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40 of October’s Best Sweet and Spicy Desserts

Say hello to our most delectable treats for October. These recipes for apple-filled, caramel-topped and spicy desserts will make it feel like fall has arrived.

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Classic Sweet Potato Pie Exps Tohpp19 25953 E03 19 2b 9

Classic Sweet Potato Pie

This simple but special deep-dish pie provides a down-home finish to hearty autumn meals. Pecans and pumpkin pie spices make this a comforting seasonal classic. —Paul Azzone, Shoreham, New York
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Pumpkin Cranberry Cheesecake

One Thanksgiving, I was eating pumpkin pie and decided to have some cranberry sauce with it. I loved the combination so much, I experimented and came up with a two-tone cheesecake that has a ruby-red layer at the bottom. —John Abraham, Boca Raton, Florida
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Cream-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes

Here's a charming use for pumpkin. Bursting with flavor and plenty of eye-catching appeal, these sweet and spicy filled cupcakes are bound to dazzle your family any time of the year. —Ali Johnson, Petersburg, Pennsylvania
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Caramel-Apple Skillet Buckle

My grandma used to bake a version of this for me when I was a little girl. She would make it using fresh apples from her tree in the backyard. I've adapted her recipe because I love the combination of apples, pecans and caramel. —Emily Hobbs, Springfield, Missouri
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Cran Apple Pecan Crisp Exps Ghtaj17 24426 C06 22 4b 1

Cran-Apple Pecan Crisp

Even folks who claim not to like cranberries rave about this dish. I cherish the recipe from my mother, who inspired my love of cooking. —Debbie Daly, Florence, Kentucky
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Fudgy Peanut Butter Cake

I clipped this easy peanut butter cake recipe from a newspaper years ago. The house smells fantastic while it's slow cooking. My husband and son enjoy the cake with ice cream and nuts on top. —Bonnie Evans, Norcross, Georgia
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Walnut Pumpkin Cake Roll

This is one of my family's favorite dessert recipes, especially for holiday gatherings. —Mary Gecha, Center Rutland, Vermont
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Apple-Pumpkin Upside-Down Cake

We love the combination of classic fall fruits in this cake. I bake the apples on the bottom to keep them plump and moist, then flip the cake so they're on top. This is best served warm with vanilla ice cream, but we enjoy digging in any time of day. —Christina Yahraes, San Francisco, California
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Pumpkin Cheesecake

When I was young we produced several ingredients for this pumpkin cheesecake on the farm. We raised pumpkins in our large vegetable garden, and made homemade butter and lots of sour cream using milk from our dairy herd. —Evonne Wurmnest, Normal, Illinois
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Magic Macaroons

Peanut butter, candy corn and macaroons are three of my favorite things, so I combine them all to make one magical sweet that's perfect for Halloween. —Jeanette Nelson, Bridgeport, West Virginia
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Chocolate Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Icing

Mariann James of Ferguson, Missouri created a sweet and salty favorite with her original recipe for chocolate spice cake with caramel icing. The spicy chocolate cinnamon cane sugar was a perfect addition to her unique cake. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Pumpkin Chip Cream Pie

This creamy pie is perfect for any autumn celebration. A store-bought graham cracker crust makes it such a cinch to whip up. —Maria Regakis, Somerville, Massachusetts
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Chocolate Candy Corn Cupcakes

My oldest son asks me to make these cupcakes every year for his class Halloween party. I always get compliments about how tasty and cute these treats are. —Nicole Clayton, Prescott, Arizona
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Cranberry-Carrot Layer Cake

This moist cake smothered with rich cream cheese frosting makes any dinner festive. Every autumn, I go to a cranberry festival in Wisconsin and load up on fresh cranberries to freeze for year-round cooking. —Nellie Runne, Rockford, Illinois
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Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

I needed a new holiday cookie, so I tweaked an old 4-H recipe. This updated oatmeal cookie with cranberries and nuts is my family’s all-time favorite. —Tammy Hoggatt, Omaha, Nebraska
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Pecan Pumpkin Dessert

I always fix this recipe for Thanksgiving. It was given to me by a friend and I've shared it with many others. —Sue Williams, Mt. Holly, North Carolina
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Hot Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Hot chocolate is my go-to winter indulgence. To go with it, I like this moist pumpkin cake dusted with cocoa for an extra chocolate boost. —Colleen Delawder, Herndon, Virginia
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Maple-Orange Pear Crisp

In fall, my family loves to kick back after dinner and dig into big bowls of this spiced crisp. It isn't too sweet, but still satisfies a sweet tooth. —Noreen McCormick, Cromwell, Connecticut
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Easy Pecan Pie Bars

I'm always searching for fast and easy recipes to take to the teachers lounge. The staff goes nuts for these shortcut pecan pie bars. —Kathro Yoder, Defiance, Ohio
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Contest-Winning Chocolate Potato Cake

I won grand champion honors in a potato festival baking contest with this moist chocolate cake. The icing recipe can be doubled for real sweet tooths. A great-grandma, I've spent over 85 years on the farm.
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Maple Pecan Tarts

I absolutely love pecans. I combine them with maple and vanilla to create the ultimate tart, made even richer with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. —Redawna Kalynchuk, Barrhead, Alberta
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Spiced Pumpkin Tiramisu

I added pumpkin and subtracted some of the coffee flavor in a tiramisu I developed for a special holiday dinner. A new Christmas tradition was born! —Heather Clary, Downingtown, Pennsylvania
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Cranberry Bog Bars Exps Sdon18 28176 B06 12 2b 8

Cranberry Bog Bars

Sweet and chewy, these fun bars combine the flavors of oats, cranberries, brown sugar and pecans. I like to sprinkle the squares with confectioners’ sugar before serving. —Sally Wakefield, Gans, Pennsylvania
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Rustic Caramel Apple Tart Exps Tgcbbz17 38374 B04 28 3b 7

Rustic Caramel Apple Tart

Like an apple pie without the pan, this scrumptious tart has a crispy crust that cuts nicely and a yummy caramel topping. —Betty Fulks, Onia, Arkansas
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Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

The fantastic flavor from this pie comes from butterscotch pudding and canned pumpkin, which work surprisingly well together. Kids will go wild over the cream cheese layer! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Chai Cupcakes

You'll get a double dose of the spicy blend that's frequently used to flavor tea in these moist cakes. Both the cupcake and frosting use the blend, which combines some of the best flavors of the season. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Honey Caramel Apples

When caramel apple season arrives, we roll apples in salted pecans and drizzle them with homemade fudge. For a different crunch factor, use honey-roasted peanuts. —Cori Cooper, Flagstaff, Arizona
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Mexican Chocolate Walnut-Cherry Biscotti

I love to combine flavors and spices from different cultures. These cookies have ground cinnamon in them, which is a classic flavor in Mexican chocolate. They are very crunchy and are loaded with maraschino cherries and toasted walnuts. —Nancy C. Evans, Phoenix, Arizona
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Apple Cornbread Crisp

With its hearty ingredients and quick prep time, this warm apple crisp makes a smart dessert for any fall night. It reminds me of the recipe my grandmother would serve after our big family seafood dinners. It's absolutely wonderful topped with ice cream. —Julie Peterson, Crofton, Maryland
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Cinnamon-Spice Brownies

Gail Mehle of Rock Springs, Wyoming submitted the original recipe for these brownies with a secret ingredient: cinnamon. The spicy chocolate cinnamon cane sugar was a perfect fit for her recipe, adding just a hint of heat. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Easy Mini Caramel Apple Cheesecakes

Cheesecake is the ultimate comfort food, but a big slice can be too rich. These bite-sized cheesecakes topped with apples and creamy caramel dazzle the senses. —Brandie Cranshaw, Rapid City, South Dakota
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Apple-Almond Bake

When my children were young, they loved this apple dessert—and they still do 45 years later! I like it served plain at room temperature, but it's hard to resist when served warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. —Barbara Estabrook, Rhinelander, Wisconsin
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Chocolate Maple Bars

Chocolate Maple Bars

My family runs a maple syrup operation, and I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate maple syrup into my cooking and baking. These bars are delicious! —Cathy Schumacher, Alto, Michigan
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Ghost Shortbread Cookies

Pac-Man was my favorite video game when I was growing up. For a party, I decided to get creative and shape my go-to sugar cookies into the ghosts from the game. —Jamie S, Regina, Saskatchewan
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Cinnamon-Spiced Pumpkin Flan

I love pumpkin and decided to add it to a traditional recipe for flan. It's an interesting change of pace from the usual holiday pie. —Alisha Rodrigues, Tetonia, Idaho
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Autumn Pumpkin Cupcakes

These little pumpkin cupcakes are capped with cream cheese frosting and drizzled with a homemade salted caramel sauce. I like to make the caramel sauce in advance and keep it in the fridge till dessert. —Wendy Rusch, Trego, Wisconsin
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Frosted Carrot Cake Cookies

I took my favorite carrot cake recipe and slightly tweaked it to make cookies. Just like the cake, the yummy bites are filled with shredded carrot, pineapple and raisins—and topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting. —Lawrence Earl, Sumner, Michigan
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Brandied Apricot Tart

Canned apricots make this golden, buttery tart a wonderful option any time of year. I brush them with preserves and brandy, then sprinkle on almonds for a bit of crunch. —Johnna Johnson, Scottsdale, Arizona
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Honey Pear Cheesecake

We grow pear trees, so I’m always dabbling in pear desserts. In this cheesecake, I sometimes add ¼ cup crystalized ginger for zing. —Nancy Zimmerman, Cape May Court House, New Jersey
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Spiced Cappuccino Kiss Cookies Exps Sdon17 160753 B06 28 1b 3

Spiced Cappuccino Kiss Cookies

This recipe combines two of my favorite flavors: coffee and cinnamon. You can always find them on my holiday treat trays. —Cynthia Messenger, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.

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