Some people obsess about having the biggest, thinking it’s the best. I went in a different direction for Thanksgiving this year. We did have one big long table; with 17 people you kind of need that. We also had one big turkey, about 19 pounds or so. But for desserts…we went small and smaller, all the way.
I got an idea in my head about making individual pies. My Grumpy, and our son PJ, love those nasty little pies that come in a box. The ones that taste like they were shipped in from another continent. Seeing them eat those things is just insulting. I decided to make some of those things, but make them right. I would make a big dessert table, where all the desserts were single serving sized. It would be a “serve yourself” dessert buffet.
First I made a trip to the local “Savers” store, kind of like a giant thrift store. I picked up dozens of little second-hand dishes for baking pies. I had already canned a few pie fillings (apple, peach and green-tomato-mincemeat) as well as some canned pumpkin chunks. I found a recipe for Banana-Caramel-Vanilla-Cream pie. It looked amazing- and it was worth the effort. It was about a week before Thanksgiving, and I had some extra cream in the fridge. I made a batch of sea-salt caramel and cooked it just a bit less than usual (recipe here). I cooked it to the soft ball stage, then put it into jars to save for the desserts. If you do this, trust me, don’t put “caramel” on the jars. Label them as “prune sauce” and no one will touch them. Anyway…the big easy on this thing is that the fillings were little or no effort, and you can do it all in advance of the big day.
The day before turkey day I made 3 separate batches of pie dough. I used my favorite recipe (here) for dough. After chilling, I rolled it out and cut it with an empty oatmeal box. Apple and mincemeat were scooped straight from the jar, covered and baked.
These are the apple pies here….see those little things scattered around? Extra pie dough. I cut it into “leaves” for fun.
This mincemeat is really different: green tomatoes, apples, oranges, lemons, dried cranberries, brown sugar and spices. Yum!
Then, I whipped up some pumpkin chunks in the food processor. I have to admit, I don’t know exactly what I added. I think there was brown sugar, cinnamon, ground allspice and a pinch of nutmeg. I added eggs, poured it all into a saucepan and I cooked it for about 5 minutes until it was shiny. I added cream and butter, brought it almost to a boil. Then I added vanilla, poured it into the shells and baked it at 375f until it looked done. This was the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had.
The “banana” pie was simple. I prebaked the crust, placed sliced bananas on that. Then, I poured a layer of the sea-salt caramel over the bananas. I made a nice vanilla pudding that I found on here on “Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures”. That was layered over the caramel, then the whole thing was topped by whipped cream. You can see a couple of them in the upper right corner of this photo- that was before the whipped cream. This was a real surprise dessert- much better than I expected.
Then, I decided I’d better make enough so the “big kids” would have one too. Kids like Grumpy, as well as the little-uns.
So…that was the best Thanksgiving ever, and the dessert table was what made it fun for me. I’ll definitely be making individual desserts again at Christmas. I’m not sure what I’ll make yet, but I’m already looking forward to the planning!