Pumpkin Chocolate Mendiant – Happy Thanksgiving!

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For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to present something along the lines of individual plated desserts versus a single cake. It was a lot more work, but a fun way to make use of my pastry school education. Plus, I needed to make up for the time that my pumpkin chocolate tiramisu failed to make it to the holiday gathering (in retrospect, that recipe I used was all sorts of wrong).

This dessert has a base disc of flourless hazelnut chocolate cake, a layer of pumpkin pastry cream, a layer of pumpkin-chocolate crème légère (basically the pumpkin pastry cream mixed with melted chocolate, frangelico and whipped cream), and a topping of mascarpone whipped cream. On the side is a cranberry compote, made with whole frozen cranberries, sugar, lemon juice, frangelico and a little corn starch to pull it together.

The dark chocolate cage was the most involved step. Fortuitously, my dad had 3″ PVC pipe lying around, so we sawed that into short rings for holding the cylindrical shape while the tempered chocolate set. Family teamwork!

I’m only calling this a mendiant because that is the name of a similar dessert we made in pastry school. Obviously it is not the same as the chocolate confection also known as the mendiant, but I have yet to figure out a better name.

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Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Cookies

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Oftentimes, recipes on the back of boxes / packages can be rather mediocre, having been dumbed down to be accessible to the general public. This one, however, despite its simplicity, is a home run. It’s quick and easy, and most people seem to love the taste, even if they are not particular fans of oatmeal cookies, craisins, or white chocolate.

Adapted from Ocean Spray® Craisins® package:


  • ⅔ cup butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz. dried cranberries (i.e. Ocean Spray® Craisins®) – Note: I would use 1 to 1 ½ cups.
  • ⅔ cup white chocolate chunks or chips – Note: I would use 1 to 1 ½ cups.


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.
  3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. 
  4. Drizzle with melted white chocolate for extra flair and flavor.

Most of the sweetness and flavor for this cookie comes from the dried cranberries and white chocolate, so be liberal with those ingredients. In addition, note that these cookies expand very little in the oven. I would flatten them slightly before baking. No need to worry about the cookies running into each other as they bake.

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Cosmo Cookie Bars – A Cocktail w/o the Alcohol

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These “cosmo” cookie bars have a cranberry-orange filling, and a crust flavored with lime zest. If you like the fresh tanginess of a traditional lemon bar, you’ll probably like this spin on the bar. Fun colors too!

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