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thanksgiving dessert - help

husband's family have decided on a last minute thanksgiving dinner and they asked me to make a dessert. I am working till 5.30 on Wednesday but will have time to shop after work and all of Thursday morning to make something.

I am not American (English) and do not want to attempt pumpkin pies so can anyone suggest a dessert. I make good pastry so don't mind making a pie but will not have the energy to peel apples so forget that filling idea. Someone is making cheesecake already. What else is appropriate for T-giving dessert for 15-20 guests. Could really use some suggestions.

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  1. In my family, at least, all pies are welcome. Coconut cream pie only takes a few minutes and people love it :) Even more though, I think you should reconsider your position on the pumpkin pie- the recipe is on the back of the can (really easy- like three ingredients plus spices) and it is part of the tradition.

    1. +1 for pumpkin pie - the crust is the hardest part! traditional American pumpkin pie filling is incredibly quick & easy to throw together, and *much* less labor-intensive than apple.

      my other suggestion would be pecan pie.

      1. Red velvet cake...everyone does pies for Thanksgiving.....I'm making cake (besides, I don't like pumpkin or coconut) The cake can be made from a box, what could be simpler? Bake it in a bundt pan, then whip up some cream cheese frosting and garnish with toasted pecans or walnuts.

        1. I made this cake last year for Christmas & it was a big success. http://www.recipezaar.com/Aunt-Nettie...
          The orange, nuts, and dried cranberries all seem in keeping with the Thanksgiving menu.

          1. There should be a pie of some sort on the Thanksgiving table, and since someone is doing cheesecake, the pie is up to you. On the other hand, Costco's 12" diameter pumpkin pie, for $6, will feed 10-12, and is very very good. I would buy one of those, and make homemade whipped cream and a sauce to drizzle, with pecans and either caramel or maple. As Garrison Keillor says, the best pumpkin pie you ever had is not all that much better than the worst pumpkin pie you ever had.

            Sweet potato pie is great, too, but really, other than pumpkin pie, I can't think of a pie that takes significantly less prep time than an apple pie, as long as you don't have itty bitty apples. I can peel, core, and slice an apple in about a minute.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious

              That's a great quote to remember, and it fits a lot more than pumpkin pie.

            2. I dunno. I want to say if you're English do something English and make Thanksgiving more inclusive. How about a trifle? Or maybe you know something even better that's seasonal to the cold weather on the British Isles.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rainey

                I was going to suggest a trifle in this instance, too, rainey.

                First of all, since the arrangements for the dinner have just been made, I don't think OP should feel under any pressure to make an American dessert (pumpkin pie) that she hasn't made before and which she's stated she doesn't feel comfortable doing for this meal. Secondly, JMO, but I would love to have a family member bring a dessert that reflects her heritage to our holiday tables.

                Trifles are so flexible and can still accommodate some of the traditional Thanksgiving flavors--or not, if OP would prefer not to be bound by that.

                roxlet's suggestion of the sticky toffee pudding sounds delicious, too.

                Then again at our Thanksgiving and Christmas tables, after the "feature" desserts are served, everybody seems to enjoy having a simple cookie, brownie or blondie plate they can enjoy as they linger over coffee. Gingersnaps might make a nice "digestif" in that case.

              2. another non-pie option - ginger spice cake.

                1. Another non-pie option that is always well-recieved is sticky toffee pudding -- in keeping with your British heritage!

                  1. As goodhealthgourmet said, pumpkin pie is the easiest one to make, as a bit of encouragement. Along those lines, you could do a sweet potato pie. You could roast the sweet potatoes the night before, and make the pie Thursday. For something less traditional, I've baked flourless chocolate cake batter in a pie crust and it was really good.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: chowser

                      That chocolate cake pie sounds really good indeed. My mother used to make a lemon cake pie that was really something.

                      1. re: chowser

                        i made a dark chocolate tart last year which was pretty much just chocolate ganache layered in a crust with stewed, sugared cranberries. it was outrageous.

                        1. re: chowser

                          A good pie crust can be the basis of so many good desserts. Lemon sounds great, especially one that's molteny. Love the chocolate/cranberry tart idea--I was going to do lemon over cream cheese tart but now am thinking chocolate ganache/cranberry would be pretty, too. Decisions, decisions.

                          1. re: chowser

                            Recipezaar has a lemon cake pie identical to my mom's.

                            1. re: chowser

                              well i'm a chocoholic (dark only, please), and cranberries are such a Thanksgiving ingredient, it just made sense :)

                              but if you want to do something with lemon, i also served a molasses-ginger cake with warm lemon curd and everyone flipped for it.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                I bet a cranberry curd would be fabulous.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  yum! too bad i'm not making it this year.

                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  That sounds great, too. I'll bet my husband would love the warm lemon curd. I love ginger cake. Combining it with the chocolate idea, epicurious has a great ginger cake w/ chocolate ganache topping. So many dessert ideas, so little time. I'll bet I could fill a year just making desserts in pie crusts. Blog idea...

                              2. re: chowser

                                I make a pear fudge pie that's almost like a soft, fudgy brownie over chunks of pear, but a bit more sophisticated in flavor (with some brandy to flavor).

                                  1. re: EmmaToo

                                    Yes, I will post it tomorrow, when I have it in front of me.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      I realize that corn syrup is a bugaboo for some people these days. I was going for a specific texture in this recipe, based on the memory of a pie I used to have at a cafe when I was growing up, and including the corn syrup achieved that (and dark Karo syrup does not have the dreaded HFCS), This isn't extra-sweet or goopy, it's rich, and bittersweet. Perfect with barely sweetened whipped cream.

                                      Pear Fudge Pie

                                      Pastry for a single-crust 9-inch pie
                                      3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
                                      1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
                                      2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter
                                      1/2 cup dark corn syrup
                                      1/2 sugar
                                      4 large eggs
                                      2 tablespoons brandy
                                      1 teaspoon vanilla
                                      2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
                                      1 large or 2 smaller ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut in chunks

                                      Preheat oven to 350F. Put pastry in pie pan, pierce all over with a fork and freeze for 15 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes, until just starting to color, and remove to a rack. Melt chocolate and butter (I use the microwave) and whisk until smooth. Whisk in corn syrup and sugar, then eggs, brandy, and vanilla, then flour. Spread pear chunks in the bottom of the pastry and pour filling over. Bake 50 minutes, until the top looks set and no longer shiny (it will still be jiggly underneath, but will set up as the pie cools). Cool the pie to room temperature before serving.

                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        Wow - thank you for the quick response! This sounds delicious and just my type of dessert -- unique, elegant, and not too sugary sweet. Thanks again for posting this. : )

                              3. I love the trifle idea I hope trifles will manage a car journey.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: smartie

                                  you could transport the components separately and assemble the trifle when you get there if that helps.

                                2. gingerbread with caramel and a fruit compote on the side
                                  cranberry upside down cake

                                  1. How about pumpkin bread pudding. Mix a few yummy ingredients together and bake.
                                    Like this one:

                                    I'm making this Sunday morning for brunch.

                                    1. If you want to pick up something, try Whole Foods' pies. Call ahead to make sure but I have seen plenty on Thanksgiving day in the past. Apple pie & vanilla ice cream...yum.

                                      1. I'm making Red Velvet Cake only in Cupcake form. I'm going to transport them unfrosted and frost them at the location. Thinking also of some toasted coconut on top.

                                        1. We hate pumpkin pie, so we never have it and don't miss it. But we love chocolate, so tomorrow I am making this Fudge Pecan Pie. Very easy and good. You can use your own pie crust although the recipe calls for store-bought.


                                          1. since time is running out:

                                            paula deen's ooey gooey pumpkin cake
                                            pecan tassies (basically a cream cheese crust w/pecan pie insides)
                                            pecan bars
                                            caramel corn
                                            apple squares (basically an apple cake)

                                            1. I think you've decided on the trifle but with good pastry skills and needing to tranport it, what about a bakewell tart? They're one of my favorite tarts.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: chowser

                                                in the middle of making trifles right now, waiting for jello to half set. I am making them in deep foil round containers and if I make a tent with aluminum foil tomorrow morning I think they will transport just fine.

                                                1. re: smartie

                                                  Jello? I've never had jello in trifle. How do you make it?