Home » Recipes » Desserts » Thanksgiving for All (+ Dessert Recipes)

Thanksgiving for All (+ Dessert Recipes)

A naturally flourless whole grain crust bolsters a creamy pumpkin pie filling that demands a place at the Thanksgiving table. Plus a few recipes for naturally flourless pumpkin desserts and notes on cooking holiday meals for those with unique diets.

When the holidays loom there’s often a bit of trepidation on the part of the host when faced with diners who may have particular dietary needs. If you’re like me and you don’t want to ask your lovely guests to bring their own food — or resign them to ‘just fill up on sides!’ — you’ll want to branch out a bit and seek recipes that ensure everyone leaves the table wholly satisfied.

I wrote an story for NPR a few years ago about the gluten-free (and vegan) holiday table and have written extensively here and there about vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving as well as Thanksgiving (and/or Christmas if you celebrate) on the lighter side. In my own smallish family there’s a vegetarian, someone who eats low fat/low cholesterol, and someone who keeps gluten-free. When I’m cooking Thanksgiving I like to make sure there’s a lot of vegetables prepared simply and healthfully, a hearty main course vegetarian dish (often vegan) that all who are gathered round can enjoy, and most likely a turkey served with vegetarian (and perhaps gluten-free) gravy and vegetable-cornbread stuffing that’s quick as anything to make gluten-free. I find it easy and also enjoyable to cook with an eye towards accommodating all but I also know it can be daunting. With that in mind I’m going to share some links, thoughts, and recipes in the run-up to the Thanksgiving holiday in hopes of helping make your meal preparations less about stress and more about enjoying the day and your company.

Because why save the best for last, I’ll start things off with dessert. Specifically, a recipe for gluten-free pumpkin pie.

[She liked it.]

I adapted this recipe from Alice Waters’ ‘The Art of Simple Food’ and as is my preference I used heavy cream (or what approximation of that I can get here) instead of evaporated milk in the filling. The crust turned out to be amazingly flaky and light despite its lack of gluten – the secret is in the chilling and the blind baking – and in truth it’s one of the best crusts I’ve made gluten or no gluten. I will note that is it not grain-free nor dairy free but there are a few simple substitutions you can make if needed (details below). The combination of oat flour, brown rice flour, and ground almonds plus plenty of butter and ice-cold water create a melting, perfectly crisp and flaky crust that could be used as the base for an open-faced apple pie, a galette, or a tarte tatin. I will mention that gluten-free/flourless crusts are a tad more finicky than their gluten counterparts and I do a mix of roll and press of the crust into the pie pan in order to make it work. I haven’t tried a double crust pie but I think it would be doable if a bit trickier to get that top layer just right.

I’m also including a few recipes here for vegan and flourless pumpkin custard as well as an adaption of my beloved pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, a plate of which I like to have close by in the kitchen as I do my Thanksgiving cooking. The holiday has crept up on me this year and I’m still wrapping my mind around that it’s occurring next week. Though there’s a decided chill in the air here at last it by no means really feels like fall and/or like winter is fast approaching. And there’s a peculiar strangeness to celebrating a very traditional American holiday when you’re not in America; to everyone around you of course it’s just an ordinary Thursday. Nonetheless, there are persimmons in the market and pumpkins and butternut squash on my counter and sweet potatoes cozying up to apples and pears in the fridge so at least my kitchen knows what’s going on.

If you want to branch out beyond pumpkin, try this delicate and delectable flourless apple tart. A chocolate cream pie might not be refused if it graces your desserts sideboard. There’s also a pretty, crustless cheesecake with lemon curd, or baked maple apples, or an Indian pudding, or a fall fruit crisp from my cookbook that might appeal if you’re looking for something a bit less traditional but still fall-appropriate.

To whet your appetite and get the wheels of inspiration turning, a few posts on Vegetarian Thanksgivings past:

Appetizers: sweet potato dip and cranberry margaritas for the gluten-free set, plus sweet potato biscuits and phyllo-vegetable parcels for those who can partake.

Vegetable accompaniments: potage Jacqueline (sweet potato soup), pumpkin-leek soup, vegan cornbread (swap one cup brown rice flour for the AP flour in the recipe), potato and celery root mash …

Main dishes: If you need to, substitute two tablespoons brown rice flour for the all-purpose in the gratin recipe and you’ll be good to go.

Next week I’ll share a few more flourless/vegan/vegetarian recipes for bits and bites, but I wanted to get these desserts out today because, well, you can never start thinking about dessert too early. Happy holidaying wherever you are and however you celebrate.

[print_this] {Flourless} Pumpkin Pie, inspired by ‘The Art of Simple Cooking’ by Alice Waters

Note: to make dairy free, substitute 1 cup full-fat coconut milk for the heavy cream and use a vegan margarine or oil of choice in the crust. You’ll have an undertone of coconut milk, of course, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Or try plain unsweetened soy or almond milk – the pie won’t be as rich-tasting but the substitution should work just fine in a 1:1 ratio.

Makes 10 servings.

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour (from about 3/4 cup gluten-free oats)
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
1 teaspoon ground flax seeds (optional, to help as a binder)
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup ice water

1 cup cream, divided
2 teaspoons brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch fresh-ground black pepper

Make crust:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, flax seeds if using, sugar, and salt. Cut and/or work the butter into the flours with a pastry cutter or your hands until the dough is chunky and thick with butter. Pour in 3/4 of the water, stirring continuously with a fork until the dough begins to form clumps. Add more water if necessary.

Bring the dough together into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Gently compress and flatten each ball (but not too much; just enough to flatten it out a bit). Let rest in the fridge for one hour.

Then very gently roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle (if you can). Place in a 9-inch pie pan, patting and pushing the dough if necessary to make it even all the way around. Crimp edges. Refrigerate pastry for at least one hour.

Heat oven to 375 F. Prick bottom of pie shell all over with a fork. Line the shell with a piece of foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights (dried beans/etc.). Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, or lightly golden around the edge. Take the tart from the oven and remove the weights and foil. Return to the oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Make filling:
In a small saucepan, whisk together 1/4 cup of the cream and the brown rice flour. Heat over low heat until it comes to a boil and thickens. Slowly whisk in the remaining 3/4 cup of cream and continue whisking until the mixture returns to a boil. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, raw sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt, and pinch of black pepper. Add the cream mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir well to combine.

Pour into the pie shell and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the center is almost set. If the edges are browning too quickly, fit a ring of foil around the rim.

Remove from oven and let pie cool completely on a wire rack before serving.


[print_this]{Vegan/Flourless} Pumpkin Custards

This recipe is right up my alley — no eggs and with coconut milk to make up its lovely, creamy base.

Makes 4 servings.

15 oz. pumpkin puree, from a can or freshly made
1 cup full-fat coconut milk, divided
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Oven to 350 degrees F.

Place 4 lightly greased ramekins in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Fill pan with approximately 1 inch of water. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/4 cup coconut milk and cornstarch, making sure there are no lumps.

In a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 3/4 cup coconut milk and brown sugar, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a slow boil.

Add the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until fully incorporated and mixture is thick. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine coconut milk mixture, pureed pumpkin, maple syrup, spices, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

Transfer filling to individual ramekins, place in oven, and bake for 50 minutes or until filling has solidified. [/print_this]

[print_this]Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve been making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for years, and always brought a bag of them with me when I cooked Thanksgiving in Inverness. If the weather was fair, we’d go to Kehoe Beach and walk to the end, munching on cookies all the while. If it rained we’d take the dog up the ridge, saving a cookie for the descent down the other side with Tomales Bay in our sights the whole way.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cups oat flour (from about 2 cups gluten-free whole oats)
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl and with a hand mixer on medium speed, cream the butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the granulated and dark brown sugars and mix until incorporated.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until full incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree and mixed until fully combined.

In a medium bowl whisk together the oat flour, baking powder, salt and ground spices.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Fold in the chopped chocolate.

Scoop batter in heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about two inches between each cookie.

Place in oven and bake for 13-15 minutes or until the bottoms begin to turn golden brown (do not overbake). Remove from oven and let cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before placing on a rack to cool completely.[/print_this]