Category Archives: thanksgiving

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan PieI am all about this Chocolate Pecan Pie right now. I am into it. So into it, in fact, that I thought about it for a year and a half before I actually made it, and then I made it six times. Six times!Chocolate Pecan PieSome recipes take two or three tries. Some I even get on the first go. Both of this week’s took six rounds. What does that say about me? I don’t know, except that there has been A LOT of pie in my apartment lately.

(Not a bad thing.)

(Also, please come over for pie.)Chocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan Pie, y’all. It’s rich and fudgy and studded with toasted pecans—the sort of dessert that haunts my dreams. But the good kind of haunting. The kind where I get to eat pie.Chocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan PieBut I digress. The filling here is somewhere between traditional pecan pie, chocolate pie, and brownies. It’s soft, deeply chocolaty, and dense but somehow not heavy…and that’s to say nothing of the bevy of naturally caramelly pecans strewn throughout. Add to that that it’s all wrapped up in flaky All-Butter Pie Dough and…best pie ever?!Chocolate Pecan PieI cannot overstate how delicious this is, with or without whipped cream and shaved chocolate. It’s a guaranteed Turkey Day slam dunk! I mean, it’s also a slam dunk when you’re hovering over it at 1am on a random Tuesday, evening out edges and eating it with your fingers like a wild animal, but I somehow think your guests will prefer the former.Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie
makes one 9-inch standard pie

2 cups pecan halves, chopped + more for topping
1 unbaked pie crust (I used 1/2 recipe All-Butter Pie Dough)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup light corn syrup (or golden syrup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Egg wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

For serving:
whipped cream
shaved bittersweet chocolate

Place the oven rack in the bottom-third position. Preheat oven to 400F.

Scatter chopped pecans on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn.

On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. Fit in pie plate. Cut excess to 1/2-inch, and crimp as desired. Chill pie crust.

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, light brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until combined. Mix in corn syrup and vanilla.

Combine bittersweet chocolate and butter a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Allow to cool 2-3 minutes just so it’s not screaming hot.

Whisking constantly, add chocolate mixture to egg mixture.

Remove pie plate from the refrigerator and place it on top of a rimmed baking sheet (for ease of removal from the oven). Place chopped pecans in the bottom of the pie crust. Pour chocolate filling over the top. Scatter more pecan halves over the top, if desired.

Make egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork. Brush mixture over exposed crust.

Bake pie 15 minutes. Turn down the heat to 350F and continue to bake 30-40 minutes, loosely tenting with foil at the 15 minute mark. Pie is done when the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Chocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan Pie

All-Butter Pie Dough

All-Butter Pie DoughSince the very beginning of this blog, I have sung the praises of my Cream Cheese Pie Dough. It’s easy to mix together (no guess work!), rolls without tearing, has a croissant-like flakiness, and is super delicious. I will stand by it forever and ever, amen.

So, if I love it sooo much—and I do—why on earth am I giving you another pie dough recipe? Because I don’t always have a brick of cream cheese sitting around when I’m in a pie-making mood. It’s that simple. That doesn’t mean I’m going to subject myself to subpar pie crust though. No way. Crisp, flaky, and buttery or bust!All-Butter Pie DoughI’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not reinventing the wheel with this crust. There are a gazillion all-butter pie doughs out there and nearly all of them have similar proportions and instructions, which makes it all the more surprising that I had to test this recipe six times to get it exactly how I want it.All-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie Dough requires just six ingredients. Six! You probably have all of them in your kitchen right now.

  • Cold butter. Pockets of cold fat are the secret to a flaky crust. As they melt in the oven, their water content turns to steam and form the layers we all love so much. Some bakers use shortening or lard (or cream cheese!) as their fat of choice, but since this is All-Butter Pie Dough, we’re using all butter, duh. I like to cut mine into cubes ahead of time and then freeze it until I add it to the dry ingredients. It’ll get cut into the dough just until it’s the size of small peas. This means there will be visible chunks of butter in your pie dough at all stages, even when it’s rolled out. If at any point in the process your butter feels soft/warm/sticky/otherwise-not-cold, throw the dough back in the fridge. Unless you like tough crust, that is.
  • Cold water. Cold. Cuh-old. Water is the binder in this pie dough recipe. It has to be freezing cold because if we add room temperature or—heaven forbid—warm water to the dough, we can kiss that cold butter and flaky crust goodbye. I like to measure out 2/3 cup of cold water and then add ice cubes to keep it that way. Also, don’t get heavy-handed—you probably won’t need all the water in your measuring cup. You want to add just enough for the dough to hold together. Any more than that and the gluten in the flour may become overdeveloped and yield a tough crust.All-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie Dough
  • Apple cider vinegar. This is the one “unusual” ingredient you’ll find in this recipe, but I’m far from the first baker to put vinegar in pie dough. It helps mitigate gluten development (buying you an extra stir or knead) to produce a more tender crust, the same way that adding buttermilk (also an acid) to cakes/biscuits/what-have-you helps make them tender.All-Butter Pie Dough
  • Sugar and salt. These add flavor and balance to our crust. Without them, why bother making pie dough at all?! You may be tempted to leave out the sugar, especially in savory applications, but I recommend keeping it. The small amount of sugar in this dough caramelizes during baking, helping to produce a golden brown crust.
  • All-Purpose Flour. This is the structural foundation of pie dough (and sooo many other things). Make sure you measure it properly (spoon & level) so that you don’t use too much or too little.All-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie Dough

See, six ingredients, each with a job of its own. You’re a bowl, a hand blender, and fifteen minutes away from having two disks of pie dough in your fridge. #scoreAll-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie DoughIf pie dough makes you jittery or this is your first year making it from scratch, never fear! All-Butter Pie Dough is very simple to make. Once you’ve made your first batch, you’ll wonder what you were ever afraid of…but just in case you need a little extra encouragement, here are some of my best pie dough tips.

  • Make it by hand. There are now three pie dough recipes on this site, and not one of them is made in a food processor. I know it’s supposed to be faster and easier that way, but it also involves more clean up and requires you to give up control of the butter. It’s not always easy to get visible chunks of butter in a food processor, but it is when you are cutting it in by hand. Dough made by hand = visible butter = flaky crust!
  • When in doubt, throw it in the fridge. This is the solution to almost all your pie crust problems. Butter seems sticky? Throw it in the fridge. Dough seems a little soft? Throw it in the fridge. Fitted the dough to the pie plate and filled it, but have some time before the oven will be warm? Throw it in the fridge. Worried about the crimp holding? Throw it it in the fridge. Say it with me: Throw. It. In. The. Fridge.All-Butter Pie Dough
  • Take your time. You can make pie dough three days before you make pie and keep it in the refrigerator—no need to do everything on the same day. You can even freeze this pie dough! Just triple-wrap in plastic and throw it in the freezer for up to six months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before rolling.
  • Don’t fret if it’s not perfect. Pie takes time. Pie takes practice. I have made a lot of pies in the last six years and many of them have been hideous. Many, many. But you know what? Ugly pie is still pie. As one of my favorite bloggers, Julie Van Rosendaal, says “The best pie is the one on your table.”All-Butter Pie Dough

Wooooow so many bullet points today. Pie, y’all! It’s happening. Look out Friday for my first pie recipe of the season. Or go into my Recipe Index and make yourself this tart Cranberry Crumb Pie. I know we still have 22 days til Thanksgiving, but I mean…it’s practice, right?All-Butter Pie Dough

All-Butter Pie Dough
makes 2 crusts

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
~2/3 cup water, very cold
ice cubes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Cut butter into cubes. Put it on a plate and freeze it while you prepare the other ingredients.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add cold water up to the 2/3 cup mark. Add a few ice cubes. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter and use a pastry blender to cut it in until the largest pieces are the size of small peas.

Using a finger to block ice cubes, pour 1/2 cup water/vinegar mixture into the bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir just until everything is moistened. Add more liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until clumps begin to form and dough holds together well when pinched. You will likely have some liquid leftover.

Give dough a couple of quick kneads to help it come together. There may be some dry unincorporated bits at the bottom of the bowl—this is normal.

Divide dough into two equal pieces and fork into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unwrap one disk of dough. Use rolling pin to roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness (about 14 inches in diameter for a 9-inch pie plate). For easiest rolling, roll dough in one direction, turning it one quarter turn after each roll. Re-flour surface and rolling pin as needed.

To transfer to a pie plate, carefully fold dough into quarters. Place point in the center of the pie plate and carefully unfold. Fit it to the pan, trim any excess overhang to 1-inch and crimp.

Proceed with your pie recipe as written.All-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie DoughAll-Butter Pie Dough

Pear Pastry Braid

Pear Pastry BraidIt’s almost time for pie. Almost.

Yes, I know it’s November now, but I can’t just switch from Popcorn Balls to Pumpkin Pie on a dime. And truthfully, I’ve been concentrating too hard on the World Series and anticipating the new Scorsese film this week to fully get down to business with Thanksgiving. Rest assured though that the pies are coming. Sides, too! But first, this Pear Pastry Braid.Pear Pastry BraidI mean, do you see this beautiful thing? Is it brunch food? Is it dessert? I don’t know. I don’t make the rules. I just make the pastry.Pear Pastry BraidAnd oh, is this a good one. Pear Pastry Braid is super buttery and filled with tender pears that have been tossed with ginger, lemon, and a few tablespoons of sugar. Yum!Pear Pastry BraidDon’t let these glamour shots deceive you–it’s surprisingly easy to make. Simply roll out a sheet of rough puff pastry (or the frozen thawed all-butter stuff), make a bunch of diagonal cuts down both long sides and fill the center with sliced pear filling.Pear Pastry BraidPear Pastry BraidAlternating sides, carefully cover the filling with overlapping strips of dough, producing a braid-like appearance. Give it a brush of egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar, and then let it bake til golden.Pear Pastry BraidSounds like a lot, but the time from when you start peeling pears to when you pull the finished pastry out of the oven is less than an hour. It can be sliced and served warm too, meaning that you don’t have to plan crazy far in advance (especially if you already have the pastry dough in the fridge). There’s so much planning around food this time of year that it’s kind of nice to have something you can make when the mood strikes or when someone says they’re going to pop by.Pear Pastry BraidYou know what else is nice? Eating a slice of sweet, flaky Pear Pastry Braid in your pajamas on a Saturday morning. Or a Saturday night. Or both.

What?! I don’t make the rules. I just make the pastry.Pear Pastry Braid

Pear Pastry Braid
makes 1 braid, about 6 servings

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

Pear Filling:
4 medium firm-ripe pears
5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

Make Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the pear filling. Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler. Working with one pear at a time, use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim off both ends. Slice down through the stem end to halve the pear lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice the pear as thinly as you can.

Place sliced pear pieces in a medium mixing bowl. Toss with 4 tablespoons sugar, ground ginger, salt, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.

Assemble the pastry braid. Flour a rolling pin. Unfold dough on the prepared pan. Roll dough out to 12×16-inch rectangle. Orient the pan/rectangle so that the side nearest you is a short side.

Carefully dust the edge of a sharp knife with flour. Cut off two small corners of dough on the edge furthest from you. Leaving a 4×16-inch space in the center for the filling, cut 1-inch diagonal strips strips down both sides of the pastry, as pictured in the post.

Fill the pastry braid. Leaving 1/2-inch of space at each short end, mound pear filling along the center (intact) section of dough. Make sure to leave any accumulated liquid behind in the bowl. Dot filling with butter.

“Braid” the dough. Starting at the edge furthest from you, take a strip of dough and carefully lay it across the filling. Then grab a strip of dough from the right side and carefully lay it over the filling so that it is overlapping the first strip. Continue doing this, alternating left and right until you reach the end of the braid. Fold the short edges up slightly to seal.

Make the egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork.

Paint egg wash over all exposed pastry. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake pastry braid for 25-30 minutes, or until pastry is golden and pears are tender.

Let pastry braid cool on its pan on a rack. When you can handle it (I could at 30 minutes, although it was still warm), very carefully slip your hands palm-side-up under the pastry and quickly lift it onto a large cutting board or serving tray. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice it into pieces. Serve immediately.

Pear Pastry Braid is best the day it is made.

Note:

You may use frozen all-butter puff pastry instead. Thaw according to package directions and begin the recipe at the paragraph that begins “Make the pear filling.”Pear Pastry BraidPear Pastry BraidPear Pastry Braid

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}Some foods are easier to photograph than others and…well…baked oatmeal is an “other.” It just is.

It doesn’t matter what I do to it or how good the light is, baked oatmeal is simply difficult to make into a beauty queen. It’s never going to be the belle of the ball. It’s oatmeal, after all. <—hey, that rhymes! Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}That said, what baked oatmeal lacks in aesthetic appeal (dull brown and lumpy 😬😬) it more than makes up in delicious whole grain flavor. This one is especially enticing—it’s made with a hefty scoop of pure pumpkin purée and big hit of pumpkin pie spice for maximum seasonal breakfast magic.Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}It’s also very easy to make. The most difficult (if you can even call it that) step is toasting the oats, and that requires little to no actual brain power. Just scatter the oats onto a pan, put them in the oven, and set a timer. Boom. Done.

The rest of the process is simply adding dry ingredients (oats, pie spice, baking powder, salt) to wet (pumpkin purée, brown sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, milk). Whisk ‘em together, pour the mixture into a greased pie plate and bake just until the center is set. Then just scoop it into bowls, adorn as desired and serve. Really, it couldn’t be easier.Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}My favorite thing about Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal? It reheats like a dream! This, in addition to being filling and fairly good for you, makes it perfect for weekday breakfasts. Just heat individual portions as needed and enjoy.Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}Of course, it’s also a great low-maintenance-but-still-“special” thing to make on the weekends. And I wouldn’t be disappointed to see it over the holidays.

Versatility, y’all. It’s a beautiful thing.Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
makes about 6 servings

2 cups old-fashioned oats (certified gluten-free for gluten-free)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups milk of choice

For serving:
maple syrup
butter
plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a deep 9-inch pie plate or other casserole dish. Set aside.

Place oats on a dry rimmed baking sheet (or other large pan) and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool a few minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and stir in pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée and light brown sugar. Whisk in eggs one at a time, followed by oil, vanilla, and milk. Mix in oat mixture.

Pour mixture into the prepared pie plate. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes, or until the center is lightly set.

Let oatmeal cool for at least 15 minutes before serving with maple syrup, butter, and/or yogurt. Oatmeal is best warm or at room temperature.

Leftover oatmeal will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It reheats well in the microwave. Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal {Gluten-Free}

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Apple Cider Cranberry SauceMy mother makes the best cranberry sauce in the world, but that’s not the recipe I’m sharing today.* Sorry to disappoint.

*Just kidding! I wrote her original recipe in the notes at the end. It’s a Thanksgiving two-fer 🙂 Apple Cider Cranberry SauceI have a good reason for holding out on you. My mom’s cranberry sauce is made with a large amount of brandy, which gets cooked off over the course of an hour in the oven. As I have mentioned previously though, I cannot safely consume alcohol, and therefore do not keep it around, even for cooking.

Since I quit drinking five and a half years ago, cranberry sauce is one of the only dishes that I have really missed. I’ve found work-arounds or substitutes for all sorts of other recipes, but I just couldn’t find one that hit all the same buttons as my mom’s.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceIn case you’re wondering, those buttons include:

  • It’s gotta be whole berry. No weird can-shaped cranberry jello here.
  • It can’t have more than three ingredients. I’ve had cranberry sauces with nuts and spices and other fruits and all sorts of other silliness, and all of it was completely unnecessary.
  • It shouldn’t have any citrus. Orange and cranberry are complementary flavors, but I can’t stand them together in cranberry sauce. This is more of a personal preference than anything, but I mean, this is my personal food blog.
  • It can’t be too sweet. I hate when cranberries are so over-sweetened that their natural tartness is completely masked.
  • It has to be easy. Like ridiculously easy. So low-maintenance, it’s silly. And if it can be made more than a day ahead, that’s ideal.
  • If nothing else, it must be so delicious that I want to eat it every time I spot the jar in the fridge.

Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceIt’s taken a few years and many sauces with unrecognizable berries, too much sugar, flavors I didn’t care for, and a lot of feeling sorry for myself, but I’ve finally made a cranberry sauce that hits all those buttons. And the missing ingredient was looking at me the whole time in the form of a seasonal fridge staple: apple cider. It has flavor, but not enough to overwhelm the cranberries, and it’s sweet without being saccharine. Perfection.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceThis sauce comes together over the course of an hour in the oven. It gets stirred twice, but needs no help otherwise.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceThe result is soft, bursting berries that slump into a sweet, sticky sauce. It’s just divine. As is the fact that it can be made today and nuked in the microwave just before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, it’s probably even better that way. Love that.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Want more cranberries? See here and here. For more apple cider, see here and here.

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce*
makes about 3 cups

2 12-ounce bags whole cranberries
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine all ingredients in a 9×13-inch casserole dish and stir together. Bake 60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.

Remove sauce from oven. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a serving dish. Serve.

Cranberry sauce may be made up to two days in advance; it reheats well in the microwave.

Note:

If you want to try my mom’s cranberry sauce, swap the cider for brandy and double the sugar. Everything else is the same.
Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry Sauce