Everyone knows a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert is classic. Simply classic.
But what else can you serve that has a pumpkin flavor yet is a nice departure from the usual?
Here are five dessert suggestions that will satisfy your taste for pumpkin in a most unconventional-but-absolutely-delicious way:
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap-Walnut Crust
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE WITH GINGERSNAP-WALNUT CRUST
4 ounces gingersnap cookies (18-20 1 3/4-inch cookies)
1 cup walnut halves, divided
4 teaspoon(s) walnut oil or canola oil
12 ounce(s) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 container (16-ounce) nonfat cottage cheese
1 can (15-ounce) unseasoned pumpkin puree
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Tightly wrap the outside of the pan bottom and sides with heavy-duty foil to help keep the water bath from leaking into the cake. Put a kettle of water on to boil for the water bath.
2. Grind cookies and 1/3 cup walnuts to a fine meal in a food processor. Drizzle in oil and process, scraping the sides as needed, until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the pan in a roasting pan and set aside. Clean the food processor.
3. Beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until the spice is incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until completely smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides occasionally. Beat in vanilla.
Process cottage cheese in the food processor until completely smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides once. Gradually beat the cottage cheese and pumpkin puree into the cream cheese mixture on medium speed. Scrape down the sides and beat a final time to make sure no streaks remain. Pour the batter into the crust.
4. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come 1 inch up the side of the springform pan to create a hot water bath for the cake.
5. Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the oven. Bake the cheesecake in the center of the oven until it’s set around the edges but the center still jiggles slightly, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.
6. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Let the cake cool in the water bath until the water is room temperature. Coarsely chop the remaining 2/3 cup walnuts. Toast them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the water bath. Remove the foil. Place the nuts decoratively around the edge of the cheesecake. (Alternatively, turn the nuts into Candied Walnuts and decorate just before serving; see Variation.)
7. Refrigerate, uncovered, until very cold, at least 4 hours. Wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight if desired.8. To serve, remove the sides of the pan. Transfer the cheesecake to a cake stand, if desired.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil; coat with cooking spray. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large heavy skillet. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture turns golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 2/3 cup walnut halves, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes more. Turn the mixture out on the prepared baking sheet, spreading in an even layer. When completely cooled, break into clusters.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING
1 large loaf of challah bread, cubed
4 cups (1 quart) heavy whipping cream
2 cups sugar
3 cups canned pumpkin
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground allspice
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
Cinnamon Whipped Cream (optional, recipe follows)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch baking dish and set aside.
3. Place the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown; set aside.
4. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, cream, sugar, pumpkin and spices. Slowly add the bread to the mixture, pressing bread down with your hands to submerge in the liquid (do not stir the bread into mush). Let stand for 20 minutes so that the bread becomes saturated.
5. Place the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 to 25 more minutes until crisp and brown. Serve warm. If desired, top each serving with a dollop of Cinnamon Whipped Cream.
Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Whip 1 cup heavy cream with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
Pumpkin Semifreddo with Hazelnuts
PUMPKIN SEMIFREDDO WITH HAZELNUTS
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
1½ tablespoons light corn syrup
4 large egg whites
1 cup hazelnuts, blanched or roasted to remove skins (or substitute raw pistachios with skins) (divided use)
Bottled caramel sauce (optional)
Gingersnap cookies (optional)
1. Line a 9 ¼ x 5 ½ x 3-inch loaf pan with a sheet of plastic wrap long enough to hang completely over the sides of the pan.
2. Whisk pumpkin, honey and spices in bowl to blend. Set aside.
3. Stir sugar, water and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil syrup without stirring until candy thermometer registers 240 F. Immediately remove from heat.
4. While sugar syrup cooks, slowly beat egg whites in an electric mixer with a whip attachment until soft peaks form (do not beat egg whites in advance or they will not mix well with the other ingredients). As soon as the sugar syrup mixture is ready, turn mixer to high speed; gradually stream in finished hot syrup, beating until mixture is cool and glossy, about 5-7 minutes. Work quickly, because if the sugar syrup sits, it will be too sticky to pour.
5. Fold 1/3 of egg white mixture into pumpkin-spice mixture to lighten. Gently fold in remaining egg white mixture, being careful not to deflate the egg white mixture; do not over-mix. Fold in ½ cup nuts. Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight, or until firm.
6. To serve, remove semifreddo from the pan. Remove the plastic wrap and slice with a knife dipped in warm water. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. If desired, serve with caramel sauce and gingersnap cookies.
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon rum
2½ cups sugar
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup toasted chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
½ cup pear butter (such as McCutcheon’s brand)
Spiced Cream Cheese Icing (recipe follows)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, or spray with baking spray (such as Baker’s Joy).
3. Cream the oil, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, rum and sugar together with an electric mixer. Sift the flour, baking soda and spices together. Add the flour mixture slowly to the creamed sugar, mixing on low speed just until combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Fold in nuts, if desired.
4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 5-10 minutes and then turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely.
5. Split each cake layer in half, horizontally. Spread the first layer with a thin layer of pear butter – about 2 tablespoons. Top with a layer of cream cheese icing (about 1/3 to ½ cup). Repeat layers, but when the final cake layer is put on top, omit the pear butter and frost only with the cream cheese icing. Leave sides of the cake unfrosted. Alternatively, you can make a traditional two-layer cake and frost the middle, top and sides.
Spiced Cream Cheese Icing
Sift 1 cup powdered sugar (it is a slightly sweet frosting) and set it aside. In an electric mixer, beat 10 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter on low speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add 1 pound of softened cream cheese, scraping down sides and blending until smooth between additions. Add ¾ teaspoon of vanilla and blend to incorporate. Slowly add the sifted sugar, beating until smooth. Add 1½ teaspoons cinnamon and ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and mix to combine. Taste, and add more spice if desired.
Autumn-Spiced Pumpkin Shortbread
AUTUMN-SPICED PUMPKIN SHORTBREAD
Nonstick cooking spray
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 to ½ cup canned pumpkin (use ½ cup for a softer shortbread)
2 teaspoons sparkling (large-crystal) sugar or substitute granulated sugar
Butter Pecan Ice Cream
1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Spray bottom of a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine flour, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice and salt in small bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and powdered sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in pumpkin until combined. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
3. Spread dough into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake for 80 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Immediately sprinkle top with sparkling sugar. Cool for about 10 minutes; remove side from pan. Use long, serrated knife to cut into wedges. Serve warm with ice cream.