What Gail Simmons Makes Every Thanksgiving Instead Of Pumpkin Pie - Exclusive

To some, Thanksgiving doesn't feel complete without classics like pumpkin and apple pie to round out the meal. But for someone as culinary-minded as Gail Simmons, it's more fun to think outside tradition. "I'm always looking for ways to do something a little different," Simmons told Tasting Table. For instance, she noted, "I love using pears instead of apples when I can, because I love a pear more than anything." With that in mind, it was no surprise when Simmons declared that she's "not a huge pumpkin pie person."

Simmons prefers to think a little more outside the box when it comes to classic fall flavors. She's also always looking for ways to make holiday baking personal and more of a joy than a chore. During her exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Simmons shared her point of view on pie making for the holidays and described the dessert that you'll find on her Thanksgiving table every year. Her favorite pie is slightly nontraditional, but it pays tasty homage to Simmons' Canadian heritage, and it makes the perfect addition to any fall-themed menu.

Gail Simmons brings her Canadian roots to her Thanksgiving table

No matter what recipe you're whipping up, warm, freshly baked pies go hand in hand with the holiday season. But there's no doubt that they can be a labor of love. That's why Gail Simmons said she's "a bit of an untraditional pie maker," especially when it comes to the crusts. "I don't do a lot of traditional pie dough. I love making a shortbread crust, sometimes I make a hazelnut crust, or other simple crusts that you can make and press in and bake as opposed to having to roll out dough, and worry about the lattice top."

We're all about keeping things simple yet delicious in the kitchen, especially around the holidays. Simmons' easy 5-step recipe for her favorite holiday pie definitely fits that definition. "I make a maple sugar tart almost every Thanksgiving instead of a [pumpkin pie]," said Simmons. "Coming from Canada ... Maple is an ingredient that, at this time of year when the weather gets cooler, I start to incorporate it into every dessert," she added.

The recipe, properly called Toasted Hazelnut Tarte au Sucre with Candied Hazelnuts, comes from her 2017 cookbook, "Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating." Simmons described the sweet, nutty dessert as reminiscent of "a pecan pie without the pecans ... caramelized, crystallized, delicious maple custard set in a tart, and it's one of the most delicious desserts in the world."

The simple crust is made from ground-up hazelnuts — along with some flour, butter, and salt — and pressed into a tart pan and frozen until ready. The filling features maple sugar as the star ingredient along with other rich additions, including brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream. This tart is easy, delicious, and screams fall — just get yourself a cozy blanket and a roaring fireplace and give thanks with every bite.

Find this recipe and more in Simmons' cookbook, "Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating." For the latest from Gail Simmons, follow her on Instagram. Plus, find other recipes and more on her website.