The desserts on our Thanksgiving table are assorted and not always that traditional. We make them in abundance. Though Thanksgiving attendance has ranged from twelve to thirty over the years, we like to make sure that there’s at least one dessert for every two to three people–way, way too many.
There’s the Frozen Chocolate Marquise with Mocha Cream, essentially a log of cold chocolate mousse. It’s rich, refreshing, and irresistible. My little sister Kate makes it, though I had to step in one year when she was studying abroad in Turkey.
Then there’s the Pound Cake. At times, it has played host to a lemon glaze, but at the moment, we serve it plain. It’s the cake from The Silver Palate, and in my mind it’s the best pound cake there is–it’s simply sugar, butter, eggs, and flour, and it’s beaten for a long, long time. Still, not much of it gets eaten after dinner on Thanksgiving. I for one never really want something remotely bread-like after a dinner that includes both stuffing and braided biscuits. Of course that’s not really why we make the pound cake. The whole point of it is to have toasted leftover pound cake to eat the next day.
For some years, we made a bread pudding with chocolate chips in it, but that was discontinued. It was just too heavy in the end.
Aunt Cindy usually brings plates of brownies and cookies. So those go out. And then we move to more traditional fare. There’s a pecan pie, which really no one eats but me. Pecan pie is my absolute favorite, and I will not give it up. Some years, we’ve made pumpkin pie, but even when it’s there, it doesn’t feel like a tradition–I don’t think I even tried pumpkin pie until I was about 16.
Last but not least, there’s my mom’s apple pie, which we all know and love, and which I hope doesn’t get completely eaten on Thanksgiving. I never have room for it after the chocolate marquise and the pecan pie, but I like to eat a slice next to my pound cake the following morning.
I suppose in the end, Mom’s recipe makes what you’d call an apple tart. There’s certainly no top crust (that’s really not our style), and there aren’t layers upon layers of apples, which get gluey and soggy–also not our style. In our pie, you get firm, sweet apples and a cookie-like tart dough simply covered in a layer of jam. I have yet to meet someone who didn’t love this tart. Best of all, it’s as suited to be dessert during any of the fall months–no need to limit it to Thanksgiving. But you should add it to your Thanksgiving menu as soon as you can, whether you’re feeding forty people or two.
From my kitchen, filled with Thanksgiving-y (and not so Thanksgiving-y) desserts, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Mom’s Apple Pie
I’ve never spent much time concentrating on which type of apple is the best to bake. Use what you like or what you have. In the past, my mom has made pear pies and mixed pear-apple pies, and I recommend those as well.
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
5-6 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into slices
1 tablespoon jam–strawberry, raspberry, or apricot preferred
1 batch tart dough (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the orange juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a large bowl and mix. Add the apple slices and toss to distribute the liquid evenly among them.
Roll out the dough and drape it over a tart pan with removable bottom. Press it in, and double the sides of the tart with extra dough. Use a fork to prick holes in the bottom of the pie shell. Brush the bottom with the jam.
Arrange the apples in overlapping concentric circles, starting at the outside. You want to squeeze them in, as they shrink during baking. When you get to the center, you may have to lose the circle pattern, but just try to make the apples look attractive. Discard any remaining juice/cornstarch mixture.
Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the crust is golden and cooked through and the apples are brown on top. Cool to room temperature, remove the sides of the tart pan, and serve. If crust appears to be cooking too quickly, cover loosely with foil
1 2/3 cups flour
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick + 1 tablespoon butter, cut into chunks
1 egg yolk beaten with 3-4 tablespoons of the coldest ice water you can get your hands on
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse just until the mixture looks like crumbs. Add about 2 tablespoons of the water and pulse again. Continue adding water just until the dough comes together into a ball.
Flatten the ball into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out.