From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
SPICE CAKE

Makes: 1 (8-in.) cake Hands-on time: 1 hr. 25 min. Total time: 3 hrs. 10 min.

1 (16.5-oz.) pkg. white cake mix

1 (16-oz.) container sour cream

¼ cup butter, melted

2 large eggs

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Caramelized Pears

Vanilla Buttercream

1. Preheat oven to 350. Beat together first 9 ingredients at low speed just until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes or until batter is smooth, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 8-in. round cake pans.

2. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely.

3. Spoon half of Caramelized Pears over one cake layer. Add second cake layer, top with remaining pears and then last cake layer. Frost cake with Vanilla Buttercream.



CARAMELIZED PEARS

Melt 1/3 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 5 firm, ripe pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes until just beginning to brown. Stir in 1 tbsp. sugar and 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice; cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until pears are tender. Remove from heat; cool completely.



VANILLA BUTTERCREAM

Beat 6 oz. softened cream cheese and ¾ cup softened butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add 6 cups powdered sugar, 2 tsp. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla and ¼ tsp. salt beating at low speed just until blended. Increase speed to medium; beat until blended and smooth.



RUSTIC TART

Makes: 8 to 10 servings Hands-on time: 45 min. Total time: 2 hrs. 15 min.

2 Golden Delicious apples peeled, cored and sliced ½-in. thick

2 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and sliced ½-in. thick

1 cup fresh cranberries

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. orange zest

2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 (14.1-oz.) pkg. refrigerated pie crusts

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp. coarse sanding sugar

1 tbsp. apricot preserves

1 tsp. water

1. Combine apples and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Let stand 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour.

2. Preheat oven to 375. Stack pie crusts on parchment paper. Roll into a 14×12-in. rectangle. Place crust and parchment paper on baking sheet. Using a slotted spoon, mound fruit mixture onto center of crust, leaving a 3-in. border. Drizzle fruit with remaining juices. Fold crust border toward center, pleating and pressing to seal. Brush crust with egg; sprinkle with sanding sugar.

3. Bake on lowest oven rack 50 to 55 minutes or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden. Cool on baking sheet on a wire rack 30 minutes. Microwave preserves and water in a small microwave-safe bowl on high 30 seconds or until bubbly. Brush mixture over apples. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.



CHOCOLATE PIE

Makes: 1 (9-in.) pie Hands-on time: 35 min. Total time: 8 hrs. 35 min.

2/3 cup milk

¾ cup semisweet chocolate morsels

¼ cup cold water

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

3 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 tbsp. butter

1 (6-oz.) ready-made chocolate crumb pie crust

Bourbon Whipped Cream

Candied Pecans, chopped

1. Heat milk in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble around edges (do not boil). Remove from heat; whisk in chocolate morsels until melted. Cool slightly.

2. Dissolve cornstarch in cold water.

3. Whisk cornstarch mixture, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and vanilla into chocolate mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute or until mixture thickens and is smooth. (Do not overcook.)

4. Remove from heat; whisk in butter. Spoon mixture into pie crust. Cover and chill at least 8 hours. Serve with Bourbon Whipped Cream and Candied Pecans.



BOURBON WHIPPED CREAM

Beat 1 cup whipping cream at high speed until foamy; gradually add ¼ cup powdered sugar and 1½ tbsp. bourbon, beating until soft peaks form.



CANDIED PECANS

Preheat oven to 325. Mix 1 cup pecan halves and ¼ cup pure maple syrup in a small bowl; spread on a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes; stir and bake 5 additional minutes or until pecans crystallize. Transfer pecans on foil to a wire rack; cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.