I made 4 desserts that were thanksgiving possibilities and had some friends be my tasters. All desserts were recipes (or variations) on epicurious.com. My findings:
1) Apricot pumpkin layer cake: This was beautiful and the cream cheese icing was really good. The cake lovers like it, and I really liked it the next day. But next to the other rich creamy desserts, it was a little too subtle. It would be good on its own but maybe not for a thanksgiving meal where there were other desserts. (Although I bet it would also make really good cupcakes.)
*SPECIAL THANKS to all who gave me advice about layer cakes earlier. I decided to do nothing special- there was a little doming but it all came out just fine.
2) Brandied pear, fig and prune cobbler. The topping (which is my fail-safe topping) didnt work! It got nice and brown on the top but stayed raw underneath, and then mixed in with the filling when cut, so you got the taste of raw flour. Very strange. Also the filling had much too much cinnamon and you couldnt taste anything but the cinnamon and the pears. A big disappointment.
3) Orange panna cotta with orange/cranberry sauce. This was tasty but the experiment didnt quite work. I used my ramekins for a different dish so instead of making individual portions I made it in a cake pan and ended up with an unappetizing quivering mass. Some liked this, some didnt. Also pretty subtle. If youre looking for a relatively impressive and light thanksgiving dessert, this might work for you. (light as in not filling you up, not as in low-cal)
And the winner is . . .
4) Maple pumpkin pot au crème. These were very rich, pretty sweet, and delicious. Easy to make and should be done a day ahead which is a big plus on Thanksgiving. I will definitely be making this for my Thanksgiving.