Add a bountiful dessert table to your Thanksgiving feast

Pumpkin bread

Pumpkin Date Nut Bread. Photos by Dan Kacvinski

Thanksgiving dinner calls to mind roast turkey with stuffing and gravy, sweet potatoes, rolls and cranberries. But the holiday meal wouldn’t be the same without a variety of pies and pumpkin desserts.

My friend, chef Michel Richard, who started his career as a pastry chef, was once asked if dessert is necessary. 

“I guess I would call dessert a necessary luxury or maybe a luxurious necessity,” he said.

While each family has their traditional Thanksgiving menu, desserts often change. This year, try some new ideas to provide a sweet ending for the holiday.

Early versions of pumpkin pie treated pumpkins like apples — they were sliced and sometimes sautéed with herbs and spices. I have included two of my favorite pumpkin pie recipes: One is a nondairy version that is similar to the traditional pudding type; the other, Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, is much lighter, but I always use the same pie crust for both.

Children will love the Frosted Pumpkin Cookies, and my family always looks forward to my Pumpkin Date Nut Bread, Pumpkin Bundt Cake and Pumpkin Fritters. The recipe for the Pumpkin Flan, which is nondairy, is from a friend, Meryl, who shared it with me many years ago.

Finally, it would not be Thanksgiving without a Chocolate Pecan Pie. (You can find this recipe and the Pumpkin Fritters recipe at

Each of my recipes has a story and is a reminder of someone who has touched my life or shared their recipe with me. For a special treat, ask your guests to contribute to the dessert table and ask them to bring the recipe to share.


∗ Sweet Pastry Dough pie crust (recipe follows)
∗ 1 1/4 cups canned 100% pure pumpkin
∗ 3 eggs, separated
∗ 1 cup sugar
∗ 1/4 teaspoon mace
∗ 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
∗ 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
∗ 1/4 teaspoon salt
∗ 1 envelope plain, unflavored gelatin
∗ 1/4 cup cold water
∗ Whipped cream for garnish (optional)

Prepare Sweet Pastry Dough pie crust; bake and set aside to cool.

Combine pumpkin, egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in the top of a double boiler, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes, mixing constantly.

Dissolve gelatin in cold water and let stand for 5 minutes. Add to pumpkin mixture and blend. Cool.

Beat egg whites until they cling to sides of bowl. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold pumpkin mixture into egg white mixture. Pour into baked pie crust and refrigerate until set. Garnish with whipped cream.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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