Thanksgiving came early to our house again this year. Our oldest daughter departs for the West Yellowstone Nordic Ski Rendezvous on the Saturday before Thanksgiving for 10 days. She loves Thanksgiving but she loves skiing even more. Last year there were 9 diners gathered around the dining room table for an early feast, this year it was just us (my 2 teenage daughters, my husband and myself). She and I started scouring the latest food magazines in mid-october during a college trip to the Pacific Northwest. Martha Stewart, Everyday Food and Bon Appetit traveled with us and inspired our menu. I asked my daughter to choose whatever sounded intriguing, there was no one to disappoint with unconventional choices. Our menu featured Turkey with Brown Sugar Glaze, Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta(both recipes from Everyday Food Nov. 2011), Skin-on Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Cider Gravy, Cornbread Dressing with Sausage, Leeks and Mushrooms, Triple Cranberry Sauce and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (the homemade Parker House Rolls will have to wait for Christmas) baked by our younger daughter who is a “Crescent (Dog)” aficionado.

We were a bit stumped at dessert. Traditional offerings have been Pumpkin Maple Pie, Chocolate Pecan Tart and Apple-something, including Mile High Apple Pie, Apple Oatmeal Crisp, and introduced in 2010, a French Apple Pie that features a layer of vanilla pastry cream in between the bottom crust and the apple filling. Two or three of those pies will be on their way to the family gathering on Thanksgiving so we decided to try something completely different. I have been saving the November and December issues of food magazines for too many years to count so we had a wealth of inspiration in the basement as well as online. The sous-chef has been eager to try Tiramisu since we dined at a delightful Italian restaurant, Nostrana, in Portland last month. Paging through Everyday Food November 2010 we knew immediately that our unconventional Thanksgiving would conclude with Pumpkin-Chocolate Tiramisu.

I had a little extra time on my hands before the real cooking began so I decided to make my own ladyfingers. We had spied packaged ladyfingers at a neighborhood Italian deli a week or so ago but I was not eager to visit another store or spend money on something that I should be able to make myself. Discovering a recipe was a bit harder than I thought it would be. I finally found a suitable recipe in “La Technique” by Jacques Pepin.

Biscuits a la Cuillere (ladyfingers) adapted from La Technique by Jacques Pepin

4 large eggs at room temperature

2/3 c. granulated sugar

1/2 t. vanilla extract

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silpats if you have them.

Separate the eggs and transfer the yolks to a small bowl, stir to combine. In a large mixing bowl whip the whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Fold in the vanilla and egg yolks. Sift the flour over the egg mixture and fold in. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, about 3/4 inches in diameter. Pipe onto prepared baking sheets, the ladyfingers should be about 3-4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar twice, waiting about 5 minutes between sprinklings. Bake 15 minutes or until pale beige. Let cool before removing from baking sheet. Store at room temperature in a covered container. Makes about 3 dozen.

Pumpkin Chocolate Tiramisu adapted from Everyday Food Nov. 2010

1 8 oz. container mascarpone cheese

1 1/4c. heavy cream

3/4 c. powdered sugar

5 T. dark rum

1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree

2 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 T.more for dusting

about 30 ladyfingers, homemade or store bought

1/4 t. cinnamon

In a large bowl whisk together mascarpone,1 c. heavy cream, powdered sugar and 2 T. rum until soft peaks form. Fold in pumpkin until thoroughly combined. Melt chocolate in remaining heavy cream in a microwave or over very low heat stirring frequently. Transfer 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture to a medium bowl and fold in chocolate mixture. In a small bowl whisk 1 T. cocoa powder into 1/3 c. very hot water, add 3 T rum. Line bottom of an 8-inch souffle dish or square baking dish with about 9-10 ladyfingers. Brush generously with the cocoa/rum mixture and top with half of the pumpkin mixture. Add another 9 or so ladyfingers, brush with cocoa/rum mixture and top with all the chocolate-pumpkin mixture. Top with a final layer of ladyfingers and brush with cocoa/rum mixture and top with remaining pumpkin mixture. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. Before serving, combine additional cocoa and cinnamon in a fine mesh sieve and generously dust tiramisu. Serves 8.

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