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Pumpkin Dessert for Thanksgiving -- what's new and different?

I'm beginning my menu plan for Thanksgiving. For dessert we'll have apple pie and ice cream. Then I'm planning to bake this layer cake http://cookingbythebook.com/blog/reci...

I need a pumpkin dessert and I don't like pumpkin pie very much. In the past I've done ice cream, cheesecake, a layered pie filling with chocolate and a sour cream layers in addition to pumpkin. I've done pumpkin bread pudding and pumpkin creme brulees.

What haven't I explored yet? A filled and rolled cake? Brownies? Some decadent mousse creation? What interesting thing is there to combine pumpkin with? I'd love your favorite tried-and-true pumpkin desserts. Bonus points for things or parts that can be done in advance.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. This gingerbread pumpkin trifle is a big hit with our family:


    2 Replies
    1. re: Terrie H.

      Interesting! What do you use for "mild" molasses?

      1. re: rainey

        Just regular Grandma's brand. This is really a delicious trifle.

    2. Pumpkin Crack! Also referred to as a dump cake. You will never want pumpkin pie again once you have had this addictive indulgence.

      1. Did you do "pumpkin bread" pudding or pumpkin "bread pudding"? I like both but the former more. A filled and rolled pumpkin cake is good but no different from a pumpkin cake w/ cream cheese frosting (which I also like) and if you're already doing a layer cake, I'd skip that (I've had that cake on my list of things to bake so I'd love to hear about it after you make it). I do pumpkin custard but, imo, that's just pumpkin pie w/out the crust.

        What about pumpkin cookies? I like this recipe but fool around w/ the icing.


        3 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          Cookies sound like a great, lighter (relative to Thanksgiving) option. I'll check out your recipe but we also have a family favorite with a lemon icing that could be perfect.

          For Pumpkin Bread Pudding I use bread made with pumpkin:

          Pumpkin Ginger Braid
          makes 2 loaves

          • 4 1/2 cup bread flour
          • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
          • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
          • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
          • 1/3 cup candied ginger, minced
          • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
          • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
          • 1 3/4 cup pumpkin purée, NOT pie filling
          • 1/4 cup butter
          • 1/2 cup golden raisins

          1. Place all of the ingredients except the raisins into the pan of your bread machine, program for the "Dough" cycle and press "Start". This dough may initially be a bit heavy for some machines; if necessary, use a spatula to help it get going. About 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, adjust the consistency of the dough with additional water or flour as needed. The dough should be smooth and soft. About 4-5 minutes before the end of the kneading cycle, add the raisins. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.

          2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it in half and then divide each half into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a 10" log.

          3. Working with 3 logs at a time, place them on a lightly greased work surface and braid them together. Be sure to pinch the ends together well and tuck them under. Repeat with remaining logs. Set the braids aside, covered with lightly greased plastic wrap to rise for 1 hour. The risen loaves should look puffy but not necessarily doubled.

          4. Bake the bread in a preheated 375˚ oven for 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned and about 195˚ internal temperature. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack. Serve them warm or at room temperature.

          5. Use leftover bread to make Pumpkin Bread Pudding.

          1. re: rainey

            Sounds good--a pumpkin "bread pudding." I like pumpkin bread made into a bread pudding, using a lower fat pumpkin bread so it absorbs the custard better. I've never done a pumpkin bread pudding with a pumpkin bread and a pumpkin custard. I might give that a try.

          2. re: chowser

            Those cookies are very much like a Libby's recipe I've been using since the 80s. Mine have raisins and the icing is tart with lemon zest and juice.

            They're fabulous and I bet these are too. Thanks for the suggestion.

          3. I love this bread pudding stuffed pumpkins using small pumpkins. They can be completely done ahead and baked while you eat dinner.
            The raisin bread really works,though I had my doubts. Limoncello in the sauce is a crowd pleaser.

            3 Replies
            1. re: magiesmom

              Lemon sauce for pumpkin bread pudding is wonderful! Also for gingerbread.

              1. re: magiesmom

                I always do my pies ahead and put them in the cooling oven when the turkey comes out. With the oven off they warm to just about a perfect eating temperature in the time it takes for us to have dinner and a bit of a breather before dessert.

                Love limoncello as a flavoring. I sometimes substitute 3 parts of limoncello for 1 part of vanilla in cake and quickbread recipes.

                Our family favorite pumpkin cookie has a lemon icing. Lemon really brightens the mix.

                1. re: rainey

                  I sometimes put lemon icing on pumpkin quick bread/muffins, and it is indeed very complementary.

              2. These look good:


                or pumpkin scones?

                Both nice with coffee (and white bread turkey sandwiches!) on Thanksgiving night, several hours after dinner.
                Baked brie with pumpkin chutney?

                1 Reply
                1. re: blue room

                  Pumpkin biscotti is definitely something I have to try. It's also more sophisticated than the family cookie recipe I had in mind. Lower in fat too and something to do *well* ahead!

                  I think I'll add some toasted hazelnuts and maybe crystalized ginger to the batter and I could put out the lemon icing from my family favorite recipe for optional dunking.

                  Thanks! I think we have a winner!

                2. I have made this Warm Pumpkin Cake a couple of times: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/wa...

                  The first time I made it it turned out perfectly - it was soft and custardy and delicious in every way, served with a buttery bourbon reduction. The second time, I accidentally overcooked it and the texture just wasn't very good - leaden and soggy. I think I may have overdone it on the cloves as well, and the flavor took over. So, I recommend it highly, but with a caveat - be sure not to overcook!

                  1. If for whatever you decide, you plan to start with a fresh pumpkin, I would strongly recommend
                    using a kabocha squash (a.k.a. butterCUP, not butternut) instead. They are drier, denser, and sweeter than butternut, acorn, or pumpkin. To me, they have a taste and mouthfeel like a combination of pumpkin and sweet potato. As a vegetable, I halve and bake them plain, and eat the flesh without any seasoning or fat - it's that good.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: greygarious

                      I love winter squash and I'm partial to kabocha -- tho I experience the dryness as a bit of a negative when we have it as squash. Could be I get older specimen in the city than you do. I usually combine it with other varieties to compensate. Even so, the flavor *is* standout so I am also a fan.

                      But I was thinking of making my traditional pumpkin soup with squash this year and kabocha would be the variety to choose. Great suggestion!

                      1. re: greygarious

                        I don't like the typical spicy spices in pumpkin desserts and I love squash, so if there were a dessert that used squash for the sweetness and left out the Nutmeg, Cinnemon, Allspice, and especially Clove, I'd try it.

                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                          This Pumpkin Crème Brulée has cinnamon and nutmeg but that's it. You could, of course, eliminate one or both but I can't imagine not enjoying cinnamon and nutmeg myself.

                          Pumpkin Crème Brulée
                          Serving Size: 6

                          • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
                          • 1/2 vanilla bean, split with seeds scraped out
                          • 5 large egg yolks
                          • 6 tablespoon light brown sugar, firmly packed
                          • 1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
                          • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
                          • 2 tablespoon Grand Marnier
                          • 1/4 cup sugar
                          • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

                          1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the cream ot a boil. Then remove the pan from the heat. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod into the cream then add the pod as well. Allow to steep for 20 minutes or so. Remove and discard the vanilla pod.

                          2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar and nutmeg to blend. Add the pumpkin and liqueur and whisk until smooth. Gradually pour in the warm cream while whisking.

                          3. Divide the custard mixture among six 1/2-cup ramekins. Arrange the ramekins in a baking pan large enough to hold them, then add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

                          4. Bake about 20 minutes or until the sides fo the custards are set but the centers still move slightly when the dishes are gently shaken. Remove custards from the water bath, allow to cool for 2 hours then refrigerate at least 1 hour.

                          5. * May be prepared 1 day ahead to this point.

                          6. Preheat the broiler (or prepare a propane torch). Sift the sugar with the cinnamon into a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the tops of the chilled custards. Broil 8" from the heating element until the sugar begins to melt, watching carefully to prevent burning -- about 30 seconds. OR move the lighted torch with a medium flame back and forth or in a circular motion across the sugared custards to blister and melt the sugar.

                          7. Serve immediately.


                          I have a lot of pumpkin recipes. I'll see what else is light on the spices.

                          1. re: GraydonCarter

                            I thought this was very good. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... It calls for some allspice in addition to cinnamon but I'm sure you could substitute ginger or cardamom (altho I'd only use 1/4 teaspoon myself).

                            This ice cream has ginger and cinnamon. Ditto above. http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe...

                            The rest of what I've got, I'm afraid, are full of the contingent of pumpkin spices.

                            1. re: GraydonCarter

                              do you like cardamom? It is excellent with squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes.

                          2. I'm switching my pumpkin pie dessert this year, instead I'l be making this:
                            and the Lebovitz pumpkin ice cream which I made recently was excellent. Has anyone made this cake? Will be trying it for the first time, but from what I understand Ina's recipes usually work well and is one of many pumpkin desserts on Leite's website.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: lilgi

                              Oooooo! That looks excellent and you got me at Ginger Buttercream! I'm definitely saving it for a future year but I think the pumpkin biscotti suggested by blue room above are the right thing for the third of our desserts.

                              I bet it's going to be a wow at your house tho. What time should we show up?

                              1. re: rainey

                                We'll have champagne waiting for you at about 3 Rainey, for all except me of course >.<

                                I liked that the cream in the roulade is mascarpone with just a hint of ginger, just crossing my fingers that it goes without a hitch since I won't be trying it out first. Good luck with the biscotti, sounds great!

                              2. re: lilgi

                                cant speak for the cake, but the ice cream i can def second!!

                                1. re: mattstolz

                                  Matt this was very good:

                                  I made it richer by adding a yolk, switching the amount of heavy cream and milk and increased the brown sugar to 1/3 cup, but the original is excellent as well if you don't want to go too heavy. (Also good with 2 teaspoons dark rum). Definitely recommend!

                              3. - pumpkin whoopie pies with maple-ginger filling
                                - ice cream sandwiches with ginger cookies and pumpkin ice cream (or vice versa)
                                - pumpkin tiramisu
                                - pumpkin semifreddo
                                - pumpkin cannoli

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  i think you might need to share more about this semifreddo please

                                  1. re: mattstolz

                                    lighter option:

                                    my changes:
                                    - sub molasses for the honey that's mixed in with the pumpkin
                                    - sub coconut sugar for white sugar
                                    - sub maple syrup, honey or homemade simple syrup for corn syrup
                                    - omit the cloves & increase the cinnamon to 1/2 tsp
                                    - use pistachios or pecans for the nuts

                                    the really rich & dense one:

                                    my changes:
                                    - coconut sugar instead of white
                                    - bump up the spices a bit and add a touch of cardamom
                                    - add crushed toasted pecans or pistachios to the gingersnap crumbs (which, of course, are gluten-free in my case)

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Love the list of subs :-) I so often wish you were in my kitchen with my when I'm wondering "is this going to work :-/ ??"

                                      1. re: jvanderh

                                        that's so sweet! i'm always there with you in spirit ;)

                                2. I'm watching throwdown and Bobby Flay did a pumpkin bread pudding with a whiskey sauce that looked delicious.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    I saw that one (I think last year) and that dessert did look very good, I'm not sure why I held back on making it other than it looked very rich and there are several steps in making it. I couldn't imagine eating it after Thanksgiving, and come to think of it I don't eat much on that day overall, the cooking smells throughout the day tend to overwhelm me. (This is why I love the leftovers!)

                                    1. re: lilgi

                                      We consider Thanksgiving dinner a necessary step in achieving the all important leftovers at my house.

                                      1. re: lilgi

                                        The tasters apparently said that it was very "light," unlike the pecan pie that Ree made. Yeah, light as a fender!

                                    2. as it stands now, my menu will likely include:
                                      Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake - double layered
                                      Bite-Sized Pumpkin Whoopie Pie (as GHG suggested above, except i do mine with a browned butter cream cheese filling)
                                      Crepes with a Pumpkin Sauce and Pepita Pralines
                                      Pumpkin S'mores -- homemade pumpkin marshmallows and graham crackers, and i'll probably substitute white chocolate for some and use dark chocolate on others

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Emme

                                        While our Thanksgiving dinner is a distant memory I'm always looking for new pumpkin and or whoopie pie recipes. Would you share your recipe for browned butter cream cheese filling please?

                                        1. re: maplesugar

                                          this is an estimate, as i'm pretty bad about exact measuring... but just adjust to your taste...

                                          2 oz browned butter, resolidified in fridge, but let soften slightly
                                          6 oz cream cheese
                                          1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla
                                          1/2 - 1 tsp lemon juice
                                          1 cup powdered sugar
                                          beat cream cheese til smooth. beat in butter in small chunks. add vanilla and lemon juice. add powdered sugar and beat til smooth, creamy and light.

                                        2. re: Emme

                                          *drops jaw*

                                          Can I have all of those other recipes too? I'm at 002753@gmail if that will clutter up the thread too much. Pretty please? Estimates are fine, and I have a scale.

                                          1. re: jvanderh

                                            lol i haven't quite worked through the pumpkin sauce yet, but as soon as i do, will get em up...
                                            and i keep toying with pumpkin marshmallows vs a pumpkin marshmallow fluff...

                                            1. re: Emme

                                              I am always curious about marshmallow substitutions. I have followed the recipe to the letter because I don't understand the science, but they are disgustingly sweet. I generally really like marshmallows, so I'm interested to see if they could be improved.

                                        3. Id say one of the best ways to make any pumpkin dish unique is to make your own pumpkin puree for it. I think that would really raise any pumpkin standby i could think of.

                                          also, i have been toying with the idea of doing a sweet take on a traditionally savory pumpkin presentation for thanksgiving. my top two ideas right now are a Sweet pumpkin soup (pumpkin soup but flavored w pumpkin pie spices instead of savory ones, finished with marscapone and graham pie crust instead of creme fraiche and croutons) and a sweet pumpkin risotto/rice pudding, finished again with sweet marscapone and crumbled graham crackers instead of parm

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: mattstolz

                                            I've largely abandoned actual pumpkins in favor of firm-fleshed squash. They're cheap and tasty, the puree is something much more akin to canned pumpkin (sometimes pumpkins are watery), and they're small enough that you can nuke 'em and scoop out the flesh, which is so easy.

                                          2. I recently made this chocolate-pumpkin cake (http://www.theppk.com/2011/10/chocola...) and it was a huge hit at a potluck. I doubled the recipe, baked in what I've heard called a lasagne pan and then drizzled maple glaze over the top. You'll have to cook it longer than the recipe because of the doubling. Don't let the fact that it is a vegan dish scare you; the result was fudgy and moist. I made it a day ahead but it would have been fine 2 days later...if there had been any left.

                                            1. You could make M.F.K. Fisher's Ginger Hottendots (or any ginger snaps) and make a crumb cookie crust out of them. Then make pumpkin ice cream, and make a (or individual) frozen pie(s).

                                              Then, you could BakedAlaska them.

                                              I've never made baked alaska. It's so old school, but it sounds so damn good.

                                              1. One of the desserts easily made in advance that we enjoy is MS' pumpkin custard. It's baked in the oven and can be doubled or tripled depending on how many you're serving.