D is for the decadent and delicious holiday desserts recipes we love to prepare and present. These holiday desserts recipes aim to impress the sweet tooth of the gathered together. Dessert is a four letter word to the calorie conscious crowd, but at Thanksgiving and Christmas (it’s coming!) I offer up a just desserts justification. The holidays can find the cook, baker, host, hostess and holiday dinner maker stressed. Stressed spelled backward is desserts. Stress is bad, dessert is good. Practice moderation, eat a piece of cake or pie and laisez le bon temps rouler!
Cranberry-Orange Tart with Browned Butter Crust
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 ½ cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 50 wafers)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt, divided
¾ cup fresh cranberries
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
5 large eggs, divided
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 large egg yolks
Preheat oven to 350°. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; cook 6 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Let cool 5 minutes. Place wafer crumbs, brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine. Drizzle melted butter over top of crumb mixture; pulse to combine. Press crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Combine cranberries and 3 tablespoons water in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth. Combine cranberry puree, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Whisk together 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1 egg in a medium bowl. Drizzle hot cranberry mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly until combined. Return mixture to pan over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes or until mixture thickens. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on solids with the back of a spoon; discard solids.
Combine orange zest and juice, remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, remaining 8 tablespoons butter, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Whisk together egg yolks, remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and remaining 4 eggs in a medium bowl. Gradually drizzle hot orange mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return mixture to pan over medium heat; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids with the back of a spoon; discard solids. Spread orange filling into cooled crust, smoothing top. Spoon cranberry mixture over filling; smoothing top. Let tart cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours.
Black Bottom Pumpkin Pie
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1 cup crushed gingersnaps
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
2 cups whipping cream, divided
2 (1.4-oz.) chocolate-covered toffee candy bars, finely chopped
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste*
½ cup maple syrup
Garnish: semisweet chocolate shavings
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool 10 minutes. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, next 2 ingredients, and toasted pecans until blended. Press crumb mixture on bottom, up sides, and onto lip of a lightly greased 10-inch pie plate. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).
Microwave 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels and ½ cup whipping cream in a small microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring at 30-second intervals. Spoon chocolate mixture over bottom of pie crust; sprinkle candy bars over chocolate mixture. Cover and chill 1 hour or until chocolate mixture is set.
Meanwhile, whisk together sugar and flour in a heavy 3-qt. saucepan; add eggs, egg yolks, and milk, and whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until a pudding-like thickness. (Mixture will just begin to bubble and will hold soft peaks when whisk is lifted.) Remove from heat, and whisk in pumpkin and vanilla bean paste. Transfer to a bowl. Place heavy-duty plastic wrap directly on warm filling (to prevent a film from forming); chill 30 minutes. Spoon pumpkin mixture over chocolate; cover and chill 8 to 24 hours or until filling is firm.
Beat remaining 1 ½ cups cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add syrup, beating until soft peaks form. Spread or pipe over pie.
Easy Pecan Pie Bars
1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent rolls
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
¾ cup chopped pecans
½ cup corn syrup
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, leaving enough for a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Unroll dough, separate dough into 2 long rectangles and place in 13×9-inch pan; press over bottom and ½ inch up sides to form crust. Firmly press dough perforations to seal. Bake 8 minutes.
Combine all filling ingredients except ¾ cups pecans in bowl and mix well. Stir in pecans. Spread evenly over hot, partially baked crust. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until filling is set and golden brown. Cool about 1 hour; cut into bars.
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