Best of MacroChef: Six Sweet Recipes To Make For Thanksgiving



Yesterday, I promised to repost six of my sweet recipes which would be great to make for Thanksgiving, or for any meal this time of year.  So here they are, beginning with cranberry sauce.  Yes, you can buy cranberry sauce, but why would you when it is so easy to make?  You’ll also find recipes for pecan pie made with dates and maple syrup rather than corn syrup and sugar, and for gingerbread cake, another of my favorites (serve with a tasty vegan caramel sauce). This season’s pears are still in the markets, so why not bake a pear spice cake?  And does the pie have to be pumpkin? Sweet potato pie is a swell alternative, or you could use my recipe as a template for your pumpkin pie–if you must! Finally, I’ve included a recipe using that sadly neglected autumn fruit, the persimmon. You really can’t go wrong with persimmon pudding, a dessert which just tastes like autumn. Take a moment to comment, letting MacroChef readers know what you’re cooking up for Thanksgiving! All recipes, as usual, after the jump.



CRANBERRY SAUCE (with pears or apples)

(4 cups or 5-6 servings)

This naturally-sweetened sauce is better made well ahead of time so it can thoroughly cool and the flavors meld.

3/4 cup brown rice syrup

1/4 cup maple syrup (or to taste)

one 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries, washed and picked over

2 apples or pears, cored and diced

pinch sea salt

1 orange, the zest, grated, and 2 tablespoons of the juice

Heat the rice syrup and maple syrup in a thick-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat.  When it begins to foam, lower heat a bit and the add the apples or pears and simmer 4-5 minutes. Add cranberries and salt and simmer over low heat, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking on the bottom. Cook 10-12 minutes or until most of the cranberries burst and become tender (frozen cranberries will take a few minutes longer). Turn off the heat and stir in the orange juice and zest. Cool to room temperature or chill before serving.



PECAN PIE (Sweetened with Dates and Maple Syrup)

(one 10-inch tart, 8-10 servings)

You will need one single crust pastry shell, pre-baked, or try the recipe below.

For the filling:

2 1/4 cups pecan pieces

1 cup pitted dates, packed

1/4 cup barley malt syrup

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup soy or rice milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

pinch salt

1 cup whole pecan pieces, reserved

Plus 2 tablespoons each barley malt and maple syrup for the glaze

1. Combine the pecan pieces, dates, barley malt syrup, maple syrup, vanilla, soy milk-arrowroot  slurry and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until everything is well combined.

2. Pour this mixture into a pie shell. Spread out evenly, arrange the reserved cup of pecans attractively over the top, pressing them in lightly. Bake at 350º F 25-30 minutes or until the filling has firmed up.

3. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. After the pie has baked about 25 minutes, remove pie briefly from the oven and brush lightly with this mixture.  Return to oven and bake another 10-12 minutes or until glaze and pie filling are set.

4. Cool thoroughly before serving.


Pecan-Coconut Crust

I’m experimenting with the use of coconut products in baking, so I created this recipe using coconut oil and coconut milk.  If  you don’t want to go in that direction, substitute canola oil and soy or rice milk. This pastry is delicate, so I only rolled it out part way, then lifted it into the pan and pressed it into place.  Bake briefly, remember it will be in the oven again for half an hour.

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup pecans, ground into a fine meal

tiny pinch of salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut milk

1. Measure the flour, pecans and salt into a mixing bowl.  Work in the coconut oil.

2. Add the maple syrup and coconut milk. Mix together well to form a soft dough.

3. Lightly flour a rolling surface and partially roll out the dough, adding a little more flour if needed.

4. Place in the tart pan and press into place.

5. Bake in a 350º F oven for 12-15 minutes.  Watch carefully, it should be slightly under-baked when you remove it from the oven.


Rich Vanilla Tofu Creme

(yields about 3 cups)

14 ounce package firm tofu, thoroughly drained

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut cream (thick part of coconut milk)

3 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Combine everything in a food processor or blender and blend until very smooth and creamy.

2. It’s best to make this ahead of time and allow it to chill for at least 3-4 hours so it can firm up and the flavors meld.

Variations: Add chopped, crystallized ginger, or orange zest.




Preheat oven to 350º F, lightly oil a 9 x 9-inch cake pan

Wet ingredients:

3/4 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)

3/4 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup soy or rice milk

1/2 cup canola or similar light oil

2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and  grated (about 3 tablespoons)

4 tablespoons finely ground flax seeds dissolved in 3/4 cup water

Dry ingredients:

1 cup unbleached white flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

tiny pinch of salt

1. Combine the ground flax seeds and water in your blender bowl.  Blend on high until completely blended.  Add the remaining wet ingredients and blend well on high.

2. Sift the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Stir well to combine.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well to combine.

4. Pour this batter into an oiled 9 x 9-inch baking pan and bake at 350º F 40 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. Cool partially on a cooling rack before cutting and serving with fruit, whipped or frozen topping or caramel sauce (see below).

VEGAN CARAMEL SAUCE (yields 1 1/2 cups)

This sauce can be made in about five minutes, but allow 15 minutes for it to partially cool and thicken.

1/2 cup barley malt syrup

1/2 cup rice syrup

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional, but adds to complexity of flavor)

2 tablespoons Earth Balance

2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup soy or rice milk

tiny pinch of salt

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a sauce pan.  Heat over medium high heat, stirring constantly, just until it comes to a boil. Turn down heat a bit.

2. Measure the soy milk into a bowl, add a tiny pinch of salt and whisk in the corn starch or arrowroot, making sure it is completely dissolved, then pour this into the syrup mixture.  Whisk constantly over medium heat for about two minutes.  Pour into a serving bowl and allow this sauce to cool and thicken before serving.  Will keep for ten days to two weeks, refrigerated.  Always warm before serving.



Yield: 9” cake pan or 12 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350º F

Dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
pinch salt
1/2 cup chopped, roasted walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups diced, cored and peeled bosc pears (4 medium pears)

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup molasses
1 cup water (or as needed)

1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the first seven ingredients. Stir
in the raisins and walnuts.
2.  Blend together the wet ingredients until emulsified.
3. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until thoroughly combined.
4. Lightly oil a 9” cake pan and spread the pears evenly in the pan.
5. Pour batter over the pears, smooth the top of the batter and bake at 350º F about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool a bit before cutting and serving with a caramel sauce or your favorite whipped or frozen topping.



Yields one 10-inch pie, 8-10 servings / Preheat oven to 350˚ F

For the filling:

4 cups sweet potato purée seasoned with a little pinch of salt

3/4 cup thick coconut milk

1/2 cup rice syrup, or sweetener of choice (if using a more intense sweetener such as maple syrup or honey, start by using less)

1 tablespoon arrowroot or corn starch

grated zest of one orange

1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg

1. If you haven’t already made the sweet potato purée: start with about 3 1/2 pounds of garnet yams or a similar sweet potato. Roast in a 400˚ F oven one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender to the touch. Reduce oven temperature to 350˚ F. Cool the sweet potatoes enough so you can peel them.  Then purée in a food processor.

2. In a small mixing bowl, measure the other ingredients and whisk together.

3. Add these ingredients to the sweet potatoes and process until everything is thoroughly mixed and smooth. Set aside until the pie crust is ready.

For the crust:

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 cup unbleached white flour

pinch of sea salt

1/4 cup chilled canola oil, or similar mild tasting oil

2 tablespoons thick coconut milk

1/4 cup ice water, or as needed

1. Measure the two flours and the salt into a small mixing bowl.  Whisk in the chilled oil.

2. Stir in the coconut milk and ice water.  Form into a ball. This should be moist and pliable, but not too wet. Add flour if it does seem too wet, water if it seems too dry.

3. Spread parchment paper over a cutting board, and sprinkle with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle large enough to fit a 10-inch pie pan and come up the sides.

4. When the dough is rolled out evenly and the right size, invert your pie pan over the dough. Then turn the cutting board over and allow the pie dough to gently fall into the pan. Press the crust into place. Cut the edges to make them even and crimp or flout them attractively. With a fork, poke some holes into the bottom crust so it doesn’t puff up.

5. Bake on the center shelf of a 350˚ F oven 5-7 minutes, or just until partially baked.

To finish the pie:

1. Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust. Smooth to make even.

2. Bake at 350˚ F 30-35 minutes or until the filling seems set.

3. Cool thoroughly before attempting to cut. Serve with a favorite whipped or frozen topping if you like.




Preheat oven to 350º F and prepare the bain marie: pour 3/4 inch water into a baking pan somewhat larger than the pan you will use for the pudding, place this larger pan in your oven.

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 corn flour

3 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch salt

1/4 cup chopped dried persimmons (optional)

Wet ingredients:

2 cups persimmon purée (2 large or 3 medium, fully-ripe Hachiya persimmons, stem removed, coarsely chopped and puréed in a blender)

1 1/2 cups rice or soy milk

3/4 cup maple syrup

zest and juice of one orange

2 teaspoons canola oil

1. In a large mixing bowl, measure and thoroughly stir together the dry ingredients.

2. Add the other wet ingredients to the persimmon purée in the blender and thoroughly blend.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix thoroughly (remember this is a pudding, so the batter will be much wetter than a cake batter).

4. Pour this batter into a lightly-oiled 9-inch by 9-inch or similar baking dish, place in your bain marie and bake in a 350º F oven for about an hour. Cool before serving with a sauce or frozen or whipped topping of your choice.

Variation: Add 2/3 cup of raisins and/or toasted, chopped walnuts.


11 responses

  1. Gingerbread cake can use 3 tab.. chia seeds soaked 15 min. in 1 cup of water. instead of flax seeds !! works great in any recipe in place of eggs.!!




  3. I am impressed that you use persimmons! Most people don’t use them, I think, because it is a lot of work to turn the fruit into pulp.

    I have a tree in my backyard. Very small crop this year across this part of Tennessee.


    • I think persimmons are beautiful, both taste-wise and visually. I love how they hang on the tree after all the leaves have dropped. I first learned to appreciate persimmons when I lived in Japan, where they typically dry them. The natural sugars come to the surface, it’s like eating candy. Really good.

  4. Hi – we are having 13 folks for the Holiday meal on Saturday (and not on Thursday-tomorrow).
    Looking at your Cranberry Sauce as posted in 2011 under “Best of MacroChef: Six Sweet Recipes To Make For Thanksgiving”. Can I just double this recipe (orig. 4 cups or 5-6 servings)? Does it freeze well? Thnaks and Happy Holidays!

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