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Get Thanksgiving Dessert Done Now (Two Weeks Ahead!)

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Thanksgiving is just 2 weeks away. We repeat: Thanksgiving is in 2 weeks! To help out with the most labor intensive, holiest of cooking holidays, we're giving you a Thanksgiving prep list. This week, we have desserts you can make (and freeze!) right now. If you haven't started your Thanksgiving prep, though, it's not too late to catch-up. Here's what we already covered here and here. Be sure to check back in next week for what you can make just 1 (!) week away from the big day.

There are a lot of Thanksgiving dessert options that can be started 2 weeks out—pie, of course, but also cheesecake, cake, and fruit crisps. Here's how:

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Pie

All the Best Advice for Better Pie Crust—in One Place
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All the Best Advice for Better Pie Crust—in One Place

You can freeze pies, but we wouldn't recommend you freeze fully baked pies, as the crust won't nearly be as good or as wonderfully flaky as you know pie crust to be. However, some prep work ahead of time will save you from having to wrangle with pastry dough while also trying to finagle your turkey into a roasting pan.

To prep an entire pie for freezing, make your pie dough, roll it out, and place it in your pie dish. If you're making pie crust for a pie that needs to be par-baked (like pecan pie), now's the time to also dock the bottom crust and pop it in the oven. Next, prepare your filling, pour it into the pie crust, and top with a second pie crust or whatever adornments you like. (See this article for more information as to whenever you should cook your filling before adding it to the crust.) Place your pies on a baking sheet, put in the freezer until the pie crust—including any latticework or other designs—is firm (the entire pie needn't be fully frozen), and then wrap in plastic wrap and place into a freezer bag. When it comes time to bake, remove the pie from the freezer and bake according to the recipe's instructions, adding 15 minutes or so to account for the pie's frozen state.

There's another pie option, too (and the one I prefer because, to be honest, I have a fear of soggy pie crust when freezing pies, no matter how unfounded this might be). Make a few batches or pie dough, put them in their pie plates, and freeze them. That way, all you have to do is remove from the freezer, add the filling, and bake. For a double-crusted pie, thaw the bottom crust in the fridge before filling and adding the top crust so both crusts are at the same temperature (same temperature=same flakiness, same cook time). You can also freeze the dough in disks wrapped in plastic and kept in a large freezer bag, which can be thawed, rolled out, and baked as needed for all your Thanksgiving pie needs.

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One note: For ease and safety's sake (and damage control), use an aluminum pie plate when freezing pie crust. Glass pie plates could break when placed into the oven from the freezer due to the rather extreme change in temperature. More pie, less shattered glass!

Cheesecake

Cheesecake Pie: Why Didn't We Think of This Earlier?!
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Cheesecake Pie: Why Didn't We Think of This Earlier?!

This is easy as (cheesecake) pie! Make and bake your cheesecake as normal and cool completely. Remove the outer rim of your springform pan (leaving the bottom or, alternatively, transferring the cheesecake to a foil-wrapped piece of very heavy cardboard), place on a baking pan, and freeze until firm. Remove the cheesecake, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in a very large freezer bag as to not squish the cake. You can also wrap the outside in a layer of aluminum foil in lieu of a freezer bag, but be sure it's sealed tight. To thaw the cheesecake, unwrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Note that it's easiest, however, to transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate when it's only partially thawed.

Cake

Pumpkin Cake—and Proud of It
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Pumpkin Cake—and Proud of It

For the pie adverse, cake may well be the Thanksgiving dessert of choice. While we prefer to freeze unfrosted cakes and frost later, you can freeze frosted cakes, too. Here's how to do both:

For cake layers, bake as normal and let cool completely. Wrap the layers in plastic wrap, put them in a freezer bag, and freeze. Thaw in the bag at room temperature overnight. Frost and top as per normal.

For a frosted cake, we recommend freezing the cake in an airtight plastic cake container and thawing in the container in the fridge for several hours or overnight, to minimize any condensation forming on the glaze. If you don't have an airtight plastic cake container, place the frosted cake on a baking sheet, unwrapped, and freeze until very firm. Remove the cake from the freezer, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in a very large freezer bag (or wrap in a layer of aluminum foil). Make sure you're wrapping isn't too tight! You don't want to flatten your frosting. To thaw, unwrap and thaw in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

crisps and crumbles

No-Peel Apple Crisp
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No-Peel Apple Crisp

This is so easy you'll want to always have apple crisp waiting in your freezer. Simply prep your recipe up to the actual baking step, using an aluminum tin in lieu of a glass one to, again, avoid breakage. Wrap well in plastic wrap, then place in a freezer bag or wrap in a layer of aluminum foil, and freeze. You can bake straight from the freezer (after unwrapping), adding a few minutes to the cook time to account for the crumble's frozenness, or allow to thaw covered and then bake uncovered until the top's browned and the fruit is bubbly.

What desserts do you freeze for Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments!


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