Some of us make do with store-bought pies of pumpkin, apple and maybe cherry to top off Thanksgiving dinner and kick off the holiday season. Others aim to outdo themselves each year with homemade confections for the annual dessert table, although few likely go as far as author and humorist Charles Phoenix did three Thanksgivings ago.

His creation, the Cherpumple, combines three cakes and three pies, giving family members an easier way to sample all the holiday desserts, Phoenix told The Wall Street Journal in 2010. Few if any desserts can beat the Cherpumple when it comes to sheer mass, but that doesn’t mean dessert enthusiasts aren’t continuing to innovate. From Betty Crocker to Baskin-Robbins to high-end bakeries, Thanksgiving ushers in an annual push to put new sweet treats on the front burner.

For the third year, Betty Crocker has released its take on the hot trends, starting with the growing penchant for dessert bakers to use more secret ingredients, layers and spirits in their creations this year, according to this news release, which also includes a slew of recipes by way of illustrating each trend.

This year’s list includes a nod to nutrition trends, putting gluten-free at No. 5. Still, no matter how much we debate the issues of obesity, nutrition and healthy eating throughout the rest of the year, “decadence” is the keyword when the talk turns to holiday desserts.

At Baskin-Robbins, dessert makers take the holiday themes literally, promoting ice-cream cakes in the shape of a turkey and a smaller turkey leg-shaped treat in a news release that also cites a survey saying some 59% of Thanksgiving dinner guests bring dessert as their offering.

Upscale bakeries may not make turkey-shaped cakes, but the traditional fall and winter flavors are still evident in their decadent holiday creations, including the pumpkin brioche and pumpkin cheesecake at Eatzi in Dallas, The Dallas Morning News reported this month, in a story about how some foodies and bakers are growing more adventurous in their Thanksgiving desserts.

In addition to innovation, the old laws of supply and demand may also influence the dessert selections this year. Just Pies in Dallas won’t serve up the Chocolate-Covered Cherry Pie that proved popular there last year, because of a serious weather-related tart-cherry shortage, co-owner Shannon Arnold Foltz told The Dallas Morning News.

Still, Mother Nature may prove the mother of invention — Just Pies has “amped up” its Turtle Pie to make up for the lack of last year’s favorite. “There will be a pecan crust, a layer of caramel, custardlike chocolate filling, then it’s topped with caramel and pecans again.”

How are you meeting your guests’ demand for holiday sweet treats? Tell us about your trends and traditions in the comments.

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