Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Tomorrow I'm in charge of desserts and I've narrowed it down to the final contenders. Rest assured tonight there will be lots of sweet-talking as I'll be up to my elbows in butter and sugar.

Baked Pears Stuffed with Almonds, Orange and Chocolate in Flaky Pastry
Taken from Jamie's Kitchen; serves 4

4 perfectly ripe pears [or substitute poached apples or nectarines]
1½ oz. blanched almonds
5½ oz. butter
1¾ oz. sugar
zest of 1 orange
seeds from 1 vanilla bean
2½ oz. best-quality bittersweet chocolate [70% cocoa solids]
16 sheets of filo pastry, defrosted if frozen

Preheat oven to 325º F. Carefully peel the pears and carve out each core from the bottom [same for poached apples; with nectarines, remove the pits carefully], which will give you a hole about 1½ inches deep.

Put your blanched almonds into a food processor until very fine. Place in a bowl with 5 tablespoons of the butter, the sugar and the orange zest. Add vanilla seeds and mix until smooth. Bash up the chocolate into small pieces and add to mixture. Divide into 4 balls and put to one side.

Melt the remaining butter in a pan for brushing onto the filo pastry. Dampen a clean dish towel and wring it out—use this to cover the unused filo pastry so it doesn't become dry and brittle. Working with one piece at a time, brush a sheet with melted butter. The sheets may be about 12" x 17", so cut in half for 12" x 8½" pieces. Lay the next sheet of pastry on top and repeat until you have 4 brushed layers. Cut the layered pastry down to an 8" x 8" square.

Take one ball of almond mix and fill in the pear's hole, packing the excess filling around the pear's base. Place pear in the middle of the filo sqaure, then gather up the pastry around the stalk and pinch tight. You can leave it looking rustic and floppy as this will look lovely once it's cooked. Repeat process with other 3 pears.

Brush the outside of the pastry with any remaining melted butter, then bake on parchment-lined baking sheet for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crisp. Serve with fromage frais, crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with Maple Whipped Cream
From Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP; serves 6

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs [1 sleeve, ground in the food processor]
1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
1 can pureed pumpkin or 1¾ cups fresh
¼ teaspoon each ground allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
Maple Whipped Cream, recipe below

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a pie pan. Mix together with your fingers and press evenly to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. It helps to press the mixture with the bottom of a small measuring cup. Bake for ten minutes or until light brown. Let cool while you prepare the filling.

In a large bowl, beat together the ice cream, pumpkin and spices. Spread evenly into the cooled pie shell and stick in the freezer for at least three hours before serving.

To make the Maple Whipped Cream, whip 1 cup heavy cream using a standing mixer, handheld mixer or whisk until stiff peaks form. Whisk in 2 to 3 tablespoons real Vermont maple syrup to taste. When ready to serve, spread the top with Maple Whipped Cream.

What's cooking for your Thanksgiving feast?


Sarah's Fab Day said...

Mmmmm, yummy! This year I'm not in charge of anything exciting, the bread and a veggie. Pretty ho hum.

megan said...

Oh my! My mouth is watering for the Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie. I will have to give that one a try.
Happy Thanksgiving!

High-Heeled Foot in the door said...

Oh yum. I'm in charge of desserts to and I'm making: Nutella brownies, caramel apple crumb pie, pumpkin cheesecake and 5 layer bars. Wow that's a whole lot of sweets.

Those pears look amazing. I'm so tempted to try to make them, but I already bought my supplies for everything else.

Happy Baking!

Karen said...

That pear recipe sounds soooo delicious! Let us know how it turns out.

I made a hazelnut brown butter cake, thanks to Smitten Kitchen. And cornbread stuffing, which everyone knows is the best part!! Thanksgiving is such a fun holiday.

Karen said...

Btw, my bff made that ice cream pie from Goop and it turned out disastrous!! Although she left it in the freezer longer than the 2-3 hours specified (it says 'at least'). So be careful with that one!

Arlynn said...

How about both? I'm always up for the more is more when it comes to deserts.

I'll be making the Chocolate Devils Food Cake with Chocolate Ganache & White Chocolate Cream Filling with Peppermint Frosting, from Bon Appétit mag; we'll see how that one goes : )

And my mom, fabulous as always, is making two of her most famous pies - her crust is amazing & she won't give me the recipe - these famous pies are Praline Pecan Pie and always delish, traditional Apple pie. Yummers!

Enjoy your day!!!

jae said...

I vote for the pear dessert! That sounds delicious. I have 14 coming for Thanksgiving, so I'm in charge of the main things, but have guests who are bringing the rest. Have a happy happy day tomorrow.

Jessica said...


Courtney said...

Karen: The word disastrous has me freaking out a tiny bit! Anyone else try the GOOP pie? I made her caramelized Brussels sprouts earlier this week and they were so good, we didn't leave a morsel behind.

Meg said...

Wait, your desserts are super duper fancy!!! I love them, tres chic! Much cooler than my old fashioned pecan pie!!! Can't go wrong trusting gwyneth and jamie! How do you carry those pears from one house to another? Or do you make them onsite?? They look fragile!

Meg said...

I'd been eying that recipe over at GOOP, let us know how it turns out if that's what you make! I agree with Meg, you can't go wrong with either :)

paula said...

oh, yum. i will take both please.

The Lil Bee said...

Oh my gosh! Can I come over? You are brave, Courtney...and I'm very impressed!

Courtney said...

These both look delicious to me. I've been considering the Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie too, but reading the above comment on the disaster trial has me a little unsure now. If you do make it, let us know how it turns out!

And Happy Thanksgiving!

Joyce said...

Courtney, both you sound mmmm.... good!

Look at it this way if you decide to go with the ice cream and it doesn't turn out you will have a barrel of laughs over it and memories to share on the Thanksgivings ahead! Plus you save the calories for Christmas!!

I'm not an expert, but I did look over the recipe briefly and can't see what the problem would be.

Some of my first dinner parties still brings laughter to the table!

Keep us posted what you decided.

Happy Thanksgiving Courtney and many blessings!


Joyce said...


OK here is my 2cents and keep in mind 2cents is cheap advice! LOL..

I re-read the recipe. Maybe add a little less of the pumpkin then the recipe calls for. If I were making it tonight I would add a little pumpkin at a time and mix to get a good feel. If the ice cream starts to get too thin I would stop adding the pumpkin.

This recipe sounds wonderful. I saved it and will give it a try.

sam said...

i am making everything!
white wine and butter turkey
sausage and sage stuffing
herb mashed potatoes
cranberry currant sauce
green beans w/ olive oil and pepper
my best friend's grandmother's apple pie
and my holiday classic: pumpkin cake with maple cream cheese frosting!

your pear dessert looks amazing... i might make it at christmas.

happy thanksgiving!

Stephanie said...

OH. MY. WORD. Those both look AMAZING! I can't decide! Make both!

Joanna Goddard said...

OMG AMAZING! i would vote for the second, but it's such a close call!!! Maegan said...

I'm doing deserts too.. ..but a bit less complicated ...but just as delish! peanut butter cups....mmm.

MIMILEE said...

Looks YUMMY to me!!! I am preparing Crunchy Sweet Potato Souffle......with a recipe I have had for years. It is a family favorite. Have a wonderful day, Courtney!

P.S. My sister is hosting this year and this is ALL I had to bring! I love it!

MABELLE said...

Happy Thanksgiving lady!! :)

Sara Bradshaw said...

As it is Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you an incredible first-hand account of the terror attacks in Mumbai ( We have so much to be thankful for.
With love,

Apt. #34 said...

I'll take one of each please! I've got some confidence now that I managed thanksgiving dinner without giving anyone food poisoning