the gifts of thanksgiving, and a recipe: pumpkin pie, the 2012 edition

The day after Thanksgiving was a beautiful day. We had no plans on that Friday – no errands to run, no school for the kids to attend, and no work to hurry off to. And, because of the abundance of leftovers in the fridge from the day before, there were no meals to cook.

After a lunch of turkey and dressing and green jello salad, we pulled the boxes of Christmas decorations out of storage and Sam unpacked our new artificial tree. Our old tree had two things going against it – first, the lights quit working on the bottom section two Christmases ago, and second, it was getting droopy. And while I love the smell of a fresh cut tree, my fear of the house catching fire due to spontaneous combustion of a crispy, dried out evergreen takes precedence any day. Hence, a new fake tree.

The kids and I unpacked the ornaments, and while I found high branches on which to hang the more fragile ones, Maddie and Oliver searched the lower branches for the perfect spot for each ornament they were in charge of hanging. The cats perched on a nearby chair, watching with anticipation as the sparkly objects were hung just out of reach, or so us humans thought. We took little breaks to warm our hands by the fire, because even though it was 68 outside, the house was chilly. And also because having a fire burning in the fireplace is a must when decorating the Christmas tree.

Later that evening, I cuddled on the sofa with the kids, the three of us covered with Oliver’s red blanket, and we watched Elf together. Maddie and Oliver snuggled together, laughing at the antics of Buddy the Elf and smiling when Zooey Deschanel’s voice filled the room with Christmas carols. The lights on the Christmas tree twinkled and gave the living room a warm glow. And I thought about how lucky we are to have each other.

Thanksgiving – the day itself and the days that followed – were filled with moments like these, moments of feeling incredibly blessed.

To me, that’s the beauty of Thanksgiving. It’s the one holiday of the year where the focus is not on material gifts — no baskets filled with foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, or plastic jack-o-lanterns overflowing with sweets, or stockings overflowing with gifts from Santa. On Thanksgiving, we can simply be grateful for those beautiful people who surround us.

On Thanksgiving, there are gifts, but they are ones that are less tangible and infinitely more valuable — they are the gifts of love and family and friendship.

And, of course, good food.

*  *  *  *  *

Even after prior bouts of recipe testing, I was at it again in the days before Thanksgiving this year. In an eternal recipe competition with myself, in attempt to best my own recipes, I’ve come up with the 2012 edition of the Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie.

I made two of these beauties for last Thursday’s feast. I always make them the day before, saving Thanksgiving morning for more pressing matters — like the turkey, the Parker House rolls, and my Waldorf salad. I used my all-butter pastry crust, and together, the combination is a winning one.

So this is the final edition, the easiest and best tasting pumpkin pie recipe I’ve got in my repertoire. And finally, I think I’m done.  I’m done with the pumpkin pie testing.

Well, at least until next year.

Yield: 1 9-inch pie.

Pumpkin Pie with Molasses

The molasses flavor in the pumpkin pie is subtle but it adds a nice dimension to the pie. And while blind baking the pie crust seems like an extra step, I think it really is a necessary step. There's not much worse than a beautiful slice of pumpkin pie with a limp, raw bottom crust.


Pastry dough for a single-crust, 9-inch deep dish pie
3/4 cup (150 grams) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup half-and-half
1-1/2 tablespoons molasses


Blind Bake the Crust:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place oven rack in middle position.

On a well-floured surface, roll pastry dough into a 12-inch circle with a thickness of approximately 1/8-inch. Gently fit the dough into your pie plate, taking care not to stretch the dough, and trimm overhang to 1/2-inch. Crimp the edges with your thumb and finger or with the tines of a fork. Refrigerate the pie crust for 15 minutes.

Line the pie crust with parchment or nonstick aluminum foil (nonstick side down) and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or pennies. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully remove pie plate from oven, and then remove foil or parchment and pie weights.

Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Prepare Pumpkin Pie:

Whisk together sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Add in the eggs, egg yolk, pumpkin, vanilla, half-and-half, and molasses. Whisk the ingredients together until well blended.

Pour pumpkin pie filling into the still warm pie crust. Bake pie for 60 to 65 minutes, or until set in the center. Cool on a rack; serve with sweetened whipped cream.

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28 Responses to “potato doughnuts with cardamom and cinnamon”

  1. kitchen Minions — June 5, 2011 @ 11:58 am

    I’m scared of frying too, but I’m also scared that I’ll enjoy it and start eating too much of it! What did you do with all of the excess oil?

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — June 5th, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

      This is embarrassing, but the oil is still sitting covered in the dutch oven on my counter. When I finally get around to buying a funnel, I’m going to put it back in a container and dispose of it properly.

  2. Aggie — June 5, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

    I have a fear of hot oil too. Won’t do it at home, freaks me out!

    These look SO good!!! I wish I could pick one off that plate!

  3. See, I too, have a fear of frying. I have to tackle it like you have and figure it on out. All these donut posts are making me hungry!

  4. Burwell General Store — June 5, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

    I am so glad you joined in the swap! It’s really fun, and this recipe looks amazing, and easy. I am also glad we finally met, I love your work, and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) more recipe swaps in the future!

  5. PolaM — June 6, 2011 @ 12:21 am

    Great job there with your first swap! I love how these swaps push you to overcome fears and try new things!

  6. Shari — June 6, 2011 @ 12:42 am

    I love tea – however, when I was living in Sydney a glass teapot shattered in my hand and sent the searing liquid all over my hand and belly… leaving some pretty awful burns. Thankfully, I fully recovered without scarring, but I now will never take a hot beverage in a glass container!

    Such a lovely post and AMAZING photography for your first contribution to the recipe swap – I look forward to following you from now on 🙂

    Shari from

  7. Boulder Locavore — June 6, 2011 @ 10:03 am

    These sound great! Love the flavors you used for the donut holes! So glad you’ve joined the swap.

  8. Marly — June 6, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    Being vegan I’m always looking for things that can add moisture in a recipe while also creating binding – to replace eggs in a recipe. I have tried mashed potatoes in a recipe before and was pleased to see that no one in my family caught on. But I never thought of using them in donuts before. What a great idea! Love it!

  9. Alli Shircliff — June 6, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

    I was totally in the same boat as you with the fear of the hot oil…glad we both survived! Your doughnuts look so good, I want to grab one through the computer!

  10. Chef Dennis — June 6, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    Great job with the recipe, those donuts look delicious and what a interesting combination of spices for those little beauties!
    I would love to try a few!!

  11. claire — June 6, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

    hot oil makes me nervous too!

    they look gorgeous though!
    I am so sad I missed the swap… I cant wait for next months!

  12. Gail — June 7, 2011 @ 8:04 am

    Congratulations MJ! These donuts look and sound divine….the texture must have been really interesting, too!

    Have you flambéd? That was a huge fear of mine!

  13. Ethan — June 7, 2011 @ 10:24 am

    Can I say I’m proud of you for conquering one of your fears without it sounding cheesy?
    Well, proud of you! It’s nice getting over one of your fears when there’s something to eat at the end of it:)

  14. Winnie — June 7, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

    Wow these look amazing. I do VERY infrequent frying projects and have yet to attempt donuts. One of these days…

  15. It takes a lot to convince me to get out my big stock pot and heat up oil for frying… But, these doughnuts may just be the inspiration I needed. I’m wondering how they’d taste made with sweet potatoes, too… Sounds perfect for the fall.

  16. I was lucky enough to have been given a deep fryer and it has helped ease my fears of having oil splash and hit me in the face.

    These doughnuts are delightful. They look so rich and crispy, but light in the middle.

  17. Liz — June 8, 2011 @ 7:44 am

    Mmmmm….these look bakery perfect! Gorgeous gems~

  18. Jessica @ How Sweet — June 8, 2011 @ 10:16 am

    LOVE these! They look absolutely fabulous.

  19. I guess it’s just because of the way I learned to cook, but I’ve never had any fear at all of hot oil. “Back in the day” a typical meal consisted of a meat, usually something fried, with two or three vegetables. And some of the veggies could be fried as well. Of course, I don’t do it so much any more simply because of the smell and mess but I’m gonna get out a big old bottle of oil and give these doughnuts a go!

  20. Feast on the Cheap — June 8, 2011 @ 11:42 am

    Good grief, these look soooooo good. Love the dash of cardamom

  21. I kind of have a fear of frying myself, but I guess they always say it’s best to face you fears head on and these certainly look worth it!

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  23. SMITH BITES — June 10, 2011 @ 7:50 am

    potato doughnuts . . . potato. doughnut. yep, am pretty sure if i had a phobia of frying in oil, i’d close my eyes and leap for this recipe alone . . .

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  25. Megan's Cookin' — August 7, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

    I’m not much of a deep fryer either but these donuts sound heavenly!

  26. Lisa {With Style and Grace} — August 26, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

    I too have a fear of frying – guess the only way to get over it is to do it… night try this with sweet potatoes. A little bite of comfort.

  27. sophistimom — August 29, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    Everyone tells me how much better potato doughnuts are. I’ll have to try them now. Thank you for the recipe.

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