OMG! Thanksgiving is next week

I keep asking myself, “Where has this year gone?” It seems as if I was just celebrating my birthday – but that was back in June! Thanksgiving has crept up on us and I’m behind on planning my menu. The only thing I’ve done so far is to pick up my ham and turkey while grocery shopping last week!

New Traditions

This is a transition year in my family. As both my parents are several years into retirement they have decided that it’s time for someone a bit younger to host our large family gathering. This year my cousin and her husband are cooking and their home will be where everyone will meet.

I won’t be making a trip to Mom and Dad’s for our traditional gorging! In fact, I’ll be cooking most of the Thanksgiving feast at home this year. My wife’s daughter, her boyfriend, and our grandson will be visiting. It’s going to be a little different hosting Thanksgiving – I’ll be doing a lot more than just preparing a few sides, or a dessert, for a meal somewhere else. So much to do!

Start with dessert!

I typically like to start planning my Thanksgiving meal by choosing the dessert and work my way backwards. I know that may sound strange, but let’s blame my over-active sweet tooth. My more practical side says that I can make desserts ahead of time to free up the oven for the turkey and ham.

As we will be having guests for Thanksgiving, I will probably make two desserts so we can have a choice, as well as a few leftovers for the days to follow. I want my deserts to be exceptional and I think I found a winner.

Pecan pie that’s exceptional

I love pecan pie, but I’m always looking for some way to jazz it up a bit. I stumbled across this recipe and I think it will go above and beyond my traditional pie this Thanksgiving. The tart can be made ahead of time, but the whipped topping must be prepared within 3 or 4 hours of serving, so plan accordingly to avoid a last-minute surprise.

This year I’m giving thanks for my wife, my family and all my friends. I also want to thank all my readers – I appreciate your email and comments, and I hope you have a joyous holiday.

Live, Laugh, Love and Give Thanks.

Pecan and Chocolate Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraiche

Courtesy of Bon Appetit

Serves 8

  • 1 Pate Sucree disk (recipe follows)
  • All-purpose flour for dusting
  • 1 ½ cup chopped pecans plus 1 ½ to 2 cups pecan halves
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup dark corn syrup
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (I’m using dark chocolate) chopped
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup crème fraiche
  • 2 tsp bourbon (plus more for sipping)

Roll out the Pate Sucree disk on a lightly floured surface to a 1/8-inch thick round, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Transfer crust to tart pan; press onto bottom and up sides of pan. Trim dough flush with edge of pan. Chill for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F. Spread out chopped pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned and aromatic; 8 to 10 minutes.

Place butter into a small skillet over medium heat. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add the bean hull. Cook, swirling the pan a few times, until butter browns and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Discard the bean hull.

Whisk sugar, both corn syrups, and salt in large bowl. Whisk in warm brown butter, then the eggs; whisk to blend. Spread the chopped pecans in an even layer over the prepared tart shell. Scatter chocolate over the nuts. Place pecan halves in concentric circles over chopped pecans and chocolate. Pour the filling slowly and evenly over the nuts.

Bake tart until the filling is just set in center; 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for at least 30 minutes. The tart can sit at room temperature overnight.

Beat cream, crème fraiche, and bourbon until soft peaks form. This can be done up to 4 hours ahead of time and chilled. Just whisk before serving. Cut the tart into wedges and serve topped with the crème fraiche.

Pate Sucree

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ¼ cup plus 3 TBSP sugar
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Whisk egg yolks and cream in a small bowl; set aside. Pulse flour, butter, sugar, and salt in a food processor until a coarse “cornmeal” like mixture forms. With the machine running, gradually add the cream mixture; blend just to combine (do not overwork dough or crust will be tough).

Transfer dough to a large work surface. Knead just to incorporate, 4 to 5 turns. Divide dough in half; shape each half into a 1-inch thick disk and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours. Crust can be made a day ahead, just keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before rolling out. Crust can also be frozen for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before rolling.

Click Here to download a printable PDF of the recipes for this week!