Nina’s Tips & Techniques: Thanksgiving Desserts

Canned pumpkin or fresh?

Everyone has a personal preference, and I won’t stand in the way of yours; but there are pros and cons of both. Canned pumpkin tends to be creamier because of the way it is mixed and strained in whatever facility it is made. However, it also tends to be less flavorful. “Pumpkin pie” filling in the can is already spiced, yet not spiced enough for my liking…so sometimes the end result is a bit blah. Fresh pumpkin can be lumpy or stringy if it’s not roasted long enough. I always make sure to pass my fresh pumpkin through a fine mesh strainer before using it for pie – this helps with that lumpy, stringy issue mentioned before! Fresh pumpkin has great flavor, especially if you get it nice and browned in the roasting process – those caramelized sugars really enhance the pumkin-ness.

I have no time to make a pie, but I really want to make dessert and not buy something pre-made. Any shortcuts?

Well, there is always the shortcut of buying a pre-made crust. Truth be told I do not love frozen pie crusts, but they do get the job done when you need to save some time. However, my preference over taking a shortcut on an old standby is to think outside the box about something completely different that will fit the bill and cut down on my time in the kitchen. Try to think about the flavors of the season and then apply them to quicker preparations. Example – a crisp takes half the time to prepare and bake as a pie. Try an apple cranberry crisp! A cheesecake is easy to mix and can be made the night before since it is supposed to be served cold, so try a pumpkin cheesecake. Got an Instant Pot? Try an Instant Pot cheesecake (they come out GREAT!). Skip the crust on the pumpkin pie and bake the filling in individual ramekins. Top them with whipped cream and toasted pumpkin seeds when the come out. These bake fast and are naturally gluten free!

Featured Recipe: Apple Cranberry Crisp with Polenta Streusel Topping