It's almost turkey day, which means eating, drinking, napping -- more eating -- feeling thankfull and, of course, always having room for dessert.
The contenders: Southern Pecan Pie, Dutch Apple and Pumpkin Pie.
OK, I know what you're thinking: these are very traditional recipes, right?
That's why I came up with a couple ways to elevate all three with a simple, sweet twist -- while still staying true to the recipes below! I also shared some additional tips at the bottom based on how the baking went for me, which will hopefully help your own pastry experience.
Check out the results and let us know by tweeting @GMA which pie you prefer or which one would have you going back for seconds.
Southern Pecan Pie
Let me start by saying, I love pie, I love pecans (however you choose to pronounce it), but I have never been the biggest fan of the combination.
This recipe could not have been simpler. Although I had to go to three different grocery stores for dark corn syrup and still came up short, my heroic friend Janelle came through in the clutch with the save for our Friendsgiving feast.
But back to the pie. The chilled crust, a cup and a half of chopped pecans sprinkled in and the most luscious, sticky, sweet filling all baked to golden perfection.
To take this sweet treat to the next level, I made a simple dark chocolate, bourbon sauce and drizzled it on top.
To make the sauce I melted a tablespoon of salted butter over low heat in a small saucepan, added roughly chopped GOOD dark chocolate (about 3/4 cup) and stirred until smooth, added 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and stirred constantly until smooth, finished with a splash of bourbon and reduced, then serve.
The consensus in the newsroom taste test had this as the crowd favorite, too!
1 9-inch frozen pie crust or make your own
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or pecan halves
3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
3 tbsp salted butter melted
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Take frozen pie crust out of the freezer and place it on a baking sheet while preparing the filling.
Or, if you are using the homemade pie crust, prepare the crust, prick it with a few holes using a fork, and then stick it in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
In a medium bowl, whisk together beaten eggs, sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.
Place the pecans into the bottom of your pie crust.
Then pour the filling on top of the pecans.
Bake for about 45-50 minutes. Around the 20-minute mark, you may want to add some aluminum foil around the edges of your pie crust to keep it from getting too browned.
Oven times do vary, but basically, the middle of the pie should be set when done (not overly jiggly) and the center will puff up a bit.
Dutch Apple Pie
Dutch apple pie is hands down one of my favorites -- the flaky crust, tart sugar coated apples, the crisp butter and brown sugar crumbles on top, yum!
People on Pinterest know where it's at because this pie did not disappoint. Is there any better feeling than pinching bits of cold French butter, flour, sugar and spices?
Only the crunch of the warm topping with the perfectly soft apples as you take the first bite of pie. This recipe was very straightforward and the only thing I could think to improve upon it was some homemade salted caramel whipped cream.
I used some caramel sauce, Maldon salt flakes, heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar, whirled it up in an immersion blender, added a dollop and went into a lovely food coma.
This one was a huge crowd pleaser, so if you're looking for some seriously positive feedback make this recipe for your Thanksgiving table.
Crust: Store bought or use homemade recipe.
8 cups Granny Smith apples. cored (peeled, cored, and sliced)
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
3/4 cup White sugar
1/4 cup Brown sugar
1/4 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1/2 cup White sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 cup Butter (cold)
Check out the full recipe here.
Homemade Pumpkin Pie
I love a classic pumpkin pie, but I wanted to jazz it up (without changing the recipe) so I made a decorative crust for my pie. This recipe was extremely straightforward and came together easily.
I did a blind bake for the crust like the recipe suggested for about 15 minutes, 10 minutes covered with foil and pie weights and another five uncovered, then let it chill.
The filling was really easy: mix the dry ingredients, combine into the wet ingredients and pour into your pie crust then bake. I wanted to amp up the decor since it's such a simple looking dessert, so I hand-cut some leaves with my leftover pie dough scraps and made that the top edge of the crust.
I used the remaining pie dough, rolled it out and cut the shape of a turkey. Full disclosure -- parts of the leaves broke off while I was taking the pie pan out of the oven so when I was adding a tiny bit of chocolate ganache to the turkey's beak and feathers I grabbed a pastry brush, dipped it in the chocolate and painted the leaves too.
Chocolate pastry? Yes. Oh, and it was delicious.
Decorative crust makes all the difference. A little attention to detail and adding those special touches add some wow factor. The pie itself needs no improvement so this is a simple and fun way to catch people's attention with pumpkin pie.
1 store-bought or homemade pie crust
Pumpkin Pie Filling:
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs lightly beaten
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 and 1/4 cups evaporated milk
Get the full recipe here.
There's also a recipe for a homemade pie crust, but in the words of the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten, store bought is fine.
**Kelly's Top Baking Takeaways**
-- It's OK if you want to use a storebought crust, just make sure to read the thawing instructions carefully so it's ready to go when you are!
-- Double check your shopping list. Don't leave behind that extra bag of sugar just because you think one bag is enough. There's no guessing in baking.
-- Think about the size of your oven. Don't overcrowd things, if there's no room wait and bake in batches.
-- Invest in an oven thermometer. In my experience, unless your oven is brand new, chances are the temp could be off from what the dial reads. Even if it's only 5 to 10 degrees that's enough to throw off any baked good. And that's not good. Buy one. Use it.
-- Always have enough pie servers. No one wants to use the sticky pecan pie covered utensil for their silky pumpkin pie. Have one for each treat!
-- Have fun! Try not to let baking stress you out. It's sweet and ultimately you're (likely) doing this for people you love. They'll appreciate it, so allow yourself to enjoy the process, too!
Editor's note: This story was originally published on November 19, 2018.