Thanksgiving always reminds me of my grandma and her pies. I loved my grandma's pies. The dough did not stick to the counter while she rolled out the crust or shrink in the pan when she baked it. The insides didn’t run everywhere when she cut into it. Her pies didn’t taste too sweet. Together, we would pinch the dough all around the dish to scallop the edges, and it was just soft enough and hung over just the right amount.
I am sorry to say that my pies – while usually edible – are not my grandma’s. It’s hard to go wrong with the insides, usually some variation of fruit, sugar, and whiskey. But those crusts! I’ve watched Martha Stewart videos claiming how easy it is. I’ve taken recipe recommendations from people who swear by whatever version of butter and flour they always use. I’ve consulted Google for advice. But then I go to roll it out and even if I get something that I can put in the pan, the taste is usually dull and the consistency a bit like powder.
This year I was determined to make a pie that I wanted to eat. Starting with cherries that I froze while they were in season, a recipe that claimed to resemble a Manhattan cocktail (I love to eat my drinks), and very concerted crust practice.
Thanksgiving prep is in full swing. Whiskey cranberry sauce is marinating in the fridge, pie crusts are chilling as they wait for their cherry bourbon filling, and the Scotch is on deck to jump into the whipped cream. And I am thankful to be hosting some gluten-free guests this year to test out a new recipe – gluten free pumpkin squares with (yum!) a cream cheese bourbon vanilla bean frosting.
I would say that the pumpkin squares are obviously my way to justify eating that frosting, but in fact, the pumpkin squares are worth eating also. They have a nice cake-like texture, not too sweet (but definitely a dessert), and I would actually recommend going light on the frosting layer. The frosting is delightful and fine eaten with a spoon, but you don’t want the sweet to overpower the spice of the cake.
These make a nice alternative to pumpkin pie and are yummy enough that this might become a fall staple. If you have a lot you are baking and preparing, these are also great because the instructions are the equivalent of “mix it all in a bowl, stick it in the pan, and put it in the oven.”