or 8-by-12-inch rectangular removable-bottom pan
Dark rum, coconut milk, cinnamon, ginger and cloves give this pumpkin tart a complex flavor that matches perfectly with a cup of chai laced with milk.
Maple Walnut Cake 
Active time: 45 minutes | Total: 2 hours | Equipment: 10-inch springform pan | To make ahead: Prepare through Step 5 up to 8 hours ahead. Glaze and decorate the cake (Step 6) when ready to serve.
Reminiscent of a British sticky toffee pudding, this cake gets its moisture from dates; toasted nuts and maple give it an intoxicating fragrance.
Riesling Baked Pears 
Active time: 20 minutes | Total: 1 hour 20 minutes | To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Here’s an elegant yet simple twist on the autumn classic. Pears are oven-poached in Riesling wine, which is known for its floral accents and aromas and hints of honey and pear. Serve this dessert with lightly sweetened ricotta cheese. Delicious hot, room temperature or chilled.
Are you a host or a guest this Thanksgiving? What’s your specialty dish to bring? Tell us what you think below.