A Young Wife's Guide to Thanksgiving: Desserts

Friday, November 13, 2015

As you already know, I'm a Thanksgiving purist and love my classics. So pumpkin and pecan pie MUST be available to guests at a Strader Thanksgiving. It's a personal preference, but it's one I'm passionate about. Yum. I'm getting hungry just writing about pumpkin pie.

On Pie Crusts:
I've always found it super simple to make them from scratch, using a family recipe I'll include below..but last year I had a terrible cold on the few days leading up to Thanksgiving and I had to leave a lot to Ben. He did excellent, he's a great cook.. but when it came time to pie crusts I said "let's just get pilsbury!" this really surprised my sweet husband and he affirmed me that he would be happy to roll them out.. but flouring the counters again just seemed like too much of a hassle to me. I was actually really surprised at how good the frozen pie crusts were. SO if you want to make your own, do it to it, and if not.... then also do it to it. :)

Pie Crust
(while writing this post I realized that The Pioneer Woman's recipe is almost the same as our Granny's.. only hers has more detailed instructions. I've included those instead!)

1-1/2 cup Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 whole Egg
5 Tablespoons Cold Water
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Separate the dough into thirds. ***Note: Separating it into thirds will result in three thin crusts. If you prefer a more substantial crust, separate it in half.*** Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

Pumpkin Pie
via Style Me Pretty

Pie pastry for a single crust
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon ginger
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

Preheat the oven to 375.
Remove pumpkin stem and cut in half with a serrated knife. Scoop out seeds and pulp from the center.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and add ½ cup water to pan. Place pumpkin halves face down and bake for 55 minutes until fork tender.
Let pumpkin cool, remove to line the pie pan and trim excess to the rim of the pan. Pierce the bottom of the crust several times with a fork and chill in refrigerator.
Roll out excess scrap dough and use piecrust cutters to stamp out 30-35 leaves. Using an egg wash (1 yolk + 2 TBS water), adhere leaves around the perimeter of the crust.
Line piecrust with foil and add pie weights (dried beans or pennies also work well). Pre-bake the crust for 20 minutes, then remove foil and weights and continue baking for 10 minutes. If leaves
start browning too quickly, loosely cover with foil.
Cool on a wire rack.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
Mix in pumpkin puree and eggs, and slowly add milk.
When mixture is smooth, pour into the pre-baked pie shell.
Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes. The center of the pie should appear to be wobbly, but will continue cooking through once removed from oven.

Pecan Pie
via The Pioneer Woman

1 whole Unbaked Pie Crust (I Use "sylvia's Perfect Pie Crust" Recipe
1 cup White Sugar
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Corn Syrup
3/4 teaspoons Vanilla
1/3 cup Melted Butter (salted)
3 whole Eggs, Beaten
1 cup (heaping) Chopped Pecans

Mix sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl.
Pour chopped pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.
Pour syrup mixture over the top. Cover top and crust lightly/gently with foil. Bake pie at 350ยบ for 30 minutes. Remove foil, then continue baking for 20 minutes, being careful not to burn the crust or pecans.
NOTE: PIE SHOULD NOT BE OVERLY JIGGLY WHEN YOU REMOVE IT FROM THE OVEN. If it shakes a lot, cover with foil and bake for an additional 20 minute or until set. Required baking time seems to vary widely with this recipe. Sometimes it takes 50 minutes; sometimes it takes 75!
Allow to cool for several hours or overnight. Serve in thin slivers.

Note: this is the recipe that I once forgot all of the sugar. That makes me be more inclined to use half a cup instead of a full cup but follow your heart. :)

And here's my by far most popular dessert of all Thanksgiving history.... FUDGE. What? I know. Random. I love Life in Grace's recipes. This seasoned mama has tons of tips for around the kitchen, I had never made fudge before so I thought I'd try her recipe. Having tiny bite size pieces ended up being the HIT of our day. The batch made a TON of fudge from what I remember. Yum.

Grannie's Old Fashioned Fudge 
(via Life In Grace)

2 sticks of butter
6 cups white sugar
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 7 oz container marshmallow cream
2 t. good vanilla extract
18 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease a 10x15 jelly roll pan.
Combine butter, sugar and evaporated milk into a dutch oven or other heavy duty (deep) pot.
Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 6 minutes.
Remove from heat and add marshmallow cream and chocolate chips.
Stir until it begins to thicken and then add the vanilla.
Stir until it no longer pours from the spoon and spead into greased pan.

The first year I made this pie, I forgot ALL the sugar. Literally didn't put sugar in it. Ben took the pie to work and no one noticed or cared which says scary things about American cooking. Because of this, I often cut out a lot of the sugar in my pecan pie.

I've also tried.. Carmel Apple Pie. I loved it, but I don't think anyone else actually tried it when I made it. Boo people sticking with their classics. Haha!

Happy Dessert Making! The fun part! :) Remember, pies are another great candidate for make ahead and freeze! Or just make ahead and refrigerate if you're within close time! :)


  1. This post is my favorite so far! Austen smokes a turkey breast for Thanksgiving, and sides are something I've always been good at, but desserts are my thing. I've been looking for a better pie crust recipe and am totally trying your granny's this holiday season! And fudge?! YES.


  2. Pies are not family favorites in our house, so we always go cheesecakes. :)

  3. I'm loving this series! I also love how you styled your dessert table :)
    Sarah at MeetTheShaneyfelts

  4. Awesome! These are great tips - and again, such a great idea for a series! :)


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