Thanksgiving Part 3: Dessert

Why is pie synonymous with Thanksgiving? I have yet to make that connection, but I’ve eaten pie every mid-October for as long as I can remember and I’m mighty thankful for that.

Perhaps it is because the holiday falls right in the middle of apple and pumpkin season and who wants to be baking anything else than gorgeous pies with that fresh, affordable produce?

This has been the most beautiful autumn I can remember. The weekends have been sunny and warm and we’ve been lucky enough to get out and do plenty of our favorite fall activities such as apple picking (twice!), pumpkin harvesting and getting lost in a corn labyrinth.

I made a lot of pies as a kid. My siblings and I would earn spare cash over the summer by holding a stall at the local farmers market. My mother would sell her bedding plants–fragrant herbs, perky tomatoes and broad-leafed cucumbers; my brother usually had to find a home for a litter of bunnies or young goat, but my older sister and I baked. Apple, strawberry and rhubarb pies, butter tarts, cinnamon buns, bagels and anything else we figured would sell. Those were some lucky customers we supplied; boy we should have charged double!

Those pie-making skills certainly rubbed off on my youngest sister, who brought this towering Spiced Apple Streusel Pie to our Thanksgiving dinner. While Miranda’s true passion is for animals and animal care, she also knows her way around the kitchen, as this gravity-defying deep dish pie demonstrated. I mean, just look at those apples, they are stacked four high! No slouchy sunken apple pie for her.

I knew you had to have this recipe. I’ve already made it again since Thanksgiving and it’s only been a week!

Spiced Streusel Apple Pie

Course: Desserts
Calories: 3435kcal
Author: Aimee


For Streusel Topping

  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup granola
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter chilled, and cut into small pieces

For Filling

  • 2 1/4 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 6 medium), peeled, quartered, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 Flaky Pie Crust prepared and chilled


For Streusel

  • Combine pecans, brown sugar, granola, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in processor.
  • Using on/off turns, process until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and process until small moist clumps form. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate)

For Filling

  • Position rack in centre of oven and preheat to 375°F.
  • Toss apples with sour cream in large bowl to coat.
  • Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture over apples and toss to coat.
  • Transfer filling to prepared crust.
  • Sprinkle streusel over apples, covering completely. Bake until apples are tender and strusel is golden, tenting pie with foil if streusel browns too quickly, about 1 hour.
  • Transfer pie to a wire rack and cool slightly. Serve pie slightly warm or at room temperature.


Calories: 3435kcal | Carbohydrates: 455g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 180g | Saturated Fat: 69g | Cholesterol: 210mg | Sodium: 850mg | Potassium: 1954mg | Fiber: 41g | Sugar: 276g | Vitamin A: 3017IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 446mg | Iron: 12mg

Keeping things seasonal, my awesome sister-in-law, Melanie, seduced us all with the other dessert of the night: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce.

I swear, we had this bread pudding and the apple pie keeping warm in the oven while we digested our dinner, and when I opened the oven door to take a peek it smelt so good my knees nearly buckled. The combination of apple and pumpkin with all the spices was just too good to be true. If only there was a scented candle that smelled so sweet!

Last fall I created the memorable Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding with Rummy Raisins and Mel’s version only confirmed that I love, love bread pudding. It’s a great do-ahead dessert, the flavors only improve over time, and it’s actually a brilliant dessert to bring to a pot-luck–nothing is going so squish, spill or crack.

I had suggested we whip some cream to top of both the pie and the pudding, but that was deemed to be ‘overdoing it’ and the idea was shot down. (I know, I know, who runs the kitchen anyway, right?) However, it turns out the toffee sauce was really all I needed, and no one noticed that I splashed a little onto my pie as well.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce

5 cups cubed day-old bread, (crusts left on or removed)
1/2 cup golden raisins

2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin (no spices added)
1 1/2 cups half & half, milk, light cream or a combination thereof
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Toffee Sauce:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in the center of the oven. You will need an 8 inch square baking dish.

Custard: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, half and half, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, spices and salt. Add the bread cubes and raisins and toss to coat, making sure all the bread cubes are coated with the custard.

Transfer the bread pudding to the ungreased pan and bake for about 25 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the bread pudding from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.
Served warm with toffee sauce.

Toffee Sauce:
Place the butter, sugar, and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. You can make this sauce in advance and simply reheat.

Makes an 8×8 inch bread pudding (serves 6 people)

I hope you’ve gotten some inspiration from this little Thanksgiving series. It’s been fun!

Missed the rest of the meal?
Thanksgiving Part 1: Turkey & Co

Thanksgiving Part 2: Side Dishes

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding with Rummy Raisins

What’s with all the pumpkin? you are probably asking right now, but don’t tell me you can resist their rock-bottom prices, rich fall colors, or a chance to make something other than pie either! I can’t promise this will be the last recipe…

I have had all these ideas in my head about building a dessert around a classic bread pudding made with a fluffy brioche, adding pumpkin puree for that seasonal flavor, plenty of spices to complement the tame pumpkin, a creme caramel-type base for added stickiness, and rum-soaked raisins thrown in just because. Sound good? It was!

(I had also though about making it with heavy cream for a crème brulée feel, but decided to add whipping cream as a garnish instead.)
The bread pudding turned out well, and as good as it was straight from the oven, I thought it was even better the next day when I warmed it up for lunch. Maybe all those flavors needed a chance to meld, or maybe I was just really, really hungry and anything sweet would have tasted like heaven. (That happens a lot)

While the bread pudding baked, the smells coming from the oven that perfumed the whole house were absolutely amazing–forget scented candles. If my windows had been opened we would have had people lining up outside the front door. Roasted pumpkin, freshly ground spices and Jamaican rum all contributed to having our home smell better than any Thanksgiving dinner you have ever sat down to enjoy.

Hmmm…, comfort food seems to be in the spotlight on Under the High Chair these days. With rice pudding a few days ago and a bread pudding today, what’s next? Pease pudding? I think I’ll leave that one up to the British – like Amanda at Little Foodies who makes her pease pudding with ham. Delicious!

And now for the recipe.

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding with Rummy Raisins

Unsalted butter, room temperature, for ramekins
½ cup sugar, for dissolving

1 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup rum

1/3 cup hot water
1 1/12 cups firm pumpkin puree

4 large eggs
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
½ cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ inch fresh cinnamon stick
Three whole allspice
½ tonka bean
Pinch of salt
One 12-ounce, day-old loaf brioche cut into 3/4-inch cubes
(or desired size)
Whipping cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter six 10-ounce ramekins or custard cups.

In a small, heavy bottomed pot, carefully dissolve 1/2 cup sugar and cook until golden, stirring occasionally. Divide evenly among ramekins to coat the bottom and allow to cool.

Place raisins in a small bowl, and cover with rum and the hot water; let soak until plump, about 20 minutes. Drain; set aside.

Combine cinnamon stick, whole allspice and tonka bean in a spice grinder and grind until fine.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, granulated sugar, milk, ginger, vanilla, spice mix, and salt. Toss in the bread cubes, and stir gently to evenly coat; let stand a few minutes.

Fold in the raisins. Divide among prepared dishes, pressing down slightly to make level.
Bake until custard is set in the center and top is golden, about 40 minutes.
If bread browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Remove from oven and run a sharp knife around the edges; let cool slightly.
To serve, un-mold onto plates; serve with sweetened whipped cream. It is entirely up to you if you wish to spike the cream or not!

WFD? Pumpkin & Parmesan Ravioli with Rapini & Pine Nuts

Now that have I moved into the second trimester of this pregnancy, I can feel my energy creeping back. It feels good–maybe a little too good. Uh oh, do I really have this many things on the go?
As we speed toward the holidays and with the impending baby arriving soon after, it’s as if a fire has been lit under us to get some of the house projects wrapped up—I mean, started–which, as anyone who knows us can testify, means renovations.

So, let’s see. There is wall paper to strip, closets to build, flooring to lay and painting all around. I’ve also taken on a small, weekly catering contract that helps keep me even busier in the kitchen. All this on top of our usual active schedule makes for some long days.

I like to work, I really do, I don’t really know how to not be busy, but when my doctor is telling me I have low blood pressure and to slow down, I realize I have to try and not do quite so much.

That brings us to our recipe for tonight’s dinner. It involves a shortcut. Although I am not one to regularly open a can of soup or bake from a mix, I am not opposed to simplifying recipes or eliminating steps such as this one.
I have used dumpling skins on occasion to make ravioli or tortellini and find that they are a superb alternative to the time-consuming homemade pasta dough. I would love to haul out my pasta machine in the afternoon and spend an hour or so playing with dough, but I don’t always have the time or energy. Although the taste of fresh pasta is hard to beat, these dumpling skins at least provide great texture and look pretty good too!

Pumpkin recipes are popping up all over the place and so I’ll add my two cents with this ravioli recipe. The squashes are particularly beautiful this fall and if you live anywhere near a market, you should get out and enjoy the colours.

The bitter rapini is a perfect contrast to the rich filling of the ravioli and the pine nuts provide a needed crunch. Of course, no pasta is complete without some shavings of Parmesan!

This is a quick supper to put together. Have your partner toss a salad and let the kids grate the Parmesan. You can fill the ravioli while your water is coming to a boil and before you know it, dinner is on the table.

Pumpkin & Parmesan Ravioli with Rapini, Brown Butter and Pine Nuts
Serves 6

2 cups firm pumpkin puree
½ cup grated parmesan
1 egg yolk
¼ teaspoon white pepper, ground
1 teaspoon salt
1 pkg dumpling skins (available at most Asian grocers)
1 small bunch of rapini
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup butter

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In a small pan, melt butter and cook gently until it browns lightly. Set aside.
Trim rapini, removing tough stalks and keeping the heads. Blanch or sauté lightly, season ,and reserve for dish.

Prepare filling by combining pumpkin puree, Parmesan, egg yolk and seasoning. Have a small dish of water on hand. Place about a tablespoon of filling in the center of a dumpling skin. Dip your finger in the dish of water and run your finger around the edge of the skin to moisten. Top with another skin and press firmly around edges. Repeat with remaining filling and dumpling skins.

Drop into rapidly boiling water and boil for two minutes. Drain and toss with brown butter and warm rapini. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with pine nuts and parmesan. Serve at once.
Makes about 24 ravioli.