Delicious alternatives to holiday desserts

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My family gathered recently to celebrate my mother's birthday. While we were together, we planned the Thanksgiving dinner menu. Several of us prepare the same side dishes each year, but sometimes we like to mix things up. While I was in a store over the weekend, someone stopped me, and we had the same conversation about desserts for Thanksgiving. She said she wanted to try something new and wanted me to help her find a couple of new recipes. Today is just that; a few dessert recipes that are just a little different from pumpkin pie or pecan pie. I hope you enjoy.

Upside Down Cranberry Pumpkin Cake

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 cups fresh cranberries, washed, drained and patted dry

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

2 eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

6 tablespoons canola oil

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch baking pan, round or square, with non-stick cooking spray. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth, over medium heat. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Scatter the cranberries and pecans evenly over the brown sugar/butter mixture in the pan. Set aside. Whisk the eggs, pumpkin puree and oil together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Spoon the batter evenly into the pan over the other ingredients. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan, on a wire rack, for 5 minutes. Run a table knife around the edge of the cake to free the sides from the pan. Place a large plate on top of the cake. Invert the cake and plate together, turning the cake onto the plate, removing it from the pan. Let cool completely before cutting and serving. Top individual servings with whipped cream thawed frozen whipped topping.

Cranberry Bliss Bars


1 cup butter, softened

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cut up dried cranberries

6 ounces cut up chunks of white chocolate


4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup cut up dried cranberries

Drizzled Icing:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons vegetable shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger and salt and beat well. Gradually mix in flour until smooth. Mix 3/4 cup cut up dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter. Pour batter into a well-greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until light brown around on the edges. Cool.

For frosting, combine softened cream cheese, 3 cups powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract until smooth. Spread frosting over the top of the cake. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cut up cranberries over the frosting on the cake. Whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and shortening. Drizzle icing over the cranberries. Slice the cake lengthwise through the middle. Then slice the cake across the width three times making a total of eight rectangular slices. Slice each rectangle diagonally creating 16 triangular slices.

Mincemeat Cookies

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup shortening

1 egg

2 cups prepared mincemeat pie filling

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cream together brown sugar and shortening. Add in egg and mincemeat and mix well. Sift together flour, salt and baking soda and stir into mincemeat mixture. Drop onto cookie sheet and bake 7 to 10 minutes. If desired, you can make a powdered sugar drizzle with powdered sugar and orange juice and drizzle over the top of the cookies.

Pumpkin Roulade with Ginger Buttercream

For the cake:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting

For the filling:

12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese

1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/4 cup minced dried crystallized ginger (not in syrup)

Pinch kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13-by-18-by-1-inch sheet pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and grease and flour the paper. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and stir to combine. Place the eggs and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light yellow and thickened. With the mixer on low, add the pumpkin, then slowly add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Finish mixing the batter by hand with a rubber spatula. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake the cake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the top springs back when gently touched. While the cake is baking, lay out a clean, thin cotton dish towel on a flat surface and sift the entire 1/4 cup of confectioners' sugar evenly over it. (This will prevent the cake from sticking to the towel.) As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, loosen it around the edges and invert it squarely onto the prepared towel. Peel away the parchment paper. With a light touch, roll the warm cake and the towel together -- do not press -- starting at the short end of the cake. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, confectioners' sugar, and cream together for about a minute, until light and fluffy. Stir in the crystallized ginger and salt. To assemble, carefully unroll the cake onto a board with the towel underneath. Spread the cake evenly with the filling. Reroll the cake in a spiral using the towel as a guide. Remove the towel and trim the ends to make a neat edge. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve sliced.

Have a wonderful weekend, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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