What would a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner be without the glorious finish? Allow plenty of digestion time to pass before serving dessert. Offer guests two options to choose from. A sweet potato pie with pecan streusel is a nice alternative to the classic pumpkin pie. A to die for caramel apple pie rounds out the other half of the dessert menu. To get the recipes that will have guests saying "pass the whipped cream,"
For the pecan streusel:
1 tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the filling:
1 large Garnet yam (orange-fleshed sweet potato), 12 to 14 oz.
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
sweetened whipped cream for serving
- Fold the dough round in half and transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Unfold and ease into the pan, patting it firmly into the bottom and up the sides.
- Using kitchen shears, trim the edge of the dough round, leaving 3/4-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under itself and pinch it together to create a high edge on the pans rim. Flute the edge decoratively.
- Refrigerate or freeze the pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F.
- Line the pastry shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or raw short-grain rice. Bake for 20 minutes, then lift an edge of the foil. If the dough looks wet, continue to bake, checking every 5 minutes, until the dough is pale gold, for a total baking time of 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
- To make the pecan streusel, in a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon. Set aside.
- To make the filling, prick the yam several times with a fork, put directly on the oven rack and bake until tender when pierced with a knife, about 55 minutes. Alternatively, cook the yam in the microwave on high heat until tender, about 6 minutes per side. Set aside to cool. Peel the cooled yam and mash the pulp with a fork or puree in a food processor until smooth. Measure out 1 cup of the puree for the filling. (Reserve any remaining yam for another use.)
- In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, salt, and eggs. Add the cinnamon, ginger, and allspice and mix well. Stir in the yam puree and cream and beat until smooth. Pour into the partially-baked pie shell.
- Bake until the filling is firm, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the pie from the oven, quickly sprinkle the pecan streusel evenly over the surface, and continue baking until the filling is slightly risen and firm in the middle, 20 to 25 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
- Slice the pie into wedges and serve with whipped cream.
Makes one 9-inch pie.
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
2 eggs separated, (yolks for the pastry, whites for the glaze)
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for the top
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 lemon, halved
8 apples (recommended: Granny Smith and Gala)
1 tablespoon flour
1 cinnamon stick, freshly grated
1/4 cup unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Cut in the chunks of cold butter with a pastry blender, a little at a time, until the dough resembles cornmeal.
- Add the 2 egg yolks and the ice water, and blend for a second just to pull the dough together and moisten. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and let it rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. To make the caramel sauce: place the sugar and water in a small pot and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until the sugar has melted and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the burner and add the cream and wine slowly. It may bubble and spit, so be careful. When the sauce has calmed down, return it to the flame, add the vanilla bean and heat it slowly, until the wine and caramel are smooth and continue to slowly cook until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and cool until thickened.
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze in the lemon juice. Peel the apples with a paring knife, cut them in half, and remove the core with a melon baller. Put the apple halves in the lemon-water (this will keep them from going brown). Toss the apples with the flour and cinnamon.
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap the plastic, and cut the ball in half. Rewrap and return 1 of the balls to the refrigerator, until ready for the top crust. Let the dough rest on the counter for 15 minutes so it will be pliable enough to roll out.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin and lay it inside a 10-inch glass pie pan. Press the dough into the pan so it fits tightly.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Slice a couple of the apples at a time using a mandolin or a very sharp knife. The apples need to be thinly sliced so that as the pie bakes, they collapse on top of each other with no air pockets. This makes a dense, meaty apple pie.
- Cover the bottom of the pastry with a layer of apples, shingling the slices so there are no gaps. Ladle about 2 ounces of the cooled red wine caramel sauce evenly over the apple slices. Repeat the layers, until the pie is slightly overfilled and domed on the top; the apples will shrink down as the pie cooks. Top the apples with pieces of the butter.
- Now, roll out the other ball of dough just as you did the first. Brush the bottom lip of the pie pastry with a little beaten egg white to form a seal. Place the pastry circle on top of the pie, and using some kitchen scissors, trim off the overhanging excess from around the pie. Crimp the edges of dough together with your fingers to make a tight seal. Cut slits in the top of the pie so steam can escape while baking. Place the pie on a sheet tray and tent it with a piece of aluminum foil, so the crust does not cook faster than the apples.
- Bake the caramel apple pie for 25 minutes on the middle rack.
- In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the freshly grated cinnamon. Remove the foil from the pie and brush the top with the remaining egg white. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar and return to the oven.
- Continue to bake for another 25 minutes, until the pie is golden and bubbling. Let the apple pie rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour to allow the fruit pectin to gel and set; otherwise the pie will fall apart when you cut into it.