3 Thanksgiving Desserts That Are Easy to Share, Even in a Pandemic

Though you’re probably not splitting a slice of pie with a non-pod friend this Thanksgiving, you can still bake and share these single-s...


Though you’re probably not splitting a slice of pie with a non-pod friend this Thanksgiving, you can still bake and share these single-serving desserts without the creeping anxiety of potentially getting anyone sick.

Even the logistics of cutting a whole pie and handing out wedges can feel like a lot right now. To get around that and make baking the therapeutic joy it should be, go small with these takes on pecan, sweet potato and cranberry pies. Whether they’re for doorstep delivery or for a masked, socially distanced outdoor gathering, these pre-portioned desserts get around the awkward middle-school-dance nerves of desperately wanting — and not wanting — to get close to others.

Some bakers have already pivoted to smaller goods. Cheryl Day, a cookbook author, chef and owner of Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Ga., saw orders for large cakes decline, so she started selling more cupcakes — and then mini cupcakes. “Those are taking off,” Ms. Day said by phone.

“For Thanksgiving, people are still craving the comforts of traditions, so we’re doing pumpkin pie bars,” she said. “Maybe there’s just two people at home, so they’ll just get a couple bars.”

When turning desserts into individually portioned sweets, it’s important to consider how to package them for delivery. Paola Velez, the executive pastry chef at La Bodega at Compass Rose in Washington, D.C., saw that firsthand this past summer. As a co-founder of Bakers Against Racism, Ms. Velez helped organize large-scale bake sales with contactless delivery for the pandemic era. She said she had been impressed by New York City bakers who optimized the space of generic takeout boxes by filling them with square-edged treats.

With her packaging, Ms. Velez takes inspiration from her Dominican heritage. “For Latinx culture, we utilize different containers and put things in that you typically wouldn’t,” she said. “If you buy a tin of cookies, you keep the tin for sewing needles or cake. We reuse and repurpose vessels from home. It’s kind of fun to see, like, a rum cake in a metal box.”

However these sweets are packed, they’ll surprise as portable versions of pie, loosely defined here as crust plus filling.

[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]

Buttery shortbreads sandwiching a soft pecan praline taste like the prime edge of pie, where gooey filling caramelizes onto crust. The “crust” in these cookies is crisp and rich with nuts. In one-bite sweet potato pies, a delicate filling blends coconut milk and rum and sets easily over spiced graham cracker crusts when baked in mini-muffin molds. Even though lemon bars feel more bake sale than Thanksgiving, this version starts with a simple cranberry jam. It tastes like the holidays and adds a tangy brightness that refreshes after a heavy meal and a long year.

Though these desserts all keep well, they’re more enjoyable to make when most of them are given away.

“I found myself doing porch drop-offs for friends who couldn’t get out,” Ms. Day said. “There’s something special about being able to leave something you made yourself with a personal note.”

Recipes: Mini Sweet Potato Pies | Pecan Pie Sandwich Cookies | Cranberry Lemon Bars

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Newsrust: 3 Thanksgiving Desserts That Are Easy to Share, Even in a Pandemic
3 Thanksgiving Desserts That Are Easy to Share, Even in a Pandemic
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