When choosing a Thanksgiving dessert, first find out what everybody else is making because you don’t want duplications, says pastry chef Duff Goldman, a judge on the Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship.”
And consider a few basics:
It is best to prepare pie and cookie doughs ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator. For any dessert with a crust, “most of the time is usually spent in preparing the dough,” he says. “This way it is done and is out of the way. So when it comes to filling the pie, you won’t be running out of time.”
Goldman says the earliest a pie should be made is the night before. “Baked goods are best when fresh.”
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A common mistake by home bakers, he says, is overmixing the dough. They need to be gentle when mixing the flours.
He suggests using browned butter to take baked goods to a whole other level of nutty flavor. Try crinkling sugar on top of a pie and then bruleeing it, or adding a drizzle of chocolate on top, too.
Goldman says holiday hosts should always have some extra frozen pie dough in case a recipe fails or the guest list unexpectedly grows longer. Extra whipped cream would be good, too.
Pumpkin is the king of Thanksgiving pies. Here is another to consider:
PECAN PIE WITH PRETZEL CRUST
1 1/4 cups salted pretzels, crushed well
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 6 tablespoons, cut into pieces
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add crushed pretzels, flour, sugar and melted butter to a medium bowl and stir until combined.
Dump the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate, and press it evenly around the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, until firm.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter pieces and salt and bring to boil, while stirring.
Remove from the heat and cool. Whisk in eggs and then stir in pecans with a wooden ladle.
Pour mixture into the pretzel crust and bake for 50 minutes. Cool the pie completely before serving.
Adapted from “Jamie Deen’s Good Food” by Jamie Deen.
LEMON CHESS PIE
Makes 1 9-inch pie
This lemony version of the Southern chess pie with cornmeal in it is destined to become an annual favorite. To brown butter, slowly simmer butter over medium-low heat until the solids have separated and are lightly browned. Remove from heat but make sure it stays melted.
1/2 recipe Pie Dough
2 large eggs, plus 6 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup browned butter
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out pie dough into a 14-inch round that’s 1/4 -inch thick. Lay it gently into a 9-inch pan, making sure the pan is completely lined with the dough. Trim and crimp the edge.
Lay a circle of parchment paper and some pie weights or dry beans on the bottom of the crust. Blind bake the crust for 5 minutes. Remove weights and bake for 4 more minutes, until crust is a matte blond color. Set aside.
In a large bowl, lightly whisk eggs and salt. Then one at a time whisk in the sugars, vanilla cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, browned butter, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Pour mixture into the crust, and cover edges of the crust with foil.
Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes, until the pie looks mostly set, just slightly jiggly in the very center.
Let it cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Let the pie return to room temperature before slicing and serving.
Adapted from “Duff Bakes” by Duff Goldman (William Morrow; Nov. 3, 2015; $27.50).