It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of good taste in desserts must be in want of a pie to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. Well…actually, it’s a truth ALMOST universally acknowledged. Because there are those among us who, for whatever reason, do. Not. Like. Pie. My mother is one of these people who shuns apple and pumpkin pies for anything else she can find when Thanksgiving dessert time rolls around, even if the options are limited. And while I firmly disagree with the pie-averse, I see no reason why they shouldn’t have equally yummy sweets to conclude this national day of gluttony. Luckily, there are a number of Brooklyn bakeries offering fantastic pie alternatives for Thanksgiving.
Carrot Cheesecake from Junior’s
386 Flatbush Ave Ext., Downtown Brooklyn
I’ve gotta start by honoring my pie-hating mom and giving a shout-out to her favorite Brooklyn-based Thanksgiving dessert. Although carrot cake isn’t typically a Thanksgiving thing, the version made by the hometown heroes at Junior’s is a surprisingly perfect complement to a heavy turkey dinner. The cake is dense in flavor but light in texture, with plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg. The tang of the cream cheese cuts through the carrot cake with refreshing sharpness, and that balance keeps it from sitting too heavily in your (undoubtedly already stuffed) stomach. Junior’s sells the carrot cheesecake in three different sizes, but the largest, which runs for $44.95, is your best value; you can easily feed a Thanksgiving banquet table with one of these babies.
Chocolate Babka from Oneg Bakery
188 Lee Ave, Williamsburg
As Seinfeld taught us all, chocolate babka reigns supreme among New York bakery desserts, particularly if you’re bringing one to a party. You can’t beat a babka. Luckily for us Brooklynites, one of the finest chocolate babkas in the city can be found right in our borough. Oneg Bakery’s version is a chocolate lover’s dream come true: light yeast dough layered with semi-sweet, gooey goodness. You can opt for different degrees of chocolate-dom, too; there’s the regular chocolate babka and the “heavy chocolate” babka, which is just as magnificent as it sounds. Babkas run about $20 each – a bit pricier than other bakeries, but WELL worth it!
Pumpkin Cupcakes from Ladybird Bakery
1112 8th Ave, Park Slope
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without some pumpkin representation at the dessert table. But if pumpkin pie’s not your jam, you can get your seasonal fix another way. Ladybird Bakery’s got a great, travel-sized option for you: pumpkin cupcakes! I know that, as New Yorkers in 2015, we might feel cupcaked out, but you’ll want to hold out a little longer for these ones. The pumpkin cake is well spiced and not-too-sweet, and the cream cheese frosting is whipped, airy, and streaked with more pumpkin to tie all the flavors together. The cupcakes are 4 bucks a pop, and a half-dozen of them will make for a great contribution to a small-ish Thanksgiving gathering.
Caramel Apple Cake from Baked
359 Van Brunt St, Red Hook
There’s really no occasion for which a cake from Baked would be inappropriate. Elementary school graduation? Pass the Baked cake. Parallel-parked for the first time ever? Pass the Baked cake. Community board meeting? For the love of God, PLEASE pass the Baked cake! Fortunately, these Red Hook confection wizards have a Thanksgiving-perfect seasonal cake: Caramel Apple! The apple cake has nice fruit flavor, set off to perfection with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice. But the star of the show is the caramel buttercream – light and sweet, with a rich hint of burnt sugar. An 8-inch cake will run you $39, and it’s plenty to share. That is, if you don’t eat it all yourself. Which you might.
Cannoli at Villabate Alba
7001 18th Ave, Bensonhurst
If you’re lucky enough to have an Italian grandma (or if you’ve ever even MET an Italian grandma), you know very well that a dinner spread isn’t complete without cannoli at the finish. Even though Thanksgiving dinner isn’t quite the same as Nonna’s Sunday gravy, I think the same principles should apply! For the best cannoli Brooklyn has to offer, head down to the Italian-American neighborhood of Bensonhurst and hit up Villabate Alba. This stuff is the real deal: a crispy, toothsome shell and a sweet, smooth filling that lacks the chalky texture of lesser cannoli. Also, they’re a total steal; plain cannoli can be had for as little as $2.50 a piece. Brokesters rejoice!
Kransekake from Leske’s Bakery
7612 5th Ave, Bay Ridge
One of the last vestiges of a once-thriving Norwegian community in Bay Ridge, Leske’s is a real treasure for anyone who values tradition, authenticity, and amazing Scandinavian desserts. Their kransekake is an especially festive offering: it’s an almond cake baked in ring pans and stacked as high as you wanna go, then drizzled with marzipan icing. Norwegians reserve it for special occasions like wedding and holiday dinners, so it’s very on-theme for a Thanksgiving dessert. Leske’s sells kransekake by the ring, and $25 will buy you plenty to feed a party.
Apple Confit Tart from Bien Cuit
120 Smith St, Boerum Hill
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “Pies and tarts are basically the same thing!” And in the general sense, you’re right….but not when we’re talking about adorable, individually-sized tarts! That’s a different thing completely! (C’mon, humor me here.) Boerum Hill’s Bien Cuit offers a variety of almost-too-pretty-to-eat tarts ($5.50-$8), but their most Thanksgiving-appropriate option has to be the apple confit tart. This is some fancy stuff: the apples are bruleed with sugar, layered onto pastry dough, topped with rose creme fraiche, and sprinkled with spiced salt. Then, just to make these tarts the prettiest things you’ll ever see, Bien Cuit adds a candied apple blossom to each one. If you’re trying to impress your judgmental mother-in-law or outshine the pie your Martha Stewart-wannabe sister brought, these are the tarts for you.
Nutellasagna from Robicelli’s
9009 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge
In the mood for lasagna? In the mood for dessert? Lucky for you, you can combine the best of both if you bring a pan of Nutellasagna to your Thanksgiving dinner. Layered in lasagna noodles, you’ll find cannoli custard, roasted hazelnuts, Belgian chocolate and Nutella, all topped with a healthy dose of marshmallows. All of this can be yours in individual slice ($7), loaf pan (serves 5-8, $35) or tray (serves 12-15, $65) form. If you’re going to a dinner though, don’t just bring a single slice. That’s rude.
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