11762 Thanksgiving Dessert
When I get invited to a potluck, I usually try to avoid bringing desserts since it always seems like there are always too many. The last potluck I was at, there were actually 4 trays of brownies. Four!! Not to mention, whenever I show up for my family’s Christmas party, other (more trusted) people are always taking care of the desserts. I’d hate to bring a mediocre dessert when my aunt provides 2-3 of her delicious homemade pies. She’s taken pastry classes and can do fancy stuff, so I stay away from the dessert arena.
Instead, I bring something savoury and usually vegetarian. My usual go-to item is an herbed beer bread with a crunchy buttery crust. I’ve pretty much nailed down the recipe by now and I usually pre-slice the whole thing and wrap it in alu foil so it looks pretty homemade.
This Thanksgiving, we’re crashing a friend’s family dinner, so I asked him what we should bring. Of course we could always bring wine if he was set for everything else, but I’d prefer to contribute something more labour-intensive to a meal that’s already going to be labour-intensive for the hosts. Also, I figure that if they have one less thing to make/worry about then that’s better for everyone. When my friend mentioned that he didn’t have a dessert yet, I was so utterly happy!
Finally, I can bring a dessert to a party! Finally.
I gave him my usual choices (like my go-to potluck item, I do also have trusted go-to desserts). I’m always willing to try a new recipe, but I’d rather not experiment when I’ll be bringing the only dessert for a holiday meal, so it’s best to just go with something I know will turn out tasty than have a new recipe turn into disaster and have to run out for a store-bought pie at the last minute. You should also know that I prefer to make desserts ahead of time and let them sit in the icebox overnight, so all three of my go-to desserts are preferably made this way. I think sitting overnight lets the flavours mingle together, and it also frees me to do something else the day of the party, like sit around at home or go for a bike ride.
(None of the three photos below are my own. I’ve borrowed them from other sites and provided links to them.)
1) Peanut butter pie
[link] Now, the peanut butter pie is usually something I reserve for my birthday party or for when Franny wants to host a smoked meats party. Yeah, it’s the perfect heavy ending to a ridiculously meat-laden meal. Don’t judge us. It’s good, but perhaps a bit too heavy after a Thanksgiving meal.
2) Berry trifle
[link] Sometimes I forget that people don’t know what trifle is. My friend had to look it up and then declared that it looked really amazingly good. It can also be quite alcoholic depending on the chef, so it can be a really nice ending to a meal.
For those who have never heard of or eaten trifle before, it’s basically layers of pound cake, pudding, and fruit all placed into a nice bowl (yes I have a trifle bowl). I soak the cake in a mixture of rum and juice, the ratio of alcohol to juice depending on how “adult” I’d like to make it. It’s a nice dessert and the fruit makes it light. The presentation is usually really pretty, but mine is definitely not as pretty as the photo above.
3) Green tea tiramisu
[link] This is perhaps my most favourite dessert to make, mostly because it seems more impressive than it is. It has only three main components: zabaglione filling, savioardi or ladyfinger cookies, and a liquid dip for the savioardi. Ok, is this already sounding too complicated? It really isn’t, I swear.
The zabalgione filling can be made ahead of time and is basically the same recipe for any flavour of tiramisu. I’ve seen some recipes where you forgo making the zabalgione and just mix whipped cream with some eggs and wine without cooking it to a custard, but I don’t really trust those. I usually use Anna Maria Volpi’s basic recipe and then customise the flavour for green tea instead. You could probably use any other flavour you like, perhaps fruit or something.
The zabaglione filling is simply a zabaglione custard (egg yolks, sugar, and wine cooked until thickened) mixed with mascarpone cheese and freshly whipped cream. I use store-bought savioardi since I’m simply not trustworthy enough to make consistently good ones myself. For the green tea flavouring, I brew a couple cups of very strong green tea and add a couple teaspoons of sugar and let cool to room temperature.
To assemble, dip the savioardi into the green tea (you can also arrange the cookies in the pan and brush the tea over if you prefer) and arrange as a single layer in the bottom of your pan. Shmear half of the zabaglione filling on top. Then repeat with a second layer of cookies and filling. If you happen to use a taller pan, you could try for three layers if you have enough filling and cookies. I usually whip up the leftover cream, spread it on top of the whole thing and then sprinkle with maccha powder. Put the whole thing in the fridge and let it sit for at least 4-6 hours, preferably overnight if you can.
I don’t really know why tiramisu sounds so impressive when it’s really so simple, but it is what it is. Oh, and if you don’t have the savioardi lying around, you can also just make a very simple zabaglione custard (just the egg yolks, sugar, and marsala wine) and serve it layered with whatever fresh fruit is in season for a light dessert with even less fuss.
This is the dessert I’ll be bringing to Thanksgiving dinner at my friend’s place this year. I might also include some cut fresh fruit as well for those who don’t want it.