November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Desserts: Fun Turkeys and Delicious Crisp

I hope that everyone had a happy, yummy Thanksgiving!  As I mentioned in my last post, this year I was co-responsible for desserts.  While my mother-in-law conquered the pumpkin pie, (which was delicious), I decided to follow tradition and make my family's pecan tarts, and try a new recipe for a pear, apple, cranberry crisp.  We also got together and made fun, whimsical turkey treats following a recipe she found in Taste of Home Magazine.

Needless to say, there was no dessert shortage and everything tasted great- it's a good thing we all get together for "Thanksgiving Part 2" on Black Friday so we could savor every last bite.

The turkeys were a big hit!  Made out of Keebler's Fudge Stripe cookies and Rice Krispie treats, embellished with candy corns, and held together with melted chocolate- they were both yummy and adorable.  My mother-in-law and I were surprised at how easy, (and reasonably quick) they were to make... a good bit more manageable than the turkey cupcakes I made last year!
First, we "glued" candy corn onto the back of a cookie with some melted chocolate.  While they were setting up in the refrigerator, we made the Rice Krispie treats, which we rolled into balls- the body of the turkeys.  Then, my mother-in-law attached the bodies and the candy corn feet to another cookie using chocolate glue.  While they were drying, I gave each turkey a candy corn face.
Then, we attached the tail feather cookie to the turkey's body using more melted chocolate.  Finally, my mother-in-law gave each turkey two chocolate dot eyes.  In the end, each turkey had a little personality of its own, and because of the tasty materials we used, everyone enjoyed eating them!  (Even our dog Honey, who never steals food from the table, took and ate four and a half of them!! Thankfully, it was not enough chocolate to make her sick.)

A little more "grown up", the crisp I made was phenomenal!!  I really wanted to make a dessert that used some of the wonderful fruit that is in season, without making the usual apple pie.  This crisp, an Ina Garten recipe from the Food Network, was exactly what I was looking for.  Made with in-season apples and pears, the fruit flavors are highlighted by fresh citrus and a little surprise of tart cranberries.  The topping provided just the right amount of seasonal spice and richness.  I will definitely be making this recipe part of my fall repertoire!

Pear, Apple and Cranberry Crisp
Ina Garten: Serves 8 (probably more)

2 lbs. ripe Bosc apples, (4 pears)
2 lbs. Macoun apples, (6 apples)*
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel, core and cut the apples and pears into large chunks.  Place the fruit into a large bowl, and add cranberries, zests, juices, sugar, flour and spices.  Stir to combine, then pour into 9x12x2 inch baking dish.

For the topping: Combine flour, sugar, salt, oatmeal and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for one minute, or until the mixture is in large crumbles.  Sprinkle topping over the fruit, covering entirely.

Place the baking dish on a sheet pan, (to catch any drippings from the fruit), and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly.  Serve warm.

Notes on this recipe: Although this recipe was wonderful as-is, next time I think that I will substitute the all-purpose flour in the topping with whole wheat flour to add some nutty flavor.  For Thanksgiving, I made this dish ahead of time.  The day before, I followed the recipe but did not bake- I covered in with foil and kept it in the refrigerator.  After getting to dinner, which was held at my husband's aunt's house, I put the crisp in the oven and baked for one hour. The timing was perfect: the crisp was still warm when we were finished with dinner and ready for dessert.  The next night, I tried the crisp cold... it was still delicious!

*My grocery store did not have Macoun apples, so I substituted Pink Lady apples.

Again, I hope that everyone really enjoyed their Thanksgivings! I had a lot to be thankful for this year, and definitely enjoyed my holiday.

Coming Soon: An annual cookie exchange... I'm not really sure what kind of cookie I will be making this year, but I will be back to share my cookie recipe and cookie exchange stories with you soon!  For now, I'm off to decorate the house for Christmas!

You can find the original crisp recipe here on the Food Network website. 

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