No one will judge you if the only dish you make for Thanksgiving this year is a bourbon pecan pie.
Scaled-down holiday dinners mean that many cooks might stick to just one dessert rather than a whole dessert table, so choose wisely. Ask whomever you are eating with what their must-have dessert is, or try one of these new recipes to mix things up.
Maybe you’ve never liked pumpkin pie and decide to make a pomegranate ice cream instead. Or maybe you’re craving a salty-sweet-crunchy dessert like these pumpkin cheesecake bars. Sweet potato casserole fans will love this tahini-enriched version that could be served as a side dish for the main dinner or a dessert. Or breakfast the next day.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Tahini Fluff
Sweet potato casserole is a Thanksgiving nonnegotiable. I wouldn’t dare lobby to replace it. What I would do, though, is figure out how to make it without clinging to that Jet-Puffed marshmallow raft. The solution: Tahini Fluff. It’s reminiscent of halva or nougat, and when baked at a high temperature for just a few minutes, it swells slightly and develops a thin, crisp, toasty crust with a soft, gooey layer beneath. Miso paste gives the yams a savory skew. Enriched with crème fraîche and vanilla-infused melted butter, the Fanta-colored mash is good enough to eat on its own. If you spread it into the baking dish and leave it in the fridge overnight, you can complete the recipe while you watch the Macy’s parade. (The parade is happening with no in-person audience and along a shorter route and will air from 9 a.m. to noon on NBC.)
— Charlotte Druckman
4 large or 5 medium red-skinned sweet potatoes or yams
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons crème fraîche (can substitute sour cream)
1/4 cup white miso paste
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 (7 1/2-ounce) jar marshmallow spread
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, 1 3/4 to 2 hours; the skin will crisp up and pull away from the mushy-soft flesh. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and let them cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Turn off the heat and add the scraped seeds from the split vanilla bean, swirling to incorporate. Let the mixture sit on the stove for 30 minutes to allow the vanilla flavor to permeate the butter.
In a small bowl, stir together the crème fraîche (or sour cream) and miso paste.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, split them in half and peel the skin away from the flesh, discarding it. Transfer the flesh to a large bowl and mash it until smooth; you should have about 5 cups mashed sweet potato. Stir in the vanilla-infused butter, the crème fraîche-miso mixture and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Taste and adjust for salt as needed.
Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until heated through and the flavors have developed. Remove the baking dish from the oven and increase the temperature to 475 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine the marshmallow spread, tahini and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold together to combine. Spread the mixture on top of the sweet potatoes. Bake until the tahini fluff has a lightly browned, toasted finish, about 7 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 6 to 8.
— From "Kitchen Remix: 75 Recipes for Making the Most of Your Ingredients: A Cookbook" by Charlotte Druckman (Clarkson Potter, $28)
Salted Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Most pumpkin pie recipes call for evaporated milk, an ingredient that used to be more common in baked goods but is often only used in pumpkin pie. You can use sweetened condensed milk in a pinch — and it will have all the sugar your pie will need — or you could take a different approach and make these salted pumpkin cheesecake bars with a graham cracker-pretzel crust. The filling requires a can of pumpkin, a can of sweetened condensed milk, eggs, cream cheese and the spices. There’s no caramel in the recipe, but the sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese mixture will taste like salted caramel when you’re done.
— Addie Broyles
For the crust:
Non-stick cooking spray
1 cup salted mini pretzels, broken into pieces, divided
3 whole graham crackers
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoon butter, melted
For the filling:
2 large eggs
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 (8-ounce) package light cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the topping:
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges. Spray with no-stick cooking spray. Pulverize 3/4 cup mini pretzels, graham crackers, 1/4 cup brown sugar and cinnamon into a ne crumb in food processor. Transfer to medium bowl and stir in butter. Mix well. Press evenly in bottom of prepared pan.
To make the filling, mix eggs and 1/4 cup brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer. Add sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin, cream cheese, salt, cloves and nutmeg. Mix until smooth; pour on top of crust. Top with remaining 1/4 cup pretzel pieces, peanuts and chocolate chips. Cover pan with foil. Bake 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes until lling is set. Refrigerate at least 2 1/2 hours. Remove from pan using foil. Remove foil and cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.
— From Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
Pomegranate Pride Ice Cream
This luscious, tangy ice cream is so unique and delicious it deserves its name. Evaporating the water in bottled pomegranate juice is the secret to making the ice cream silky smooth, with no ice crystals and no need for a stabilizer to keep it that way. It maintains its creamy, scoopable texture perfectly in the freezer for at least a week — I’ve never managed to keep it longer. Pama pomegranate liqueur, or additional reduced pomegranate syrup (see scoops), is a glorious topping.
— Rose Levy Beranbaum
For the ice cream base:
2 1/2 cups bottled pomegranate juice, preferably POM
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 1/4 cup heavy cream, divided
6 (to 9) large egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained
6 drops red liquid food color
3 tablespoons pomegranate arils (optional)
1/2 cup Pama pomegranate liqueur
Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium bowl.
In a medium saucepan, preferably nonstick, boil the pomegranate juice over medium heat, stirring often with a silicone spatula, until it is reduced to about 1/4 its original volume, just more than 1/2 cup.
Cut the butter into four pieces and stir it in until melted. Stir in the sugar, salt and ¾ cup cream. Allow the mixture to cool until just barely warm or room temperature. Then stir in the egg yolks.
Heat the mixture on medium-low, stirring constantly, until slightly thicker than heavy cream. When a finger is run across the back of the spatula, it will leave a well-defined track. An instant-read thermometer should read 170 to 180 degrees.
Immediately pour the mixture into the strainer, scraping up the thickened mixture that has settled on the bottom of the pan. Press it through the strainer and scrape any mixture clinging to the underside into the bowl.
Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups cream and then the lemon juice and food color, if desired, to achieve a pale pink color. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours or until no warmer than 43 degrees. (Alternatively, cool in an ice water bath.) Set a covered storage container in the freezer.
Churn the pomegranate custard in a prechilled ice cream maker. Transfer the ice cream to the chilled container. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the ice cream, cover the container and allow the ice cream to firm in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.
Top with a sprinkling of pomegranate arils and/or a drizzle of pomegranate liqueur, if desired. Store in the freezer in a covered container.
— From "Rose's Ice Cream Bliss" by Rose Levy Beranbaum (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25)
Easy Apple Tart
Using puff pastry for the crust for this apple tart means it comes together quick and easy, with just a rolling pin, paring knife and cookie sheet. If you don't like fig jam, substitute peach or apricot or simply brush the apples with honey. I also sprinkled a little sanding sugar on top for a bit of glitz.
— Gretchen McKay
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a standard 17.3-ounce package), thawed
All-purpose flour, for dusting work surface
3 or 4 tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Empire
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fig jam
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Open pastry sheet and remove paper. Fold sheet back up. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry sheet (still folded) to an 8-inch-by-14-inch rectangle. Don't worry if it's not perfect, as it's supposed to be rustic. If you like, trim the edges with a sharp knife, bench scraper or pizza cutter. Transfer to a baking sheet and place in freezer while you prepare apples.
Peel, core and slice apples 1/4-inch thick. Toss in a large bowl with sugars.
Brush pastry with egg wash, being careful to avoid the edges. Pile apples in the middle, leaving about a 1-inch border of crust. Dot apples with butter.
Bake until pastry is golden and apples are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Combine jelly or jam with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, and microwave until melted. Brush apples with glaze.
The tart can be served warm or at room temperature, with a scoop of ice cream.
— Gretchen McKay
Bourbon-Bitters Pecan Bars
I am not allowed to attend any Thanksgiving celebration without bringing my Bourbon Pecan Pie, but sometimes an entire pie seems like too much of a dessert commitment, so I created these cookie bars to satisfy pecan pie cravings. The floral, bitter notes of the angostura bitters complement the brown sugar, pecans and bourbon in these bars. These are delicious eaten on their own, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of fresh whipped cream is a welcome addition.
— Jane Soudah
1 1/4 cups butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon angostura bitters
1 1/3 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 cups chopped pecans
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and granulated sugar. Add the egg yolk and mix well. Add the flour and salt, and mix until well combined.
Pat the crust evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the entire crust with the tines of a fork. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until the crust is a light golden brown.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, bitters and corn syrup. Add the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Add the flour and salt, and whisk until completely combined. Fold the chopped pecans into the batter. Pour over the warm crust and bake for 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes until the filling is golden brown and puffed. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Makes 24 squares.
— From "Delightful Desserts: The Secrets to Achieving Incredible Flavor in Your Sweet Treats" by Jane Soudah (Page Street Publishing, $19.99)