The Grand Thanksgiving Finale: Desserts

From the kitchens of Amy & JJ

Thanksgiving is almost here! And, over the last few weeks we have suggested turkey brines and side dishes. This week, the grand finale: desserts! We have a few options outside of the traditional pie, but Amy got close with the first recipe:

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
2 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (store bought or homemade)
whip cream, optional

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, granulated sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until well combined. Blend in eggs one at a time, until smooth.
3. Remove 1 1/3 cups of the cheesecake batter and spread it into the bottom of the graham cracker crust; set aside.
4. Add the pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice to the remaining cheesecake batter and whisk gently until well combined. Carefully spread the pumpkin layer over the plain cheesecake layer with a spatula.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool (about 1 hour), then refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.
6. Serve with whipped cream, if desired!
(From JJ) This is the classiest thing we make in our kitchen. By far. The final look of these pears are an instant WOW factor. Note for those entertaining, it’s all about the reveal. You might even want to pick up some specialty bowls to maximize the show-off when you put these on the table. Note, I tried this with canned pears once…it was a disaster.

WOW Pears
1/2 C Sugar
1 Orange Peel
1 C Orange Juice
10 Whole Cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Cups Red Wine (the deeper the red, the better)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
6 medium pears

1. In a saucepan, bring to a light simmer the following ingredients: sugar, wine, orange juice, vanilla, cloves and cinnamon stick.
2. Peel the pears and place them in the liquid (I leave the stems on the pears, but they can be removed, do not slice or halve the pears) – make sure they get fully covered. If there is not enough liquid to cover, add equal parts wine or orange juice until topped.
3. Let the pears simmer for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to make sure they are evenly cooked.
4. Remove the saucepan from heat and cool with the pears in the sauce
5. Transfer the pears AND liquid to a container (pears should still be covered) and cool overnight, soaking in the sauce. Overnight the pears will develop a VERY rich red color.
6. To serve, you can choose for the dish to be cool or warm. To warm, just add liquid and pears to a saucepan and bring up temperature (DO NOT BOIL). When serving, strain the liquid and serve just the pear. Complemented by whip cream, vanilla ice cream or a wafer cookie.

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