Delightful Fall Foods Without Pumpkin | Dessert Recipes |
Cranberry spice cake

In 1796, Amelia Simmons published the first known American cookbook, American Cookery, or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards, and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to plain cake: Adapted to this country, and all grades of life. 

Among its pages — which contain the first-known recipe for cornmeal Johnny Cake or turkey with cranberries — American Cookery includes a few “receipts” to flavor the humble but bland “pompkin.” One short entry reads, “One quart of milk, 1 pint pompkin, 4 eggs, molasses, allspice and ginger in a crust, bake 1 hour.” 

More than two centuries later, “pumpkin spice” is an unstoppable, Ugg-clad cultural juggernaut, returning each fall to fuel morning routines as much as it does bad stand-up comedy, the banderole of the “basic.” Far beyond coffees and cake, pumpkin spice — despite containing no pumpkin — flavors everything from alcohol to zucchini bread.

This year, take a break from PSL season with these (non-pumpkin) flavors of fall!


Perfect for cold, cozy mornings at home — working or otherwise — this delicious dessert is just as good with a cup of coffee as it is on its own. Flavored with the same mélange you’ll find in pumpkin-spice anything, this sweet and spicy coffee cake is topped with a crunchy brown sugar crumble with a nutty nod to the Mesilla Valley, then drizzled with a chai spice icing.

1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
2 eggs
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
Pecans (optional)

Crumble topping
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup turbinado sugar
½ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon espresso powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon allspice
⅛ teaspoon cloves
Chopped pecans (optional)

¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 – 2 tablespoons whole milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-by-9-inch cake pan (or equivalent) with butter or cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl, add whole milk and espresso powder, then mix until combined. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat softened butter and granulated sugar until combined and fluffy — about 3 minutes — then add eggs one at a time and vanilla extract. Keep beating until fluffy. 

4. In a medium bowl, add flour, chai spices, and baking powder, and whisk to combine.

5. Slowly add to the mixture the dry ingredients from the medium bowl and the espresso/milk from the small bowl, a little of each at a time. 

6. In a separate bowl — you can use the dry ingredients bowl, now empty — add brown sugar, turbinado sugar, flour, espresso powder, and spices, mix, then add 1 stick of melted butter. Mix together. 

7. Pour the cake mixture into the pan, spread evenly and top with the crumble mixture, swirling gently on top. 

8. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan all the way, then move to a wire rack.

9. For the icing, mix together powdered sugar and chai spices with milk or cream to your desired consistency, then drizzle atop the cooled cake.

Recipe courtesy of Haylie Abele — for more great recipes, follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and more @ourbalancedbowl and visit her blog, Our Balanced Bowl, at


In 1989, the biscochito became the official cookie for the state of New Mexico. This traditional holiday cookie is a combination of anise and cinnamon with a hint of brandy. This recipe is courtesy of food consultant, blogger, NMSU professor, and cookbook author Kelley Coffeen. 

Makes 36 cookies 

Preheat oven to 350 F
1-inch cookie cutters any shape
Baking sheets, greased 

3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup lard
1½ cups granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1 egg
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together lard, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and anise until fluffy. Continue mixing and add egg. Beat until well blended, about 2 minutes, scraping the sides. 

2. Reduce speed on mixer to low and beat in flour mixture and brandy until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, for at least 1 hour or for up to 3 hours. 

3. In a small bowl, combine remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1-inch cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes, re-rolling scraps. Place on prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated oven until firm and slightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 2 to 4 minutes. Dip while warm into cinnamon mixture and place on wire rack to cool completely. 

Tips: Use a star- or flower-shaped cookie cutter. However, if you are pressed for time, roll dough into 1-inch balls, place on baking sheets, and press to 1/4-inch thickness. Bake as directed. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Variations: For a buttery flavor, substitute 1 cup softened butter for the lard. You may also substitute sweet red wine for brandy. Reduce the anise seed for a milder flavor.  


After a long day of baking or decorating, you can cool off and warm up with this picante potable. Grab a handful of leftover cranberries and a few cocktail glasses for a round of cranberry jalapeño margaritas. With an eye-catching garnish of bold reds and verdant greens perfect for the holidays, this is a sweet, spicy, tangy, tart twist on an essential Borderlands cocktail. 

¼ cup cranberries, plus more for garnish
4 teaspoons sugar
4 thin slices of jalapeño, plus more for garnish
6 ounces silver tequila
2 ounces orange liqueur
2 ounces fresh lime juice

Divide cranberries, sugar, and 3 – 4 jalapeño slices each between four glasses, then muddle. Fill glasses with ice. In a shaker filled with ice, shake tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. Strain into glasses, stir, garnish, and enjoy. 


With tart bursts of cranberry and a hint of zesty orange balancing this moist, sweet cake loaded with holidays spices — cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and cardamom — this cranberry spice cake doesn’t need a thing, but with rosemary plentiful in the Southwest, I enhanced a simple vanilla icing with the minty-lemon flavor of fresh rosemary. 

3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
1½ tablespoons fresh orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon cardamom
12 ounces fresh cranberries

Gluten-free: Substitute 1¼ cup brown rice flour, ½ cup potato starch, ¼ cup tapioca starch, and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum in place of the flour.

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 

2. Beat eggs, sugar, and spices until slightly thick and light brown, 5 – 7 minutes; it should seem to almost double in size, and the mixture should ribbon when you remove the beaters from the bowl. Don’t skip this step; the eggs are doing all the leavening in this recipe.

3. Add the butter, vanilla, and orange zest, then mix for 2 more minutes.

4. Stir in the flour until just combined.

5. Add cranberries and mix through.

6. Spread into a buttered, 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Bake 44 – 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

7. Drizzle with icing.

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted (sift after measuring)
2 – 3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream, rosemary, and vanilla extract together. Add another tablespoon of milk or heavy cream to thin out if necessary. For thicker icing, add a little more confectioners’ sugar. Taste, and add a pinch of salt if desired.

MARGARITA PIE Margarita pie and biscochitos

Break from traditional baking this holiday season by introducing a favorite border flavor. Refreshing, simple flavors of a margarita infused into a dessert are exceptional. This margarita pie is light and luscious and quick to make! Kelley also shared this recipe with us.

Makes 6 servings

Preheat oven to 350 F.

2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/3 cup liquid margarita mix (see tip)
3 drops green food coloring
1 9-inch store-bought vanilla-flavored cookie crumb crust
1 cup whipping (35%) cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 lime, thinly sliced

1. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs and egg yolks until thick and pale, for 2 minutes. Continue mixing and add lime juice, condensed milk, margarita mix, and food coloring and beat for 2 to 3 minutes. 

2. Pour into pie shell and bake in preheated oven until center is firm, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until chilled for at least 1 hour or for up to 4 hours. 

3. Just before serving, in a medium chilled bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve slices of pie on individual plates topped with whipped cream and garnished with lime slices.

Tip: Use a high-quality prepared liquid margarita mix with a medium sweet-sour balance. 

Variation: Substitute a 9-inch store-bought graham cracker-flavored crumb crust for the vanilla-flavored crumb crust. 

Written and photography by Zak Hansen • Additional photography courtesy Kelley Coffeen
Originally published in Neighbors magazine

This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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