Man Lab: Desserts for Canadian Thanksgiving

If you’re in America, you’re wondering what the hell I’m on about with recipes for Thanksgiving dessert. Well, Thanksgiving in Canada is this Monday. Everyone knows that the entrée for Thanksgiving has to be a turkey. Sides should be stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash and cranberry sauce. But that leaves dessert. I’ve never found a consensus for Thanksgiving dessert. Pumpkin pie seems traditional but apple pie is also a popular dish. I’ve also found another use for pumpkin in your dessert. So here are three Thanksgiving dessert recipes for you to try this weekend.

Pumpkin Pie

Pastry Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 to 5 tbsp ice water

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (500 mL)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons fancy molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or orange liqueur


For pastry, freeze butter and shortening for 30 minutes. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the butter and shortening into flour. Toss this mixture with your fingers to coat the fats, breaking up lumps with your fingers as you go. The dough should be a rough, crumbly texture and take on a slight yellow tone.

Add 3 Tbsp of the water and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon to bring dough together, adding a little more water if needed. Shape dough into a disc and chill for an hour before rolling.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to just under ¼-inch thick. Dust the bottom of a 9-inch pie shell with flour and line with dough. Trim edges, keeping scraps to roll and cut for garnish, if desired. Chill while preparing filling.

For filling, whisk pumpkin with brown sugar, molasses spices and salt. Whisk in eggs, then whipping cream and brandy or orange liqueur. Pour into chilled pie shell.

Bake for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until filling puffs just a little around edges but still has a bit of jiggle in center when moved. Allow to cool to room temperature, then chill completely.

To serve pumpkin pie warm, it is recommended to bake and chill completely, then re-warm in a 300 degrees F. oven for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with spiced whipped cream.

Apple Pie

Pastry Ingredients

  • 3/4cup shortening
  • 3 tbsp butter , softened
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Filling Ingredients

  • 8 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (2-1/4 lb)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour

Pie Crust Glaze Ingredients

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar


In bowl, beat shortening with butter until smooth; stir in flour and salt until coarse and ragged looking. Pour in water all at once; stir until loose dough forms. With floured hands, gather into 2 balls. On well-floured surface, gently knead each into 3/4-inch thick disc. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until chilled.

On well-floured pastry cloth or work surface and using stockinette-covered or well-floured rolling pin, roll out 1 piece of dough from centre, lifting pin at edge to maintain even thickness. Turn rolling pin clockwise 90 degrees. Repeat rolling out and turning dough until in 13-inch circle.

Loosely roll dough around rolling pin; unroll into 9-inch pie plate. Using sharp knife, trim edge even with pie plate.

In large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice. Stir together sugar, flour and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples and toss until coated. Scrape into pie shell. Brush pastry rim with water.

Roll out remaining dough to same-size circle. Using rolling pin, drape over apples, without stretching dough. Trim, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Gently lift bottom pastry rim and fold overhang under rim; press together to seal. Tilt sealed pastry rim up from pie plate at 45-degree angle.

With hand on outside of tilted pastry rim and using thumb and bent index finger, gently twist rim to form scalloped edge. With small decorative cutter or tip of sharp knife, cut steam vents in centre of pie.

Whisk yolk with 1 tbsp water; brush over crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake in bottom third of 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F; bake for 40 minutes or until golden, filling is bubbly and apples are soft when pierced with knife through vent. Let cool on rack.

Smashed Cheesecake with Poached Cumquats and Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream

Cheesecake Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 80ml Muscat
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and bean reserved
  • 250g sugar
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 350g goats curd,
  • 200g sour cream
  • 3.5 gelatine leaves, bloomed
  • Juice of 2 limes

Cheesecake Method

In a large bowl, combine the yolks, Muscat, vanilla and 125g sugar. Whisk to a light sabayon over a saucepan of boiling water.

Mix cream cheese and goats curd through sabayon. Add sour cream and stir to combine.

Beat egg whites and remaining sugar to a stiff meringue.

Melt gelatine in lime juice and add to cheese mix.

Fold in meringue and refrigerate to set.

Poached Cumquats Ingredients

  • 300ml maple syrup
  • 100ml vincotto
  • 10 juniper berries, crushed
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 star anise
  • ¼ nutmeg, grated
  • 30-40 cumquats, washed

Poached Cumquats Method

Place syrup, vincotto, and spices in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Add cumquats and poach for 8-10 minutes or until plump and juicy.

Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 30g butter
  • 500g pumpkin, grated
  • 350ml full cream milk
  • 150ml cream
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • ¼ whole nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 90g castor sugar
  • 4 egg yolks

Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream Method

Melt butter in a frying pan, add pumpkin and cook until softened and tender.

Pour milk and cream into a saucepan, add spices and bring to a gentle simmer. Strain.

Whisk sugar and egg yolks to combine.

Take ¼ – ½ cup spiced milk to pumpkin and puree until smooth. Pour remaining milk into yolks and whisk to combine. Pour into a clean saucepan and cook until thickened and custard thickly coats the back of a spoon.

Whisk over an ice bath to chill, add pumpkin and mix well to combine. Transfer to a pre-chilled ice-cream machine and churn until frozen. Freeze until required.

Shortbread Crumble Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g butter
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Shortbread Crumble Method

Preheat oven to 170⁰C.

Place flour, butter, sugar and sea salt in a food processor and process until mixture forms a ball. Remove, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten to form a disk. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to rest.

Place between two sheets of baking paper and roll to 3-4cm thick. Transfer to a baking tray, remove the top layer of baking paper and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds (pepitas). Bake for 10-15 minutes or until blonde.

Candied Vanilla Bean Ingredients

  • ¼ cup castor sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • Reserved vanilla bean, julienne
  • Extra sugar, for dusting

Candied Vanilla Bean Method

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat and bring to the boil. Reduce to low, add vanilla beans and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.

Remove and dry on a baking paper lined oven tray. Dust with extra castor sugar and set aside until required.

Assembly Method

To assemble, scoop cheesecake mix onto plate. Arrange scoops of ice cream around the cheesecake and garnish with cumquats, crumble and candied vanilla.

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