Thanksgiving is about family, gratitude, togetherness, gathering and of course, turkey. It’s about all the fixings, too: macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, gravy, mashed potatoes. And don’t forget about those tasty leftovers. For those with a sweet tooth, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without its traditional desserts.
From the traditional pumpkin pie to the more modern pumpkin cheesecake making appearances on holiday tables, here is a rundown of some of the most popular Thanksgiving desserts.
Perhaps the most popular Thanksgiving dessert, pumpkin pie is an easy favorite. Traditionally, pumpkin, either freshly roasted and pureed or canned, is mixed with a spice blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and mace. A flaky, buttery crust is often pre-baked, then pie filling, typically mixed with eggs, milk and butter, is poured into the crust and baked until it is browned and set. For a variation, butternut squash can be used in lieu of pumpkin pie filling.
Sweet potato pie
With sweet potato pie, the same pumpkin pie spice blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and mace is used along with the pre-baked crust. Some additions to the filling can add more dimension to this dessert: orange zest, fresh grated ginger and brown sugar being examples. Use organic garnet yams or any other organic variety for the best flavor of sweet potatoes. Also, roast the potatoes versus boiling or microwaving.
Pecan pie isn’t for the faint at heart and for those who are novices to all things sweet. You’ll only need a sliver of this pie, concocted of pecans, corn syrup or molasses, eggs, sugar, vanilla and butter. For the ultimate pecan pie experience, serve with a heaping scoop of ice cream on top. One popular variety of pecan pie is a chocolate one, where dark chocolate is added into the mix with the pecan filling. Also, pecan pie can be made into bite-sized pieces to enjoy as pecan pie bars or squares. For this version, the pie is baked in a sheet pan and cut into small squares.
An all-American favorite, apple pie is a popular Thanksgiving dessert choice. To prepare an apple pie, cut, peel and cook apples on top of the stove. Mix with spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a little vanilla. A few varieties of apple pie include the lattice pie crust, featuring crisscrosses of dough across the pie and Dutch apple pie, with crumbs as the pie topping.
Pumpkin cheesecake is a seasonal spin on a beloved dessert and a perfect item to add to the Thanksgiving dessert melange. There are two approaches to this dessert: mixing in the pumpkin with the cream cheese, eggs and sugar to bake in a browned graham cracker crust or create one layer of pumpkin pie over one layer of cheesecake. Swirls of the pumpkin in the cheesecake can be added for artistic flair.
Cranberries are more than the sauce to go with a heaping serving of turkey and stuffing. They can play a starring role in a season-friendly dessert. When cranberries are cooked, they impart a tangy, slight bitterness to taste, making it a perfect companion to a buttery crust or even a spongy, fluffy cakelike batter as a variation. To prepare this pie, start with fresh or frozen cranberries that have been defrosted in a food processor. Pulse to chop and combine the cranberries with sugar, walnuts, cornstarch, orange zest, salt and nutmeg to a desired consistency, then pour mixture into crust and bake.
A creamy and simple dessert option, the pumpkin roll is a classy version of the well-known cake roll and a popular Thanksgiving dessert. For traditional pumpkin rolls, a pumpkin spice cake is baked in a jelly roll pan, cooled, and then a cream cheese filling is added to the interior of the cake before rolling up and sprinkling the outside with powdered sugar.
Egg custard pie
Simplicity is the name of the game with this custard dessert. Milk is combined with eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla or nutmeg then baked in a pie crust. And ta-da. That’s it. Simple, indulgent and good.