While we love tradition, sometimes it's nice to spice it up! Thanksgiving is filled with the same foods we expect to see each and every year. Fluffy mashed potatoes, a tasty turkey, and stuffing are just a few of the dishes we look for each year. While pumpkin pie is near the top of our favorite Thanksgiving foods, we're exploring alternatives to the expected pumpkin pie this holiday season. Whether you're not a fan of pumpkin, or ready to try something new, these recipes will certainly have you inspired!
The Walnut Variation: A Cake
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ vanilla bean
10 ½ tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup milk
5 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1. The night before: Separate eggs and let egg whites sit on the counter overnight, covered with a clean cloth. Pour cream into a saucepan. Split and scrape vanilla bean into the cream and heat until just boiling. Remove from heat and let cool. Cover and chill overnight.
2. The next day: Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a 9 x 12-inch cake pan with buttered parchment. (Alternatively, you can prepare two 9-inch round cake pans.)
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar until creamy and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt. Add mixture to butter and sugar in 3 increments, mixing fully between additions.
5. Whisk together egg yolks and milk. Add to batter in 3 increments, incorporating fully each time. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
6. In a clean mixing bowl (I wipe down my bowl and whisk attachment with vinegar), whip egg whites until foamy. Add sugar and cinnamon and whip to soft peaks.
7. Spread the meringue over cake batter, cover with toasted walnuts and bake 35-40 minutes, until the meringue is crackly. Let cake cool completely.
8. Meanwhile, remove vanilla bean from cream. Add maple syrup and whip cream to soft peaks. Cut cake in half and place one half on a cake plate, meringue side up. Cover with whipped cream. Top with remaining half, meringue side up. You will end up with a 2-layer square cake from your single-layer rectangular cake. (If you're doing this in two round cake pans, just top one with the other.) Let sit 1-2 hours.
9. To go completely over-the-top, serve with a dark chocolate sauce punched up with a few dashes of walnut bitters.
Sweet Potato Flan
1 cup mashed sweet potato
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ cup maple syrup
1 cup buttermilk (or yogurt)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Caramel Pecans and Maple Yogurt
1 teaspoon butter
½ cup pecans, broken or whole
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1. Heat the oven to 325° F. In a blender, combine the sweet potato, spices, maple syrup, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and purée until smooth. Divide the purée among six custard dishes.
2. Put the custard dishes in a large baking pan and pour hot water into the pan until it reaches at least an inch up the sides of the dishes. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes. The flans should be set and barely quiver when shaken. Let cool.
3. While the flan is cooling, melt the butter in a small pan over low heat. Then add the pecans, sprinkle with sugar, and turn to coat evenly. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar coats and caramelizes the nuts. Remove to a plate and sprinkle with salt. Chop as finely or coarsely as you want.
4. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and the yogurt. Taste, and add more maple syrup if you want. Serve the flan topped with a spoonful of maple yogurt, garnished with chopped caramel pecans.
Mixed Apple Pie
For the pie:
1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
½ cup butter, melted
6 cups mixed apples, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus 1/2 teaspoon zest
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons flour
½ cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Tangy Maple Cream
½ cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon maple extract
1. Combine oats and next 5 ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle butter over top and mix well. Press mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9- or 10-inch greased pie plate to form a thick crust.
2. Preheat oven to 375° F. Place a medium-sized glass or stainless steel bowl in the freezer to chill. Place apples in a large bowl and drizzle with lemon juice and maple syrup; mix well. In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, cinnamon, allspice, and flour. Sprinkle mixture over apples and toss to coat. Evenly distribute filling into unbaked crust.
3. Place apples in a large bowl and drizzle with lemon juice and maple syrup; mix well. In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, allspice, and 3 tablespoons flour. Sprinkle mixture over apples and toss to coat. Evenly distribute filling into unbaked crust, taking care to layer the apples. This will ensure your pie desn't fall apart when you cut into it.
4. For the topping, combine remaining flour, brown sugar, and butter in a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, rub in the butter until moist clumps form. Sprinkle topping over filling and pat neatly into place.
5. Bake pie for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the apples are soft and the crust is browned on the edges. This takes about 50 to 60 minutes in a convection oven and slightly longer in a normal oven. If the top seems to be browning too quickly while baking, loosely cover with aluminum foil. Remove pie from oven and allow to sit for at least 2 hours.
6. While the pie is baking, make the Maple Cream. Pour cream into chilled bowl and beat with a whisk or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Beat in yogurt and extract until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
7. Once pie has cooled, cut into slices and top with a dollop of Maple Cream before serving.
We can't wait to see what you'll be crafting in your kitchen this holiday! Don't forget to see more of our favorite recipes here!