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Make-ahead Thanksgiving desserts: Cranberry crumble, apple loaf cake and more

Elena Besser shares a batch of impressive treats you can prep well in advance of the holiday.
/ Source: TODAY

We've got enough to do before the big feast on Thanksgiving. That's why we're getting the baking done early (really early) with Elena Besser's brilliant and lavish make-ahead Thanksgiving desserts.

The best part is that these aren't the type of make-ahead recipes you have to prep the night before the big day. These are recipes to make this week! Yes, these delicious and restaurant-worthy desserts that will leave guests speechless can actually be tackled up to two weeks in advance, frozen and defrosted come Thanksgiving. Because, if anyone's hosted, they already know the day before will be chock-full of cleaning, decorating and other to-dos (like creating a seating chart to prevent mid-meal squabbles).

Take some of the stress out of planning what will go in the oven when and put these make-ahead recipes on the menu for a seamless and sensational end to your holiday meal. To make holiday prep even easier, the below recipes are shoppable via Walmart, so you can order the ingredients for pickup or delivery.

Elena Besser's make-ahead Thanksgiving desserts

In this fabulous, make-far-ahead recipe, apples are folded into a traditional loaf cake batter and swirled together with warming fall spices. The cake is baked and can be cooled, tightly wrapped and frozen as an easy option that will keep for weeks ahead of Thanksgiving or whenever you need it (hello, hostess gifts!). The frosting can also be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 14 days. What makes this cake extra special is that before serving, each slice gets warmed in the skillet with melted butter, then frosted and topped with flaky salt. Heaven!

This recipe is a fantastic take on two classic desserts: pumpkin pie and cheesecake. Its texture is creamy and light while still providing a cozy-spiced flavor that is perfect for fall. A crust made with gingersnaps adds a zingy sweetness that gets enhanced by the crunchy pecan and pumpkin seed brittle topping. Finished with a maple whipped cream, it's exquisite! Preparing the cheesecake in individual portions adds elegance that will make your Thanksgiving dessert quite the showstopper, plus, save time in the kitchen.

A crumble is a classic dish that is easy to whip together and yet still gives a wow-factor. This recipe celebrates fall produce and freezes beautifully so you can make it far in advance on a free day and then reheat it in the oven before serving. This is especially helpful on Thanksgiving when there's lots to do in the kitchen. Crumble is my go-to recipe when I’m in a pinch but I want to please my guests!

Wondering what else to cook this week? Try these!

Growing up, my dad always made breakfast for us on the weekends and his specialty was French toast. I love this recipe because it's a great way to use bread that is going stale and also make a fabulous breakfast dish that can be prepped the night before and finished in the oven in the morning. I love the addition of warming spices in this recipe, plus the flambé moment is a really fun entertaining trick for a crowd.

When my parents were out of town or went out to dinner when I was younger, my siblings and I would treat ourselves to frozen chicken pot pies ... and we absolutely loved them! There is nothing quite like the comforting warmth of a creamy chicken pot pie. It is a feel-good dish that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside. This slightly more grown-up version is all about celebrating spring since it's packed with some of my favorite green veggies.