One thing we can all be thankful for this Thanksgiving is that it remains one of the few non-commercial holidays. It’s a special day—an opportunity to pause and consider just what we are thankful for—and for gathering with loved ones.


Whether you are feeding a crowd with a complement of traditional dishes or assembling a pared-down version, pumpkin pie is one of the cornerstones of the meal and a tasty annual treat. This year, however, perhaps it’s worth rethinking the turkey day dessert staple in favor of a more creative option.


With so many pumpkin-based desserts out there, it’s easy to impress your guests with these simple recipes. After all, Thanksgiving is about creating memories, and dazzling guests with a new twist on an old standby will certainly do the trick.


Recipes courtesy of the chefs at Christy Hill Restaurant, Tahoe City

1 Cup heavy cream
½ Cup brown sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Cup pumpkin puree
Pinch of salt, cinnamon and allspice

Makes 5 servings

Put all ingredients into a pot and cook until the mixture thickens. Cool enough to pour into a blender; blend until smooth. Put the mixture into a jar and let set for 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Serve with meringue or whipped cream.


½ Cup Butter
½ Cup Shortening
½ Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tbs Vanilla extract
3 Tbs Pumpkin puree
2 ¾ Cups all purpose flour
2 Tsp Cream of tartar
1 Tsp Baking soda
Pinch of salt, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice

Makes 15 medium cookies

Cream the butter, sugar and pumpkin puree together for 2 minutes, then add the dry ingredients until incorporated. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and dust with cinnamon sugar. To give it additional pizazz, cut the cookie in half horizontally and add cream cheese to the middle.

12oz Cream cheese
1 Vanilla bean
1 Tbs Vanilla extract
2 Tbs Sugar
1 Cup Crème fraiche
1 Cup Pumpkin puree
Pinch of salt and cinnamon

Using the paddle attachment, mix all in a KitchenAid mixer until incorporated. Fill bottom of jar or glass with Macadamia Nut Crust Streusel (below) and fill almost to the top with the cheesecake filling. Top with lemon curd or whip cream.

1 Cup Macadamia nuts
1 Cup Flour
¼ Pound butter
½ Cup Brown sugar
Pinch of Salt, cardamom, cinnamon

Pulse nuts in food processor until crushed and mix all ingredients except the butter in a bowl. Cut butter into cubes. Incorporate butter into the mix with hands. Alternatively, blend all ingredients in a food processor until chunky.

Pour mixture into a sheet pan and bake in the oven at 325. Every 5 minutes during cooking, remove from oven to stir with a spoon, until it turns brown. Should be slightly chunky.