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Nov 11, 2004 06:21 PM

Seeking inspiration for fancy Thanksgiving dessert

  • e

I’ve scoured Epicurious, poured through The Cake Bible, but still have a mental block!

I’m trying to come up with a festive, beautiful, memorable, and of course delicious dessert that fits within the following parameters:

--starters and entrée will be heavy, e.g., beef, red wine (this is an alternative Thanksgiving dinner) so I don’t want something super heavy. Intensely flavored is fine and appropriate, but a big chocolate cake with buttercream, for example, would not sit well.

--I’ll be bringing this to someone else’s home, so a frozen confection or something requiring lots of last minute preparation would not be optimal. I can expect some, but not a lot, of prep, oven, fridge, or freezer space.

--I’m not into using out-of-season fruit and have a preference for autumnal/winter flavors.

--I don’t want something simple, like a beautifully poached pear or a rustic crisp. As nice as that would be, I want a WOW! dessert. I’m a reasonably experienced baker, so complicated is okay.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I don't have the recipe with me but I've done a dark chocolate cranberry tart from an old Sunset mag holiday issue. It presents beautifully, is unexpected and tastes delicious. I will try to pull out the mag tonight and submit the recipe. You'll be in for a treat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: twistyhair

      Sorry for the delay. It took me a while to find the recipe which was from Bon Appetit not Sunset. It's for Chocolate Tart with Candied Cranberries. The recipe looks long, but the crust was the only thing that was even slightly challenging to make, the rest is a breeze. My guests said it was delicious. It looks absolutely beautiful on a pedestal server. Hope you get a chance to try. - if you have any questions.

      Crust: 1 2/3 C. all-purpose flour
      2 T. Sugar
      1/4 tsp. Salt
      10 T. Chilled, unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
      3 T. ice water (about)
      1 large egg yolk
      1 tsp. Vanilla

      Filling: 1/2 c. whipping cream
      8 oza. bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
      3 T. creme de cassis

      Candied Cranberries: 1 1/2 12 oz. pkgs frozen cranberries, unthawed
      1 c. sugar
      Nonstick vegetable oil spray

      For Crust: Blend flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter and cut in , using on/off turns, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 1/2 tblsp water, egg yolk and vanilla. Blend until moist clumps form, adding mor water by 1/2 tblsps if dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 2 hours. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Soften slightly before rolling out).
      Preheat oven to 375. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 13- 14-ionch round. Transfer dough to 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Cut dough overhang to 3/4 inch; fold overhang in and press, forming sides that extend 1/4 inch above top of pan. Pierce crust all over with fork. Freeze 15 minutes.

      Bake crust 15 minutes. If sides of crust fall, press up with back of fork. Bake crust until beginning to brown, about 15 min. longer. Cool on rack.

      For Filling: Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth; whisk in liquer. Pour filling into crust. Refrigerate until filling is firm, at least 2 hrs and up to 1 day.

      For Candied Cranberries: Preheat oven to 375. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Toss cranberries and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Spread mixture on baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Using metal spatula, stir berries gently. Bake until berries are thawed and most sugar is dissolved, about 5 min. longer. Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Spoons berries atop filling; drizzle with syrup from sheet. Chill 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead; keep chilled).

    2. I brought this to someone's home (out of state) for Thanksgiving last year. I made it the day before, chilled it overnight and then transported it in a cake carrier Thanksgiving morning. It held up well to a 5-hour car trip and was delicious served at room temp. It also looks very impressive and tasted delicious.


      2 Replies
      1. re: Buttercup

        I noticed all the discussion on Epicurious about the icing being runny/difficult to get right.

        What was your experience with the icing? I've never done anything quite like that recipe.

        1. re: eel

          As best I can recall (it's been a year), I needed to cool the icing a bit more than called for in the recipe, as it was still pretty hot after ten minutes. I don't remember exactly how long I cooled it but it was warm--not hot. At that point it was thin enough to spread but thick enough to stay put.

      2. This caramel nut tart from Gourmet is amazing. I seem to recall that the original recipe only called for walnuts, not pecans, but this version sounds pretty wonderful as well. It transports easily, doesn't take long to make, and it's an all around winner.


        1. If you want to do twists on traditional, I did these 2 pies last year -- apple pie with cranberry, really cuts the sweet/blandness of apples, and the bourbon orange pecan pie-- the orange adds a great new dimension to the sweetness of pecan pie.

          1. I wrote up a trial run of 4 desserts. The first or last might work for you. The maple pumpkin pot au creme was really good but might not give you the WOW factor that a more difficult dessert might have.