04 December 2013

The Pies Of Thanksgiving -- Recipe Edition

We have had several recipe requests for our Thanksgiving pie roundup. 

I cook like my Mother cooked.  People were always asking for recipes and my Mother would try to give them to people, it's just that she never cooked anything the same way twice.  I never met a recipe I used.  This is pretty close.

The traditional pie is the one on the pumpkin can.  Pumpkin, sugar, evaporated milk, whatever.  The only trick to this pie is to under cook it slightly. I can't tell you anymore than that.  If you cook it and leave it in the oven as long as the can says, the custard will split.  If there is big gooey spot in the middle, don't take it out.  A slight wobble is A-OK.  Really, a split won't affect it at all.  You eat the ugly piece and throw whipped cream on the rest!

The apple pie is a second attempt of a good idea.   A friend of mine brought me some pumpkin cream cheese.  Pumpkin cream cheese seemed like a great idea until I actually had it and didn't have a clue what to do with it.  I though of using it as a base for an apple galette.   I saw a recipe for a galette that touted a magnificent crust.  (Let me say here that with all the "off the cuff" improve I do in the kitchen, I rarely mess with a pastry recipe, so I followed the the recipe to the letter.)

I made the miracle crust, put it on a silpat, piped on the pumpkin cream cheese filling, added the apples, raised the sides, chilled it a full 30 minutes to set the crust, put it in the oven.  Ten minutes into baking, the crust had meted and cream cheese was oozing everywhere.  There was no saving the galette, so I let it bake.   When it was cool, I peeled the mess off the silpat and tossed it in a bowl.  Everyone that passed the bowl grabbed a chunk of the...whatever.  (Let me just say here, that cooking for Thanksgiving requires many battles and after the melting crust, I chose not to fight that one and capitulated to a store-bought pre-made dough.  Let me also say that I never just unroll the dough and go, I always add a bit of coarse sugar, an herb or two, a touch of spice, or a schmere of butter to make the crust mine.)  (Let me also say that I have never made or bought a pie crust that had enough crust to turn one pie into a dozen little pies.  The instruction always say, roll the crust and cut 12 circles.  Don't be fooled, you will not get 12 circles out of a single recipe for dough nor will you get them out of two rolls of pre-made pie dough.   Make six or make more dough.)

Moving on...

Apple/Pumpkin Cream Cheese

1 pie crust or 6 or 12 little pie crusts depending on your mood

5 apples, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 8-ounce package of pumpkin cream cheese, softened, plain will work...

1 egg

1 cup sugar, 3/4 for filling, 1/4 cup for dusting the apples

1 teaspoon quatre épices, or pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1.  Cut the pie crust in small circles, slightly larger than the cupcake tins as you will want about 1/2 inch of the crust to stick up above the pan edges. Place them in a cupcake pan. 

2.  Peel and cut the apples and immediately dust with 1/4 cup sugar and the spice.

3.  In a bowl, mix the softened cream cheese, the egg, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

4. Evenly distribute the cream cheese mixture onto the bottom of the pie crusts.

5.  Top the cream cheese mixture with the apples.

6. Press the sides of the crust around the apples.

7.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

(If you want to make one gallette, leave the crust in tact, spread the cream cheese in the middle of the crust, leaving about a 2 inches boarder of crust.  Place the apples on top and bring the plain edges of crust up around the mixture.   Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Generally, a gallet is baked on a cookie sheet, but feel free to cheat and cook it in a pie pan, just in case your crust fails.) 

The pumpkin mousse in a ginger snap crust is an amalgam of about six recipes from the mundane to the sublime.  There is a Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipe calling for cream cheese, Cool Whip and pre-made graham cracker crust.  There is a sublime recipe over at my one of my favorite blogs,  Yummy Books.  Mine falls in between. 

Pumpkin Mousse in a Ginger Snap Crust


1 box ginger snaps

1 stick melted butter

1/4 cup soft diced ginger (This is optional, thought I have said it before and I will say it again, this is one of my favorite cooking items.  Toss a spoon full in a vinaigrette, add it to a barbecue sauce, put it in a curry, you can't go wrong...)

Crush the ginger snaps in a food processor.  Add the ginger if desired.  Slowly add the melted butter, pulsing until the wet crumbs hold together.   Remove the crumb mixture and place in a tart pan with a removable bottom that is at least 2 inches high.  Press the crust into the pan, filling the flutes with the crust.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Remove and let cool.


1 can pumpkin

1/2 stick butter, softened

1 small package cream cheese (4 ounce), softened

8 ounces of plain goat cheese, softened

1 cup 10 X powdered sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon quatre épices or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

(It is very, very important to make sure the butter, cream cheese and goat cheese are softened.  They need to give easily when touched.  If they appear to be too cold or lumpy, you can force the cheeses and butter through a wire strainer with the back of a spoon. You can also just put them in the stand mixer and let them beat beat and beat till smooth.)

1.  Sift the spices and sugars into a small bowl.

2.  In a stand mixer, whip the softened butter, cream cheese and goat cheese until very smooth.

3.  Add the pumpkin and beat until incorporated.

4. Add the sugar mixture and beat again, till fully incorporated.

5. Pour the mousse into the cooled pie shell and refrigerate overnight.

Don't have time to bake the crust?  Try this:

If you own one of those mini cheesecake pans with the removable bottoms, just lay a ginger snap in the bottom and add the mousse.  

Simply crumble the cookies into the bottom of jelly jars or ramekins and dollop in the mousse. 

Try chocolate cookies. (Yummy Books uses almond cookies and rosemary for their crust.)

Use your favorite granola for the crust.

Be bold.  Experiment.  If you screw it up, just scrape it into a bowl and refuse to give anyone the recipe! 


  1. Now THIS is the way to cook. Thanks for the hints and downright recipes.

    1. My problem with recipes! I look at them and think, Why can't you do this, or this, or this...and usually I do!

  2. Thank you so much for posting these. I am definitely going to make the pumpkin mousse for Christmas.


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