Thanksgiving Testing: Apple Caramel Upside-Down Cake

Every major holiday, I’m always amazed at my capacity for eating dessert. Even if I shoveled spoonful after spoonful of gravy-saturated mashed potatoes into my greedy trap, even if I ate a plate’s worth of chewy-crunchy stuffing, even if I’ve been at the sauce and never want to see a single cranberry again, all I need is an hour to make room for sweets. My “I’m so fulls!” quickly morph into “Another slice, please!” as I unashamedly fill my plate with as much dessert as I possibly can, being sure to try every vegan-friendly option I can find.

This Thanksgiving promises to be no different. Planning and executing a Thanksgiving dinner is a little daunting to me (my obsessive-compulsive side is begging for a spreadsheet of ingredients, a cooking/timing schedule, and beautifully printed menus, and it will get them soon enough!), but the thought of all the delicious food S and I will serve up keeps me from getting too worried. Even if the dinner lacks luster (which it won’t!), I know we’ll have some kick-ass desserts to fill our guests’ stomachs post-dinner and leave them with full, happy tummies. I’ve already tried a Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake (which, I’ll admit, grew on me since writing that post and might make its way onto my dessert table), and this weekend I made the Gluttonous Vegan’s Apple Caramel Upside-Down Cake.

Now, this cake does not feature actual!caramel. However, it does feature a top layer of nearly caramelized sugar that’s buttery, sweet and just as delicious as caramel. Paired with tender, sweet apples, it’s a winning combination. The cake itself is surprising in its lack of overt sweetness – it’s a tamer flavor, with hints of cinnamon but not much else. That lack of sweetness surprised me at first, but I soon began to appreciate it – it’s a great contrast with the sticky-sweet top layer. On the whole, this is a sophisticated, adult cake, and I’m looking forward to serving it with my other Thanksgiving desserts. I think it’ll provide a great counterpoint to the more traditional (and more sugary!) desserts I intend to serve, and it’ll pair nicely with a hot cup of post-dinner coffee. When I make it again, though, I’ll likely use some brown sugar in the cake itself and add a bit of nutmeg to enhance the cake’s flavor – it’s just the teeniest bit flat as written.

I’m so sorry for the picture-less post (my first in ages!), but I made this cake on Sunday and neglected to photograph it, and it’s looking really sorry right now – the few remaining pieces feature shriveled apple slices and stale edges. I won’t insult you with a photo of that, so just use your imagination or check out the original recipe post for some pretty pictures.

What dessert should I test out next? Do you always have room for dessert, or is your sweet tooth a little smaller than mine?


Thanksgiving Testing: Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Oops! I did it again. Every year after MoFo ends, my blog goes silent. Instead of keeping up the blogging momentum gained during a month of steady posting, I put a full stop on my posts and return to my lazy ways. My readers abandon me, I feel ashamed of my slothdom, and it’s bad news all around.

However, I’m going to resist the temptation of not posting for “just one more day…” because, hey, I’ve got stuff to say! I’ll recap my Italy trip soon, but first – cheesecake.

This year, I’m hosting Thanksgiving at my place. This is both exciting and terrifying. S and I will be cooking for our families, and I want to create a delicious meat-free meal that everyone will enjoy. I’m planning my crafty decorations, stocking up on sale-priced Soyatoo, and generally attempting to be the perfect hostess if it kills me! For the past few months I’ve been gathering promising Thanksgiving recipes, with the idea that I’ll try many of them out, weed out the weak ones, and find the stellar ones to serve for dinner. Or, after dinner, in the case of my first trial.

A piece of layered cheesecake on a plate; the bottom layer is white and the top is orange. In the background is another plated slice as well as a pumpkin.

Cheesecakes have layers!

I made Susan‘s Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake, a decidedly non-fat-free recipe on an otherwise fat-free blog. Although I try to keep my diet low in fat because it just makes me feel all-around healthier, I am a firm believer in enjoying myself to the fullest on holidays. So this recipe seemed like an obvious choice, as Susan’s recipes have always turned out really well.

Unfortunately, this one missed the mark a bit for me. There was nothing wrong with the cheesecake, really, but it just lacked a certain oomph that I want from my holiday desserts. The pumpkin flavor got lost somewhere, and it tasted a bit bland overall. That’s not to say that I didn’t eat nearly the entire thing in the course of a week and fully enjoy it. :) But it’s back to my Google Doc as I search for a similar cheesecake-type dessert to serve at Thanksgiving.

What’s your favorite dessert to serve at holidays? What tips do you have for entertaining and prepping a big meal? Have you tried and loved any great pumpkin cheesecake recipes? :)