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Best fall dessert recipes for back-to-school


In light of the current pandemic and North’s distance learning plan, many students have been at home looking for an enjoyable leisure activity. After trying a sizable amount of new hobbies such as gardening and reading, I decided to spend a good portion of my time baking goodies for myself and my family. If you are looking for some back-to-school recipes to capture the sweet flavors of autumn, here is a list of five tried and true treats that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Pumpkin Pie

Bursting with flavor, this pumpkin pie recipe is my very favorite. It’s rich, smooth, and when taking a bite, you get a whiff of spicy aroma fragrance from the cinnamon and the nutmeg, with the tiniest bit of spicy punch from the ginger to set off the richness.

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 (14 ounce) can Condensed Milk
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour into the crust. Bake for 15 minutes. 
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted one inch into the crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Chai Cupcakes

If you are a fan of Chai Tea or Chai Tea Lattes, you’ll really enjoy these cupcakes that have the perfect balance of the cozy, spicy blend you love. Each cupcake is buttery, light, and topped with a decadent spiced cream frosting.

  • ½ teaspoon each ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup 2% milk


  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons 2% milk
  1. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and pepper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and 1 ½ teaspoons spice mixture. Gradually add ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
  3. Fill 12 paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° F for 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy; beat in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and remaining spice mixture until smooth. Add enough milk to reach desired consistency. Pipe frosting over cupcakes.

Pecan Pie Tarts

These bite-sized tarts are both sweet and nutty and have a good mixture of textures between the crunchy nuts, the crispy crust, and the gooey filling. The pecans and the buttery crust are a great contrast to the sugariness of the caramel-like flavor of the filling.

  • 6 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup of butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups of packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups chopped pecans 
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  2. Grease 30 tart tins or muffin cups and set aside.
  3. To Make Crust: In a medium mixing bowl cream together cream cheese and 1 cup butter until light and fluffy. Blend in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, forming a smooth dough. Roll into 30 equal balls and press one into each greased cupcake tin so it lines the bottom and sides, like a pie crust.
  4. To Make Filling: In a medium mixing bowl cream together 1/4 cup butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Stir in pecans. Fill each lined tin half full. Mixture will rise as it bakes.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool in tins, then use the end of a table knife to flip each tart out of its tin.

Cranberry-Carrot Layer Cake

This moist cake wrapped in a decadent and rich cream cheese frosting is the perfect addition to any meal! This deliciously rich carrot cake with a modern twist, dried cranberries, is a wonderful experience for your palate, and the contrast of the ground ginger in the cream cheese frosting to the orange zest in the cake is delectable.   

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange zest, optional
  • Sugared cranberries, optional
  1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, brown sugar, oil and orange zest. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and cloves; gradually add to egg mixture and mix well. Stir in carrots and cranberries.
  2. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar, milk, ginger and orange zest if desired.
  4. Cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate; spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of the cake. If desired, top with sugared cranberries.

Apple Crisp

The crispy cinnamon topping adds texture, while providing a bit of sweetness to the smooth, baked apples. This dessert is best served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

  • 10 cups all-purpose apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Place the sliced apples in a 9×13 inch pan. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all.
  3. Combine the oats, one cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes.
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