By John Overton
What do you think of when you think Thanksgiving? Ninety-nine and forty-four one-hundredths percent will say the two main things are roast turkey and pumpkin pie.
We are not talking turkey this time.
The following recipes are ways to add some spice to your desserts for Thanksgiving. These are not your mother's pumpkin pie.
Many people have pumpkin pie only for Thanksgiving. If any tradition deserves a fresh approach, it's this one. The following is a variation from Cook's Illustrated. Then, I have also included three recipes that are not pies, but a variation on the pumpkin taste.
This recipe pumps up the flavor by adding some interesting ingredients: maple syrup, fresh ginger and candied yams.
While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together. Combine pumpkin, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy saucepan, bring to simmer of medium heat, 5-7 minutes. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly and mashing yams against the sides of pan, until think and shiny, 10-15 min.
Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through. Re-whisk mixture and transfer to warm pre-baked pie shell. Return pie to oven and bake for10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake until edges of pie are set; a thermometer inserted into center will register 175 degrees (about 20-35 minutes)
Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar in food processor for 3 seconds. Add butter and shortening and process until dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps (about 10 seconds). Dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour.
Scrape bowl with spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4-6 quick pulses. Put into bowl.
Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture and fold to mix, pressing down on dough until it is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4 inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Adjust the oven rack to lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat oven to 400˚F.
Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out with 1/4 cup flour. Put into pie plate and refrigerate another 15 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake for 15 minutes on the baking sheet. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate and bake 5-10 minutes.
This can be made 2 days ahead in a nine-inch spring form pan, wrapped with foil to avoid dripping.
Grind gingersnaps and sugar finely in processor. Add butter. Press onto bottom of pan and up 1 inch of sides. Freeze 15 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 350 deg. Boil Frangelico until reduced to 1/4 cup: about 3 min. Cool. Blend in cream cheese and next 8 ingredients until smooth, stopping once to scrape the sides.
Pour the filling over the crust. Bake until edges of cake begin to brown, about 1 hour, center will not be firm. Keep oven on.
Whisk together sour cream sugar, and 3 tbsp Frangelico.
Pour over hot cake, starting at edges. Spread evenly. Continue baking for 10 minutes. Loosen edges with knife and place hot cheesecake directly into refrigerator.
Toast the nuts and press them lightly into the top around the edges of cake. Let stand at room temperature for 30 min. before serving.
This is not baked, but cooked on the stove and the refrigerated. This then is a soft, creamy, pudding-like texture. Should be prepared a day before, can be two days ahead.
Mix the first four ingredients in a small bowl.
Using the back of a knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into medium saucepan; add bean. Add cream and bring to boil. Remove and cover.
Whisk egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in medium bowl to blend. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) cook until thermometer inserted into mixture is 165˚F, whishing constantly, about 10 minutes. Slowly add cream mixture to yolk mixture and cook until thickened slightly, whisking frequently for about 20 min. Then whisk in pumpkin mixture. Strain through fine strainer, divide into 8 custard cups or ramekins. Refrigerate.
Before serving, preheat broiler. Place cups on baking sheet; sprinkle with 1/2 tsp sugar over top of each. Broil until top is golden and caramelized, turning to avoid burning, about 2 minutes. Can also be refrigerated after being caramelized for up to 6 hours.
Chocolate and pumpkin make a fantastic pair, with flavors that go together.
Start with a chocolate crust in your tart pan that is baked for 15 min. at 350˚F.
In a mixer bowl combine first 6 ingredients; add butter and mix on low until small pea size. Add egg until it forms a dough.
Roll dough on floured surface, until just thicker than 1/8 inch. Put in 10" tart pan. Press on to bottom and up the sides. Lightly prick bottom of dough with a fork.
After baking, sprinkle chocolate pieces over bottom and smooth with spatula.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a medium bowl, whisk all the ingredients, except the chocolate. Pass mixture through a fine sieve, discard solids. Pour into crust. Baking about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.
Melt chocolate and drizzle with a teaspoon, forming decorative stripes. Refrigerate until well set, at least 1 hour or up to a day.
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