Are you mulling over what to serve for dessert on Thanksgiving?
After all, many home cooks would face a near riot if they didn’t serve the traditional turkey, sides, and sauces that their family and friends expect.
This is the course that you can safely play with – as long as there is plenty to choose from – and it tastes good!
Super Chef decided to turn to Nick Malgieri’s Pastry: Foolproof Recipes for the Home Cook (Kyle 2014) for some basic techniques and inspiration. If you are having a mixed table of gluten-free and non-gluten free guests, then desserts may prove tricky.
Nick includes two different dough without gluten: Unsweetened Gluten-Free and Gluten-Free Cookie Dough as well as tips in a page covering Rolling Gluten-Free Doughs & Forming Tart Crusts (pp. 23-4). He warns that:
Please remember, though, that if you decide to bake for someone who can’t have wheat, you’ll have to scrupulously clean all your vessels, utensils, and work areas, even a minuscule amount of flour could cause a life-threatening reaction in someone with a severe allergy. (p. 22)
Next, you’ll want to choose at least one pie or tart. If you are cooking with French influences, try the Apple & Calvados Cream Tart (p. 42) or the French Lemon Meringue Tart (p. 48). If you make the lemon tart, then you’ll have plenty of Lemon Curd (p. 48) leftover to use with your morning toast or give as a gift. If you are serving a more exotic meal, then what about trying Mango Lassi Tart (p. 55) or Mexican Cheese Tartlets (p. 65) filled with ricotta and Mexican cinnamon.
But perhaps you are planning a more traditional Thanksgiving, the Cranberry Pecan Pie (p. 68) is essentially a citrusy cranberry sauce cooked in a pie shell with a sprinkling of pecans. It makes cranberry sauce redundant – or you could have both! Instead of pumpkin, you could try Nick’s Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie (p. 80).
But why stop at Thanksgiving. Use up that leftover turkey in Argentine Chicken Empanadas (p. 122) or try them in Cornish-Style Pasties (p. 125). Who needs steak and kidney when you have pounds and pounds of turkey?
There is plenty more in Nick Malgieri’s Pastry – including recipes for Turkish yufka, Viennese Danish Dough, and Puff Pastry Tart Crusts. The photography by Romulo Yanes is attractive, though not exhaustive. There are step-by-step pictures for tricky parts, otherwise, the photos show the finished pastry. Each recipe has plenty of notes and variations so that you can add to your repertoire according to the season. Nick is writing for smart cooks, who are a bit knowledgeable, but want additional guidance and good advice. This is a very useful book.
Warning: this pie has a tart and tangy filling that might not be sweet enough for some people. That said, I love the tangy quality of this filling and wouldn’t want it to be any other way. By the way, since the filling is cooked before the pie is baked, you can taste it and add a little more sugar if you want. My late friend Joseph Viggiani shared this recipe years ago; I have no idea where he might have found it.
Makes one 9-inch pie, about 8 servings
One 9-inch piecrust made from Sweet Pastry Dough (page 19)
6 cups fresh cranberries, about 1 1/2 pounds, rinsed, picked over, and drained
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup turbinado or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
1/2 cup fresh orange juice, strained before measuring
4 tablespoons/1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 5 or 6 pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup/4 ounces coarsely chopped pecan pieces, divided use
Substitute walnuts for the pecans. Or use the crumb topping on page 85 instead of just the nuts (you can stir those into the crumb topping before you sprinkle it on).
1. Combine the cranberries with the rest of the ingredients except the pecans in a large nonreactive saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring often, and cook at an active simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Don’t overcook, or the filling will be hard after the pie is baked. Let cool.
2. Set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 375°F.
3. Stir half of the pecans into the filling and pour it into the prepared piecrust. Smooth the surface and scatter the remaining pecans on top.
4. Place the pan in the oven and decrease the temperature to 350°F. Bake until the crust is baked through and the pecans are toasted, 35 to 40 minutes.
5. Cool the pie on a rack and serve it at room temperature.
This is the same recipe as my sweet dough from BAKE! and several other books that I’ve been using successfully for over thirty years and have taught to thousands of people. I thought of doing something different just for the sake of having something new but then decided that the ease of preparation and handling, plus the tender quality of this dough after baking, can’t be improved upon. Below are the food processor instructions, and after the recipe, you’ll find instructions for working by hand and for using a stand mixer. Makes enough for 2 single-crusted pies or tarts or 1 double-crusted pie
2 cups/270 grams unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1/3 cup/65 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 tablespoons/1 stick/112 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces
2 large eggs
1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse several times at 1-second intervals to mix.
2. Add the butter and pulse again until the butter is finely mixed throughout the dry ingredients and no visible pieces remain.
3. Use a fork to beat the eggs enough to break them up, and add to the bowl. Pulse again until the dough almost forms a ball; avoid pulsing too much or the dough might become too soft.
4. Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead together 3 or 4 times to make it smooth.
5. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into disks, and wrap each in plastic. Chill for a couple of hours before rolling.
6. Before rolling the dough, place it on a floured surface and gently knead until smooth and malleable. Form into a disk again before beginning to roll.
This dough keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To mix the dough by hand, stir the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the dry ingredients, occasionally using your hands to scrape the bottom of the bowl and incorporate any unmixed flour. Once the butter is finely mixed throughout and no visible pieces of butter remain, use a fork to beat the eggs to break them up; add them to the bowl. Use the fork to scrape up from the bottom of the bowl and incorporate the eggs. You can also stir with the fork while using the other hand to move the bowl back and forth on the work surface. Once the dough starts holding together, continue with step 4. To mix the dough in a stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl and place on the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on the lowest speed for a few seconds, then add the butter and mix until it begins to break down into smaller pieces, about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the bowl and beater, then repeat 30 seconds of mixing, followed by stopping and scraping, until the butter is finely worked into the dry ingredients and no visible pieces remain. Whisk the eggs to break them up; add to the bowl and mix again on the lowest speed until the dough begins to hold together, then continue with step 4.