Category Archives: thanksgiving

Sweetened Condensed Milk Pumpkin Pie

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the recipe development corner of the internet, you know that there are as many different ways to make pumpkin pie as there are stars in the sky.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Pumpkin Pie

Okay, I may be exaggerating, but I’m not kidding when I say there are a *lot* of ways to make this classic Thanksgiving dessert. Until today, there were four on this site alone (1, 2, 3, 4), but now there are five. This one, made with one of my favorite ingredients, sweetened condensed milk, might just be my favorite. For now, at least.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Pumpkin Pie

You see, sweetened condensed milk can do it all. It sweetens, binds, and gives things and smooth, creamy texture. It carries the load in desserts from key lime pie to magic bars to no-churn ice cream. In short, it’s an incredible tool to have in your baking arsenal, especially if you’re in charge of making pie next week.

Sweetened condensed milk helps to sweeten and set this pumpkin pie filling, just like it does in my seasonal Pumpkin Spice Spread. It has the added benefit of cutting the list of ingredients a little shorter, too—a welcome shift anytime of year, but especially at the holidays.

Here, sweetened condensed milk is mixed with all the usual pumpkin pie suspects—a can of pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice, salt, eggs, and a touch of butter—and poured into a par-baked crust before baking. You’ll notice that the oven temperature goes from 350F to 425F and then back to 350F before this pie is done; it seems like a lot, but if followed, I can promise you flaky crust and a perfectly smooth set center.

I like to make Sweetened Condensed Milk Pumpkin Pie a day ahead because I prefer my custard pies cold. That’s not the case for everyone though, so feel free to serve it at room temperature. Whichever you choose, don’t forget the whipped cream.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Pumpkin Pie
Sweetened Condensed Milk Pumpkin Pie
makes 1 pie

For the crust:
1/2 recipe All Butter Pie Dough or other good single crust recipe
pie weights (or dedicated dried beans or rice) for blind baking

Filling:
2 cups pure pumpkin purée (1 15-ounce can)
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not fat free)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

For serving:
whipped cream

On a floured surface, roll out pie dough to a 12" diameter. Fit into a deep 9-inch pie plate and trim the overhang to 1/2-inch. Crimp the edges and freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerate for an hour.

Place an oven rack in the lowest position. Preheat oven to 350F.

Remove pie crust from the freezer. Prick the bottom several times with the tines of a fork. Line frozen crust with a big piece of parchment. Fill the center with pie weights (or dried beans or rice).

Place the prepared pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until pie crust has “set” and is starting to turn golden in places, but is far from done. Use parchment to lift out pie weights. Return crust to the oven for 10 minutes, then set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Whisk in eggs one at a time, followed by sweetened condensed milk and melted butter. Pour pie filling into prepared crust.

Make the egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Brush over exposed crust.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then turn the oven temperature to 350F for an additional 45-50 minutes, covering the crust with foil if it starts to get too brown. The pie is ready when the filling no longer jiggles, or when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Cover and chill, if desired. Serve at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream. Pie will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Cloverleaf Rolls

Once I started making my own dinner rolls and realized what a snap they are, I knew I had to try Cloverleaf Rolls next. They’re so buttery and pretty, and you can peel them apart—they’re a food and an activity!

Cloverleaf Rolls begin with the same dough as my original Fluffy Dinner Rolls. The recipes are identical until after the first rise when the dough is punched down and divided into twelve pieces.

Each piece is further divided into three pieces (or four if you want four leaf Cloverleaf Rolls). Those little pieces are rolled into balls and sorted into a buttered muffin tin three at a time. They’ll rise up and the balls will fuse into “leaves” before baking. This is how they get that perfect peelability, not unlike Monkey Bread.

Cloverleaf Rolls

When the rolls are baked and golden, they get brushed with butter and sprinkled with flaky salt—fancy! Served warm, they’re the perfect addition to any Thanksgiving or holiday spread. I like to make them at random throughout the year as well—surprise Cloverleaf Rolls, anyone?

Cloverleaf Rolls
Cloverleaf Rolls
makes 12 dinner rolls

1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast*
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

For brushing & garnish:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
flaky salt (I used Maldon)

Read the recipe all the way through before beginning. Instructions for using instant yeast and mixing by-hand are in the notes at the end of the recipe.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the buttermilk until it’s between 90-110F (warm to the touch, but not so hot that you can’t comfortably hold a finger in it).

Stir together buttermilk and granulated sugar in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow to sit for 5 minutes or until it is a bit bubbly or foamy (sometimes a light stir can help this be more visible). If it doesn’t bubble, your yeast is dead. Discard the mixture, get new yeast, and try again.

In the bowl of a stand mixer* fitted with a dough hook, combine 2 cups of flour and salt. Add butter and buttermilk mixture and mix to combine. Mix in remaining 3/4 cup flour. Knead dough in mixer* for 5 minutes or until smooth and slightly sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free environment for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, heavily butter (or otherwise grease) a 12-capacity muffin tin. Set aside.

Flour a surface. Uncover risen dough and gently punch it down. Place dough on floured surface and pat out into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Flour a large, sharp chef’s knife and slice the rectangle into 12 pieces.

Shape the rolls. Working with one piece at a time, slice it into 3 equal pieces. Working with one smaller piece at a time, use your fingers to pull edges or creases underneath, creating a smooth ball-like appearance. Place in pan, using 3 balls per muffin cup. Repeat until all rolls have been shaped.

Loosely cover the pan of rolls and place in a warm, draft-free environment for 30-45 minutes or until they have puffed over the top of the pan (see pictures).

Meanwhile, place an oven rack in the central or lower position (either will work). Preheat your oven to 400F. Melt the butter for brushing.

Uncover risen rolls. Use a pastry brush to gently brush the tops with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake rolls for 19-20 minutes, or until deep golden on top. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter when you remove them from the oven. Sprinkle with flaky salt, if desired.

Let rolls cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

Rolls are best the day they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or so.

Notes:
  • You may use an equal volume of instant yeast. Add it (and the sugar) directly to the dry ingredients, skipping the blooming step. Add warmed buttermilk and butter directly to the dry ingredients and mix as written above in the paragraph beginning “In the bowl of a stand mixer.” The rises may take about 15 minutes longer than with active dry yeast.
  • You may mix this dough in a large mixing bowl with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.
  • You may knead this dough by hand on a floured surface.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake {Seven Year Anniversary}

In years past, I might have gone with a flashier recipe to celebrate seven years of this blog, but this year I’m keeping it low key and doing what comes naturally. I’m just glad to be here.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

I’ve been open about needing a break this past summer. Though the baking never stopped, I’m very much getting back into the swing of posting. I am currently writing to you on a Friday afternoon from the New York City subway—it’s not the first time and certainly not the last. E2 Bakes has always been a little bit of a patchwork. A little time here, a little time there. Late nights, early mornings, set baking hours with a little wiggle room, writing content on public transit between appointments—it all makes this place function.

Of all of that, the baking and recipe testing is obviously the most important. I need to spend time making the things that I want to make not just because it’s enjoyable for me, but because those things are just better. See exhibits A, B & C of many (many, many). I am not one of those who thinks being “made with love” is crucial for success (I have made plenty of delicious things while absolutely furious), but it sure doesn’t hurt.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

This Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake was made with joy, on the fly, in pajamas, on a Monday morning in my kitchen. I didn’t shop for any specific ingredients or make a plan; I just saw what I had (a fridge drawer full of apples) and went from there. It was, to be frank, my ideal baking situation.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

The cake itself is the slightest variation on the summery Peach Upside-Down Cake I made in 2020, but updated for fall with a little more comforting spice. It’s a simple torte batter poured over a mix of brown sugar, butter, and sliced apples that bakes up to tender butterscotch-edged perfection.

There are certainly prettier ways to arrange your apples for this cake, and I know that the finished product could benefit from a drizzle of caramel and a scoop of ice cream, but I like it like this. Thrown together for the fun of it, photographed without a plan, eaten warm before noon on a weekday. It feels authentic, which is exactly how I hope this space comes across.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

Thank you for being here and for supporting this little project of mine for so long. It means the world. I hope we bake together for many years to come.

Happy birthday, E2 Bakes.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​
Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

For the apples:
2 large baking apples (I used Granny Smith & Pink Lady)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For serving (optional):
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside.

Slice apples in 1/4-inch slices. No need to peel. Discard cores.

In a small saucepan, combine butter and dark brown sugar. Place over medium-low heat and stir constantly until butter and sugar are melted and fully homogeneous, 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Pour mixture into a 9-inch round cake pan, using a silicone spatula to spread it over the entire bottom of the pan.

Top the brown sugar mixture with single layer of sliced apples, slightly overlapping them for the prettiest effect, in any design you like. Set aside.

In a small-medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until very light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in granulated sugar and light brown sugars. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, mix in dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.

Drop batter in spoonfuls over the peaches. Use an offset icing knife or the back of a spoon to spread it in an even layer. Tap the pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter).

Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge a couple of times. Place a cake stand or large serving plate upside down over the top of the pan. Holding on to the plate and pan with oven mitts, quickly invert them so that the plate is right-side-up and the pan is now upside-down. Tap the top of the pan a time or two to help the cake release. Lift off the empty pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan, just nudge it back onto the cake with your fingers or a spoon.

Serve cake warm, room temperature, or cold, with ice cream, if desired.

Cake is best the day it's baked, but will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails

I never know what to post the week of Thanksgiving, but I think going with something easy that you can make anytime between now and the New Year is a good place to start.

This Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup certainly fits that bill, clocking in with almost no active work, but plenty of vibrant color and sweet-tart flavor. It starts the way all simple syrups do: with sugar and water. While the classic proportion is 1:1, I upped the water here to accommodate the cranberries’ natural thickening agent (pectin)—we’re after syrup here, not jelly!

The berries, water and sugar are simmered together for just ten minutes, until the fruit begins to burst. Once that happens, remove the pot from the heat and use a fork or potato masher to mash all the berries into the liquid. Resist the urge to strain your syrup right away, instead letting the mashed berries hang out in it while it’s cooling. This imbues the syrup with plenty of tart cranberry flavor and vivid color. Once the half hour is up, strain and cool your syrup, then use it however you like. I bet a little over ice cream would be a treat, but I am focusing on mocktails today.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

Let’s talk about these Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails. With their ruby color and booze-free fizz, these are a perfect beverage for any end-of-year occasion. They’re not terribly sugary, and taste intentional and not like an afterthought or just a virgin version of some classic cocktail. They taste like they have some intention behind them, if you will—they’re complete on their own.

The list of ingredients for Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails is blessedly short, and besides the homemade Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup, everything is readily available at the grocery store.

The recipe is simple: 1 part Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup, 2 parts ginger beer, 2 parts seltzer, 1/2 part fresh lime juice. I’ve written the recipe in “parts” rather than specific volumes so that you can make enough for two or for a crowd without doing too much math. Simply stir the ingredients together and serve over ice with cranberries and lime wedges for garnish. So cute, right? Wait til you try one—so good.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

My absolute favorite thing about these mocktails? They’re not too sweet. There is some sweetness, of course, from the syrup and zippy ginger beer, but it’s balanced by the lime juice and diluted with seltzer in the best possible way. They taste like they were made for grown-ups because they were. How refreshing.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

I’m taking the rest of this week off to spend time with my family. I’ll be back next week with new Christmas recipes. Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup
makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 10-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through

Add all ingredients to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes or until berries have burst. Skim off and discard any foam that accumulates. Remove pot from heat, then mash burst berries with a potato masher or fork. Let berries sit in syrup for 30 minutes.

Place a sieve over a large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to press the syrup through the sieve. Discard the the leftover fruit solids or use for another purpose.

Transfer syrup to a container with a lid. Let cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails

1 part cranberry syrup
2 parts ginger beer
2 parts seltzer
1/2 part lime juice
ice
fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
lime wedges, for garnish (optional)

I measured in tablespoons for each glass, but feel free to use a larger units of measure to make a pitcher of mocktails.

In a liquid measuring cup or other vessel, stir together cranberry syrup, ginger beer, seltzer and lime juice.

Add ice to glasses. Pour mocktail mixture over the top and garnish with cranberries and lime, if desired. Serve immediately.

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie

Hey there! I put all my Thanksgiving recipes on their own page for maximum convenience. Just click the menu at the top of the page and then go to “Thanksgiving Recipes.”

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie​

It’s funny how recipes sometimes just hit me out of nowhere. Like this past September I was in Maine making Vegan Chocolate Pudding for dessert, and I accidentally made it just a little too stiff. While it worked for a no-frills vacation treat, I knew that I needed to make adjustments for a better pudding consistency, but I also knew I had just made a perfect Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie filling.

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie​

And I do mean perfect. Sliceable, but not bouncy. Rich and chocolaty, but completely devoid of dairy and eggs. I had a vision of it sitting in a chocolate cookie crust with a whisper of vegan whipped cream on top, and two months later, here we are.

As with my traditional Chocolate Cream Pie, this vegan version is nearly no-bake and very simple to make. The crust is just crushed Oreos (I used gluten-free) and vegan butter that are mixed together and baked just to set. The filling is made by whisking things together in a certain order, as all pudding is. No need to sieve this one though—no eggs means no worrying about solids! To assemble, just pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate until very, very cold.

Oh yes, this cold, creamy crowd pleaser of a pie is an all-out winner. I mean, who doesn’t love delicious Chocolate Cream Pie and food everyone can eat and enjoy? Dessert and inclusivity are two of my favorite things!

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie​

Before serving, top the pie with some vegan whipped cream! I went with an easy coconut cream-based recipe by Minimalist Baker, and it’s outrageously good. If you’re not up to making your own vegan whipped cream, Reddi Wip makes a good coconut whipped cream in a can that you can find in most grocery stores. Just put a little on each slice immediately before serving (and then spray the rest in your mouth because you’re a grown-up and you can).

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie​

Speaking of slices, can we discuss how beautiful this is? Defined layers! Gorgeous chocolaty filling! And it’s gluten-free and vegan? I think it’s safe to say we have a Thanksgiving showstopper on our hands.

Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie​
Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie
makes 1 pie

Crust:
24 regular or gluten-free Oreos (original or Double Stuf)
5 tablespoons vegan butter, melted

Filling:
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon vegan butter

Topping:
Vegan Whipped Cream (I made it with Thai Kitchen Coconut Cream)
finely chopped dark chocolate

Make the crust. Place Oreos in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture can be pinched together. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate (I find that a 1/4 cup measuring cup works for this). Bake the crust for 10 minutes and then let it cool for 20 (or until you can handle the pie plate).

Make the filling. In a medium pot, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in half the non-dairy milk, followed by the remainder.

Place pot over medium heat. Whisking continuously throughout cooking, cook pudding until it has boiled for 1 minute. This process should take 8-10 minutes from start to finish.

Pour filling into the crust. Tap the full pan on the counter a few times to release large bubbles. Press plastic wrap to the surface. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, until cold.

When ready to serve pudding, peel off and discard plastic wrap. Top with vegan whipped cream of choice and finish with chopped dark chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to slice and serve.

Leftover pie will keep covered in the fridge for 3-4 days.