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From the food editor: Four not-so-traditional dessert ideas for Thanksgiving dinner

Warm Pumpkin-Bourbon Cheesecake: yum!

Associated Press (2015)

Warm Pumpkin-Bourbon Cheesecake: yum!

We're here to help you better prepare for the year's biggest food holiday: Thanksgiving. Throughout the site, we have Thanksgiving recipes galore, from a spoon bread side to a parsnip dish to corn recipes. We offer ideas for nine different kinds of stuffings, not only for your bird but for other vessels like squash and apples. And there is a Thanksgiving game plan as well as a by-the-numbers cheat sheet to help you make sure everything arrives at the table at (roughly) the same time.

To round things out, I am offering four ideas in this week's editor column for Thanksgiving desserts to serve alongside or, if you're in the mood to branch out, instead of, the classic pie.

Pecan Shortbread Squares: Make the crust first, by mixing ¾ cup all-purpose flour, ¼ cup cornstarch, ½ cup confectioners' sugar and ½ teaspoon salt in a food processor and pulsing a few times to mix. Add ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter cut into 1-inch pieces and pulse until mixed. Pour into a 9-inch square baking pan lined with aluminum foil, pressing down to form an even layer. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 17 minutes, then set aside. In a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, ¾ cup light brown sugar, 3 tablespoons honey, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and 3 cups coarsely chopped pecans. Stir to mix, cooking for about 10 minutes until mixture is combined, then pour over crust and bake until filling is bubbling and caramel in color, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on rack. Recipe adapted from

Pumpkin Pudding: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Pour 1 quart low-fat milk into a 3- or 4-quart pot or saucepan, and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and slowly stream in 6 tablespoons stone-ground yellow cornmeal while whisking. Turn the heat to low and simmer 15 minutes, stirring, until the mixture has the consistency of runny cream of wheat. Stir in ⅓ cup molasses and ¼ cup mild honey and continue to simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in 2 cups pumpkin puree until smooth. Whisk in 4 eggs, ¾ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground ginger and ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and stir to combine. Pour into a buttered 2-quart casserole and bake 1 to 1 ½ hours until set; a knife should come out clean when inserted, and the top should be just beginning to brown. Recipe adapted from the New York Times.

Apple Crisp: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, toss together 6 baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons flour. Pour into a buttered 2-quart baking dish and set aside. For the topping, mix 1 ¼ cups flour, ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup light brown sugar, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Using your fingers, work 12 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, into the mixture until it just comes together. Add ½ cup chopped nuts. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit and bake for about 45 minutes. Recipe adapted from the Food Network.



Warm Pumpkin-Bourbon Cheesecake


  • For the crust:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for the pan
  • 1 ¼ cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (made by pulsing about 25 cookies in a food processor until finely ground)
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • For the filling:
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup bourbon, dark rum or cognac
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground dry ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages ⅓-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), room temperature
  • Vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream, to serve


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush the inside of a 9-inch springform pan with melted butter.
  2. To make the crust, in a medium bowl, stir together the 6 tablespoons of butter, the gingersnap crumbs, brown sugar and salt until combined well. Pour the crumb mixture into the pan and press it evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake on the oven's middle shelf for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cake rack and cool for 30 minutes.
  3. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Line a mesh colander with a clean kitchen towel. Mound the pumpkin puree into the towel and set over a medium bowl. Bring the ends of the towel up and gently squeeze to remove excess water. (You should be able to squeeze out about ¼ cup of liquid.) Discard the liquid. Rinse and dry the bowl, then in it mix together the pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla and bourbon. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Add the cream cheese, then use an electric mixer on high to beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat on low, just until combined.
  6. Bring a large kettle of water to a boil.
  7. Use foil to wrap the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Pour the filling into the pan. Fold a kitchen towel so it fits evenly in a roasting pan just a bit larger than the springform pan. Set the springform pan on top of the towel in the roasting pan. Working quickly, pour enough boiling water into the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until it is mostly set but still slightly jiggly at the center.
  8. Spoon some of the cheesecake onto each serving plate and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a spoonful of whipped cream. Serves 16.
Source: Associated Press


From the food editor: Four not-so-traditional dessert ideas for Thanksgiving dinner 11/18/16 [Last modified: Monday, November 21, 2016 4:50pm]
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