Preparing For Thanksgiving – Creole Desserts

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Now I’m not normally a dessert person – I prefer savory dishes to sweet ones.  That being said, there are a few desserts that can tempt me.  Happily for me at this time of year, my typical Creole Thanksgiving dinner features two of such desserts – pie and bread pudding.  I would like to share with you the recipe for my absolute favorite pie – sweet potato pecan pie – though I wouldn’t suggest eating this more than one or two times a year!   I also thoroughly enjoy a very traditional New Orleans dessert – bread pudding.  The recipe I’ve included below is an easy version of the dessert.  It’s a great way to use leftover, stale bread and, once you get the basic recipe down, have fun making ingredient substitutions like raisins or dark chocolate and candied orange zest instead of white chocolate and cranberries!


I would love to hear about your favorite desserts to enjoy at Thanksgiving – please send on your recipes!  My wife and oldest daughter especially love to try new sweet creations!



Sweet Potato Pecan Pie


Pie Crust (optional)

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

2 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 of a whole egg (Vigorously beaten until frothy – reserve the other half for the sweet potato filling).

2 tbsp. cold milk

1 c. all-purpose flour


For the dough: Place the softened butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer; beat on high speed until the mixture is creamy. Add the 1/2 egg and beat 30 seconds. Add the milk and beat on high speed 2 minutes. Add the flour and beat on medium speed 5 seconds, then on high speed just until blended, about 5 seconds more (overmixing will produce a tough dough). Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a 5 inch patty about 1/2 inch thick. Lightly dust the patty with flour and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. (The dough will last up to one week refrigerated.)


On a lightly floured surface roll out dough to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Very lightly flour the top of the dough and fold it into quarters. Carefully place dough in a greased and floured 8 inch round cake pan (1 1/2 inches deep) so that the corner of the folded dough is centered in the pan. Unfold the dough and arrange it to fit the sides and bottom of pan; press firmly in place. Trim edges. Refrigerate 15 minutes.


Sweet Potato filling:

2 to 3 sweet potatoes (or enough to yield 1 c. cooked pulp), baked

1/4 c. packed, light brown sugar

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 egg, vigorously beaten until frothy (reserved above)

1 tbsp. heavy cream

1 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground allspice

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg


For the sweet-potato filling: Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer until the batter is smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overbeat. Set aside.


Pecan Pie Syrup Top:

3/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. dark corn syrup

2 sm. eggs

1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Pinch of ground cinnamon

3/4 c. pecan pieces or halves


For the pecan pie syrup: Combine all the ingredients except the pecans in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly on slow speed of electric mixer until the syrup is opaque, about 1 minute; stir in pecans and set aside.

To assemble: Spoon the sweet-potato filling evenly into the dough-lined cake pan. Pour the pecan syrup on top. Bake in a 325 degree oven until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 3/4 hours. (Note: The pecans will rise to the top of the pie during baking.)


Cool and serve with Chantilly Cream. Store pie at room temperature for the first 24 hours, then (in the unlikely event there is any left) refrigerate.


Chantilly Cream:

Makes about 2 cups.

2/3 c. heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp brandy

1 tsp. Grand Marnier

1/4 c. sugar

2 tbsp. dairy sour cream


For the Chantilly cream:  Refrigerate a medium-size bowl and beaters until very cold. Combine cream, vanilla, brandy and Grand Marnier in the bowl and beat with electric mixer on medium speed 1 minute. Add the sugar and sour cream and beat on medium just until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. DO NOT OVERBEAT. (Overbeating will make the cream grainy, which is the first step leading to butter. Once grainy you can’t return it to its former consistency, but if this ever happens, enjoy it on toast!)



Bread Pudding


0.5 lb. Dark Brown sugar

1/4 cup  ground cinnamon

9 eggs

1 qt heavy cream

Day-old French or Ciabatta bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 sections from a block of white chocolate, rough chopped

1.5 lb. dried cranberries


Mix sugar, cinnamon, & eggs together. Mix until homogenous, then add the cream, +  & blend until fully incorporated. Add the bread until the custard is just absorbed(it should still be a little wet), at least a half hour or more. When absorbed, add the white chocolate & cranberries & fold in until fully incorporated.


Bake in muffin pans at 325-350 degrees until the puddings are set but soft to the touch. Allow to cool @ room temperature for at least a half hour before removing.



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