Posts Tagged 'Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes'

Ginger Pumpkin Tart

The requirement of last week’s gourmet club meeting was to cook with five ingredients or fewer.  Although I ultimately settled on another recipe for the dinner party, this Ginger Pumpkin Tart from Claire Robinson is super easy and very seasonally appropriate.

To make the crust, I ground two 5.25-ounce packages of Anna’s Ginger Thins in my food processor to yield 2 1/2 cups of crumbs.  (I think any gingersnap-type cookie will do.)  I combined the crumbs with 6 tablespoons of melted butter, transferred the mixture to my 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan, and pressed the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pan with the bottom of a clean measuring cup.  I put the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and baked the crust at 350°F until it darkened a bit (11 minutes).  Next, I set it aside to cool.  (Make sure it gets reasonably close to room temperature before adding the filling; stick it in the refrigerator if you want to speed this up.)

For the filling, I whisked together one 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling!), 3/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk, 2 large egg yolks, and a pinch of salt (salt, pepper, and water are considered “freebie” ingredients) in a medium bowl.  I poured the filling into the cooled crust, returned the pan to the oven (still on a rimmed baking sheet, still at 350°F), and baked the tart until it was set (30 minutes).  I removed the tart from the oven, cooled it to room temperature, and then chilled it for several hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Ginger Pumpkin Tart

For being so simple, this is pretty darn tasty.  It’s essentially like eating pumpkin pie, except with a ginger cookie crust.  Like any good pumpkin dessert, though, it really isn’t complete without a bit of sweetened whipped cream…  I know this takes the recipe over the five-ingredient limit, but it’s essential.

Want to try something a bit more gourmet with homemade pumpkin purée and chocolate?  Check out last year’s Chocolate-Pumpkin Tart post.

TIPS:  Apparently, the canned pumpkin supply is back to good after last year’s shortage.  Yay!  Also, the one “mistake” I made with this recipe was to push too much of the crust up the sides instead of leaving more on the bottom.  That thick crust looks absolutely gorgeous, but it was pretty difficult to cut once I got to the edge.  Sticking a fork through it?  Impossible.  We had to pick up the crust and eat it like a cookie.  (Still delicious!)  Next time, I’ll even things out a bit.

Recipe link: Ginger Pumpkin Tart

Maple-Nut Tart

My dad loves nuts. Pecans are his favorite, but he’ll take them all – pistachios, almonds, walnuts, you name it. I knew we needed to have something in the pecan pie vein on our Thanksgiving table, but I didn’t have 7 1/2 hours to make an actual pecan pie. The Maple Nut Tart recipe from the November 2007 issue of Everyday Food was a great alternative.

I started by making a pie crust using the Our Favorite Pie Crust recipe from the same Everyday Food issue. I combined flour, salt, and sugar with a pastry blender and then cut in a stick of butter. When that resembled course meal, I added 2 tablespoons of ice water and worked the dough until it was crumbly but moist enough to hold together when squeezed. I formed the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick disk, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and let it firm up in the refrigerator for an hour. (I used the time to make the cranberries and stuffing.)

After the hour had passed, I rolled my crust dough into a 12-inch circle on some lightly floured parchment paper. I carefully lowered the crust into a 9-inch removable bottom tart pan (one of my favorite pans) and then used a rolling pin to cut off the excess crust.

Next, I whisked together some eggs, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. I added pure maple syrup (no Mrs. Butterworth’s!), and then stirred in 1 1/2 cups of pecan pieces and 1 1/2 cups of walnut pieces. I put the tart pan with the crust on a pizza pan and poured the nut filling into the crust. Here’s what the tart looked like pre-oven:


I baked it for 55 minutes at 350 F and let it cool for about 90 minutes. Here’s the post-oven result:


The last line of the recipe says “Remove tart from pan before serving.” With a removable bottom nonstick tart pan, this should be the easy part, right? Not so much. I suspected I might have a problem when I saw that some of the filling had seeped out of the bottom of the pan and it was baking into what was essentially maple syrup glue. I’m not sure if seeping was expected (the baking sheet under the pan is usually a clue) or if I had a small hole in my pie crust. Anyway, after 15 stressful minutes of rubbing the bottom of the pan with hot water (to dissolve the “glue”) and prying with a paring knife, I was able to get the tart out in one piece. Whew.

I really liked this tart. It was kind of like pecan pie but without the jelly-like filling. It was really popular with my family members, too. It only took about 3 hours total, which is less than half the time a homemade pecan pie would’ve taken me. I’ll probably make this one again next year, but I’m hoping for much, *much* better luck getting it out of the pan on my second try.

TIPS: Be careful not to stretch the crust dough when you’re placing it in the tart pan. If you stretch it, it will shrink when you bake the tart. If you’re afraid you might have stretched the dough, let it rest in the pan in the refrigerator for 20 – 30 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. This has worked well for me in the past.

Also, I used only 2 tablespoons of water when making my pie crust, though the recipe said you could use up to 4 tablespoons. I may try 3 next time to see if the extra moisture makes the dough a bit easier to handle.

Recipe link: Maple-Nut Tart (The two recipes – Maple-Nut Tart and Our Favorite Pie Crust – are about midway through the page.)

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Thanksgiving is primarily about giving thanks, of course, but it’s also about enjoying certain foods and flavors that only seem “right” this time of year. Pumpkin is at the top of my fall list. I love pumpkin pie, and I make these super yummy Muirhead Pumpkin Pecan Butter bars every year, but I wanted to try something new. I decided to give Pumpkin Cheesecake from the November 2004 issue of Everyday Food a whirl.

Usually, if I make cheesecake, it’s either baked in a hot water bath or made tart-style in a removable-bottom tart tin. This recipe called for baking the cheesecake, turning the oven off, and then leaving the cheesecake in the oven 2 hours before completely cooling it. I was curious to see how the texture would differ from my normal methods.

I started by making the crust. I ground up 10 whole graham crackers in my food processor and then mixed the crumbs in a bowl with some butter and sugar. I pressed that into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and baked it at 350 F for 10 minutes.

Next, I made the filling. The recipe calls for the cream cheese to be very soft and for the eggs to be room temperature, so I let those ingredients sit on the counter for about 90 minutes before starting the cheesecake. I used a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese and some sugar until smooth; that was followed by a little flour. Next, I added pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and salt. Finally, I added the eggs one at a time, mixing until each was incorporated before adding the next.

I put the springform pan with the baked crust on a rimmed baking sheet and poured in the filling. I smoothed the top over a bit and put it in the oven. The crust had baked at 350 F, and the instructions at this point were to reduce the oven heat to 300 F for 45 minutes. When that time had passed, I turned the oven off and let the cheesecake sit inside for 2 hours.

After I took it out, I let the cheesecake sit on a cooling rack for about 2 more hours. When bedtime hit, I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. The next evening, I took it out before our guests arrived, released the sides of the springform pan, and cut it using the dental floss technique from my previous post.

pumpkin_cheesecake_with_floss.jpg pumpkin_cheesecake_cut.jpg

This cheesecake is really good. I’m actually kind of sad that Dr. O and I will be flying home so late the night before Thanksgiving. If I had the evening to cook, I would definitely make this for my family.

In terms of texture, this is lighter than most of the other cheesecakes I’ve made. The water-bath technique seems to make a denser cheesecake, and this has more of a whipped texture. Add a second member of the “whipped family” – whipped cream, of course! – and you’re set. Tasty.


TIPS: Start to finish, the cheesecake takes 8 hours. Actual prep time is only 30 minutes, though, which isn’t bad. I usually plan to make a cheesecake the night before I want to serve it, since cool times do tend to be long.

To prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking, you want to make sure you don’t overmix the batter as you’re adding each new group of ingredients. Mix just until things are combined. Also, make sure you don’t open the oven to peek at the cheesecake during the two hours when the oven is off. It’s tempting, but just turn on the oven light to see how things are doing.

I did struggle a bit with getting the crust out of the pan in one piece. The first piece usually isn’t beautiful, no matter what you’re making, but it took me three good tries to dish one out that was photo-worthy. I think I’ll try a small metal spatula next time instead of a butter knife. (Butter knife? Clearly, the wine had gone to my head.) 🙂

Recipe link: Pumpkin Cheesecake

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