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Five Yummy Pumpkin Alternatives To Pie

Dessert is one part of the Thanksgiving meal that can easily be made ahead of time. If you've ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner, you know that you're always looking for things you can mark off your list before Thursday!

And, while pumpkin pie is the traditional choice, there are plenty of other types of desserts with that same scrumptious, delicious pumpkin flavor.

On The Early Show Tuesday, Gale Gand, Executive Pastry Chef and owner of the award-winning Tru restaurant in Chicago, showcased five other pumpkin treats:

  • Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Baked Pumpkin Ricotta Custard with Cranberry Compote
  • Orange Pumpkin Bread Pudding with White Pepper Cream
  • North Grand High School Pumpkin Cookies
  • Pumpkin Maple Trifle

    Many of the desserts are individual-sized portions, making serving the final course much easier on the hostess!

    Gand is a member of the Macy's Culinary Council, a group of 16 respected chefs who do various culinary events for Macy's throughout the year. This year, the council members are helping spearhead a program called Macy's Million Meals. Working with the hunger-relief organization Feeding America, Macy's has pledged to serve one million meals to the hungry. Culinary Council members are helping serve many of these meals, and providing recipes for the various soup kitchens.


    Pumpkin Cupcakes

    Makes 18 cupcakes

    For the cupcakes
    3 large eggs
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
    1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild light molasses
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    2-3/4 cups flour
    2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt

    In a bowl, whisk the eggs well, then stir in the sugar and the oil. Then add the pumpkin, molasses and the buttermilk and stir well. In a separate bowl stir the dry ingredients together, then add them to the wet ingredients and stir just till blended. Spoon into paper lined muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let cool then top with cream cheese frosting.

    Cream Cheese Frosting
    8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    1/2 cup powdered sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

    Whip the cream cheese in a mixer with a whisk attachment. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread or pipe onto the cupcakes.

    Baked Pumpkin Ricotta Custard with Cranberry Compote

    For the custard

    Makes 6 servings, 6 ounces each, or 12 demi tasse cups

    12 ounces cream cheese, room temp
    3/4 cup fresh ricotta
    1 cup pumpkin puree
    4 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup heavy cream

    In a mixer with a whisk attachment cream the cream cheese till light, smooth and fluffy. Add the ricotta and continue mixing. Add the eggs and egg white gradually along with the vanilla extract and mix well. Lastly, mix in the sugar and the cream. Pour the batter into oven proof baking dishes and place them in a water bath. Bake at 250 degrees in a still oven for 45 minutes till set but still has no color. Chill till ready to serve. You may coat the top with coarse sugar and caramelize it under the broiler or with a blow torch for a crunchy bruléed topping. Serve topped with spoonfuls of Cranberry Compote.

    Cranberry Compote
    1 bag (12 ounce) fresh cranberries
    2 cups water
    2 cups sugar

    Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a full boil. The skins of the cranberries should all burst. Take off the heat and chill.

    For more recipes, go to Page 2.

  • Orange Pumpkin Bread Pudding with White Pepper Cream

    Makes 6-8 servings

    1/2 pound Brioche or Challah
    1 cup orange marmalade
    2 cups half-and-half
    2 cups heavy cream
    1 pinch salt
    1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
    6 eggs
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 cup pumpkin purée
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    Confectioner's sugar

    For the white pepper cream
    2 cups heavy cream
    1 cup crème fraiche
    2 teaspoons sugar
    fresh, finely-ground white pepper to taste

    Cut the crusts off the bread and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 3-1/2 cups of cubes. Arrange on a baking sheet and toast in a 400 degree still or 350 degree oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Place in a baking dish and drizzle with the marmalade.

    In a saucepan, heat the half-and-half, cream, salt, and vanilla bean over medium heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. When the cream mixture reaches a fast simmer (do not let it boil), turn off the heat. Set aside to infuse 10 to 15 minutes.

    In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together. Whisking constantly, gradually add the hot cream mixture then the pumpkin purée and cinnamon. Strain into a large bowl to smooth the mixture and remove the vanilla bean. Pour over toasted bread cubes and let soak over night, covered and chilled or at least 2 hours.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the baking dish in a pan of hot water to make a water bath. Bake until set and golden brown on top, about 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or chilled, dusted with confectioner's sugar and a dollop of white pepper cream if desired.

    To make the cream whip all the ingredients together till stiff and keep chilled.

    North Grand High School Pumpkin Cookies

    Makes 4 dozen

    2 1/3 cup flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup sugar
    1-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    1-1/4 teaspoon ginger
    1-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    1-1/4 teaspoon cloves
    1-1/4 cups butter, room temperature
    3 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    2 cups pumpkin puree

    In a mixer with a paddle attachment mix together the dry ingredients for 2 minutes. Add the butter, pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla and mix on medium speed 1 minute. Chill one hour. Scoop dough with a medium size ice cream scoop or a teaspoon onto a parchment paper lines sheet pan. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Cool.

    Pumpkin-Maple Trifle

    Makes 6-8 servings

    1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped
    1/2 vanilla bean, split
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    3/4 cup egg whites
    1/2 teaspoon gelatin
    1 tablespoon cold water
    1 cup pumpkin puree
    1 recipe any spice cake or carrot cake, cut into cubes
    1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts such as hazelnuts or pecans

    Whip the cream with the scrapings from the vanilla bean till stiff and chill. In a small saucepan boil the maple syrup to soft ball stage or 238 degrees on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let it sponge. Also, place the whites in a clean dry bowl and with a whip attachment whip then till almost stiff, then hold them with the whip turning on low till the maple syrup is up to temperature. When it reaches 238, take it off the stove and, with the mixer on high, drizzle it down the wall of the mixing bowl into the whites. Warm the sponged gelatin in the microwave and drizzle it into the whites also. Continue whipping till the meringue (Italian Meringue) is cooled. Fold in the pumpkin puree and the whipped cream and pipe or spoon into tall dessert glasses, alternating layers with the cubed up spice cake, ending with the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with some toasted nuts if you have them. Chill till ready to serve.
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