Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

November 15, 2012

Sweet endings: Homemade dessert ideas

Dessert should be one of the highlights of the Thanksgiving meal.

Here, we offer two choices: a flan and a twist on apple pie.

For the flan, a rich, creamy custard with caramelized sugar is topped with sugared rolled oats and dried cranberries that take a long bath in apple brandy.

Though the recipe comes together easily, the first step begins the day before. Just dump the dried cranberries in a bowl with the Calvados, then go on with your life.

By the time the cranberries are ready the next day, you've got just an hour of work left. Just be sure to let the flans cool completely before trying to unmold; they slip out of the ramekins more easily when cool.

As for this Thanksgiving pie, we decided to see what would happen if we transformed that classic treat of autumn — the caramel apple — into a pie. The result was a crazy good no-bake apple pie.

It's also totally versatile. We opted to top our pie with a blend of crumbled shortbread cookies, chopped toasted peanuts and mini chocolate chips. But feel free to cater to your crowd and top the pie with whatever you prefer to coat your caramel apples with. Just aim for about a total of about 1 cup of toppings.

This pie should be assembled just before serving. The apples can be cooked ahead of time. Then when you are ready for dessert, it will take just 15 minutes to finish the recipe and get it to the table.

Caramel Apple Pie

6 baking apples (such as Fuji or Gala), peeled, cored and sliced

1 T. cider vinegar

14-oz. package caramel candies, unwrapped

½ c. half-and-half

1 t. apple pie spice

Pinch salt

9-inch prepared graham cracker crust

½ c. crumbled shortbread cookies

¼ c. chopped toasted peanuts

¼ c. mini chocolate chips

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