Thanksgiving Dessert Menu

I have the fondest memories congregating en famille on those cool November days.  Our Thanksgiving celebrations were usually pot luck style.  Since my family is so large, everyone was responsible for a dish, as to not overburden the already gracious hostess.

My aunt’s kitchen was always bursting with fall colors and smells wafting from the crowded stove and overworked oven.  Her dining room table was cluttered with all sorts of delicious cakes and pies and cookies and brownies.  As the afternoon hours ticked away, her kitchen would fill in with Pumpkin Pie and Chocolate and Pecan pies from Grandma Sylvia; Baked Brie and 7-layer dip and Sweet Potatoes /Marshmallows from Mom; homemade Caesar Salad from Uncle Buzz.  Everyone took pride in their respective cooking assignments.  As a result, there was always much more food than could ever be imagined.

I’m sure many people approach this one day of year with the license to over-indulge.  Whereas one piece of pie would normally be substantial, on Thanksgiving we push the limits and tend to sample away.  I mean, how could I only have one slice of pumpkin pie when my Grandma also made Pecan and Chocolate Pies too?

For Thanksgiving 2012, I’m test running two of Mom’s recipes found tucked away in her attic just weeks ago- entire folder of yellowed, crumpled sheets of paper overflowed with handwritten recipes from 1970!  As luck would have it, many of the recipes would be ideal seasonal dishes for a Thanksgiving table but, having a sweet craving, I selected two to experiment:  Bourbon Nut Cake and Pumpkin Pudding.

Mom’s Bourbon Nut Cake recipe signifies fall.

Some prominent ingredients are nutmeg, chopped walnuts, and even Bourbon.  I also love the fact the batter is so basic – a merger between yellow cake mix and instant pudding mix.  The glaze looked especially tasty combining sugar and (more) Bourbon and milk.

I also used two teaspoonfuls of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! as it’s very easy to scoop, measure and mix with the other ingredients  for the glaze.   And, it’s all made in a Bundt pan.  I almost never bake with a Bundt pan.  Most of my baked desserts come fresh from a 9×13” Pyrex dish.  A Bundt pan!  How exciting.

Final Glazed Bourbon Nut Cake


Mom’s Pumpkin Pudding is not at all what you’d expect from a dessert with the pudding moniker.  It’s not served in a bowl and eaten scooped with a spoon.  In fact, the pudding bakes in a Bundt pan and, therefore not amorphous.  Take one good look at the list of ingredients and you’ll understand why this particular “pudding” becomes very dense and springy.   The ingredients in this recipe are also seasonal:  a can of pureed pumpkin, lots of yummy cinnamon, golden raisins, walnuts, lots of sugar and very generous portions of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spread.  The addition of the Armagnac brandy also laces the dessert with a faint oaky flavor in the same way the Bourbon lends an afterthought of warmth to the Nut Cake.

Pumpkin Pudding Pre-Bake

Both desserts, although very different from one another, received two thumbs from my kid discerning food critiques.

Easily adorned with small gourds, cranberries, dried leaves and they make beautiful centerpieces for any Thanksgiving dessert table.

Only caveat: my 10-year old said the desserts must be served with full disclosure to kids, since they do contain traces of alcohol….


Final Pumpkin Pudding

Thank you Good to Know & Unilever Spreads for being a sponsor.  I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective.  All opinions expressed here are my own.



  1. Judy, these are beautiful! I love Thanksgiving traditions!

    Thank you for sharing your mom’s recipes with us! 🙂

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