I'm sure the last thing any of you want to do is think about Thanksgiving dinner after finally digesting all of your own dinners, but I have two recipes I think you'll really want to know about -- and they're both desserts. And you know what they say: There's always room for dessert.
This year I made Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing and Dorie Greenspan's Cranberry Bundt Cake. These carved out their spots on the table among the pumpkin and apple pies.
The pumpkin cookies disappeared quite quickly; I think there is still some leftover bundt cake. That isn't to say it wasn't good -- because it was delicious -- but I just don't think it ended up being a top choice when people were forced to decide whether to fit in a piece of pie or a sliver of cake after being filled to the brim with cornbread and Portuguese sweet bread, chicken noodle or butternut squash soup, fruit salad, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sausage and apple stuffing, turnip, candied yams, corn, fennel, and brussels sprouts. Perhaps cranberry bundt cake doesn't sound as nice as apple pie. It's also unusual -- a risk compared with pumpkin and apple pie, the old standbys.
Nonetheless, my cousin, my mom, and I all tried some, and my dad has been eating it for breakfast every morning since Thanksgiving. I highly recommend that you make it and serve it to the cranberry and spice cake lovers you know -- when they aren't already stuffed.
Cranberry Bundt Cake (Recipe from Bon Appetit, November 2008)
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour or almond meal* (about 2 1/2 ounces)
2 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder**
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain reduced-fat (2%) Greek-style yogurt
1 cup chopped toasted almonds
1 cup halved fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw)
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/3 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons (about) orange juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Whisk first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add both sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract, then Greek-style yogurt. Add dry ingredients; beat just until blended. Fold in almonds and all cranberries. Transfer batter to prepared Bundt pan.
Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely.
Stir powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons orange juice in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Mix in more juice by 1/2 teaspoonfuls to reach consistency of heavy cream. Spoon icing over cake, allowing it to drip down sides. Let stand until icing sets, at least 30 minutes. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.
*Sometimes labeled "ground almonds"; available at specialty foods stores and natural foods stores.
**A spice blend that usually contains ground fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves; available in the spice section of most supermarkets and online at penzeys.com.
MORE INFO: Greek-style yogurt is especially thick and rich, even the reduced-fat variety.
My siblings thought it would be funny to fill in the "hole" in the cake (funny if you've seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding). I loved the idea and left it that way when we served the cake.
Note: My icing didn't sit up as well as Dorie Greenspan's did. I even made it thicker than the recipe said (as thick as heavy cream), and it still sort of melted into the cake. The cake was cold. I had made it Tuesday night and didn't try frosting it until Thursday morning. So my suggestion is to just make a very, very thick icing, and that might just work.
This cake held up very well. It was fresh-tasting and moist when we had it after Thanksgiving dinner and continued to be so as we munched on it for breakfast in the days following. And based on comments I've read from other people who have made this cake, it is definitely best to make it a day or so ahead of time so the flavors can mingle.
As for the pumpkin cookies, they were quite a pain to make, but they were well liked by all. Even those who don't normally like pumpkin said they enjoyed them. My mom took to just pulling the frosting off and leaving naked cookies on the dish because the frosting was just that good. Who doesn't like brown butter flavored things? (By the way, I call it frosting; Martha calls it icing. I think it's too thick to be considered icing.)
I say they were a pain to make because they took forever! I don't know if it was the oven and the fact that we had butternut squash roasting in there while trying to bake the cookies or if it had something to do with my plopping teaspoonfuls of dough on the cookie sheet rather than piping it on there, but I was so ready to be done baking the cookies that I finally put half of the batter in a container to bake another time.
When they were finally all baked and cooled, I slid them into a plastic baggie and waited until the next morning (Thanksgiving Day) to frost them. Well, since the cookies are very soft, they got a little too moist in that baggie over night and all clung to each other. I had a feeling this was going to happen and wondered why I hadn't listened to my instincts and put them on a plate, layered in wax paper.
Luckily, they did still need to be frosted, and I was able to doctor up any gashes and pulls with the brown butter concoction.
Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing (Recipe from Martha Stewart's Cookies)
FOR THE COOKIES
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 ounces)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
FOR THE ICING
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon evaporated milk,
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Make cookies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.
Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla; mix until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; mix until combined.
Transfer 1 1/2 cups batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (such as Ateco #806). Pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until tops spring back, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.
Make icing: Put confectioners' sugar in a large bowl; set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately add butter to confectioners' sugar, scraping any browned bits from sides and bottom of pan. Add evaporated milk and vanilla; stir until smooth. Spread about 1 teaspoon icing onto each cookie. If icing stiffens, stir in more evaporated milk, a little at a time. Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope you'll try these recipes soon!
Is there anything new you made this year and really loved? I'm looking forward to hearing about your dinner... and desserts!