If it's your turn to bring dessert to the Thanksgiving table and pumpkin pie is a must, look no further than the recipe on the side of the Libby's can. It's tried and true.
Besides, you can easily gussy it up by tinkering with it. If your crowd is amenable, however, you may offer pumpkin for dessert in other guises. We suggest a tender sour cream-pumpkin cake, a pumpkin cheesecake that once sampled will become a yearly favorite, and sumptuous pumpkin crème brûlée, which is really just a rich pumpkin pie filling without the crust.
Here are a few other quick tricks:
Many people push aside the pie crust anyhow, to save calories, so why bother making it? Bake that same old pumpkin "pie" filling without a crust, call it "crustless pie" and start a new tradition.
Make pumpkin ice cream by softening good-quality vanilla ice cream and mashing pumpkin puree into it; then refreeze. Or make pumpkin "mousse": Fold pumpkin puree and a dash each of cinnamon and allspice into real, lightly sweetened whipped cream, chill well and serve in stemmed glasses.
SOUR CREAM-PUMPKIN BUNDT CAKE
This recipe is adapted from one I clipped out of Capper's, a farm weekly. I wanted more streusel, and I added the nutmeg. If you like, you also could add a touch of cloves or allspice.
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed, or milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan or a 10-inch tube pan.
2. For streusel, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and flour in a bowl. Sprinkle in vanilla. Cut in butter with a pastry blender, 2 knives, or clean fingers, until mixture is crumbly.
3. For cake batter, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
4. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin, sour cream and vanilla extract; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
5. Spoon half the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle streusel mixture over batter, not allowing it to touch sides of pan. Top with remaining batter, making sure batter layer reaches sides of pan.
6. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes in pan on wire rack. Invert onto wire rack and remove from pan to cool completely.
7. To make glaze, combine confectioners' sugar and orange juice in a small bowl and stir until smooth. When cake is cool, drizzle with glaze. Makes 16 servings.
Note: If using milk for the glaze, add a pinch of salt.
CINDY'S PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE
This cake is based on one made by a friend's sister, Cindy Shook.
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
15 ounces pumpkin puree (canned is fine, but do not use seasoned pie filling)
16 ounces sour cream
4 ounces sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and egg yolks until smooth.
3. Add flour, cinnamon, cloves and ginger to cheese mixture. Beat in heavy cream, vanilla and pumpkin puree and blend thoroughly.
4. Pour batter into a 10-inch springform pan. (If your pan has become somewhat bent, cover the outside securely with aluminum foil to protect against leaks.)
Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes until center is almost set. Turn off oven and allow cake to sit 15 to 20 minutes in closed oven. (The cake may crack on top; don't worry if this happens.)
5. While cake is standing in oven, prepare topping. Blend sour cream and sugar until smooth; cover and refrigerate. Remove cake from oven and let cool in pan to room temperature. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
6. Slide knife around edges of cake and unhinge springform pan. Spread top of cake with topping. Return to a preheated 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove, cool and refrigerate again until ready to serve. Makes 12 or more servings.
PUMPKIN CRÈME BRÛLÉE
3 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar, or more as needed, divided
10 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1 1/2 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin (not seasoned pie filling)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Place a 10-inch shallow ceramic dish (such as a quiche pan, or a 9-inch pie plate that will hold 4 cups) inside a large sheet-cake pan or roasting pan.
3. In a medium saucepan, combine cream, brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring. When sugar is dissolved, remove from heat.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks until frothy. Slowly add 1 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Then slowly add the remaining cream mixture a little at a time.
5. Add vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and pumpkin. Blend well.
6. Pour mixture into dish. Add enough water to go halfway up the side of the pan. Bake until the center is only slightly set, still a little jiggly, about 55 minutes. The center will set some more after it is removed from the oven. Remove from oven, remove from water and cool. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. (This may be made a day ahead.)
7. Just before serving, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar or a bit more to reach about 1/8 inch over the top and use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. Alternatively, place dish under the broiler until sugar is caramelized. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Note: 8 to 10 (6-ounce) individual ramekins may be used instead. The baking time will be shorter.