3 hearty, unexpected fall desserts that don’t involve making pie crust

Fall baking is about more than just pumpkin and apple pies. When we’re planning the dessert course for weekend dinner parties (or hey, just Thursday night’s treat), we glean inspiration from fall colors and cooling temperatures just as often as fall ingredients. Caramel, warm spice and golden brown toppings all make an appearance in our favorite new fall desserts.

Cast Iron Apple Cobbler
Fewer dishes are more comforting in fall than a warm apple cobbler. In our cast iron skillet version, we use tart Granny Smith apples to offset the sweetness of the sweet, caramel-y filling. Granny Smiths also maintain some of their texture throughout the baking process, so you won’t end up with applesauce cobbler. We like to saute our apples to cook out some of their moisture, then we build the filling directly in the skillet. Several dollops of bisuit dough makes up the topping for the cobbler for a fluffy, sweet finish.
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Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch pudding takes a little skill to master, but your dedication will be rewarded with a pudding that puts all store-bought versions to shame. You’ll need to stir up a simple caramel and fortify it with cream before whisking in a thickening trio of eggs, egg yolks and cornstarch. It may sound intimidating, but the process is totally worth it. Make sure to have all of the ingredients measured and ready before starting the caramel, because once the caramel begins to darken, it can very quickly go from dark and complex to burnt and ruined.
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Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
If you love the flavor of pumpkin spice, but are already tired of the pie (wow, already?), consider baking this subtly spiced cake layered with orange-y cream cheese frosting. This recipe was submitted by Southern Kitchen reader Catherine Smith and has quickly become a staff favorite. It’ll make for a perfect fall birthday cake or even an alternative dessert for your Thanksgiving table.
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Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She’s worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.