Thanksgiving is such a special time of year, at home in the Midwest or living abroad, this holiday remains an event at our house. The roots of our family traditions stem from my youth and the amazing holidays spent with my grandparents on their farm. And, I love how my little family has expanded those traditions and made them their own.
This year, I’ve planned a dessert table that can accommodate our friends here in Heidelberg. This is our fourth Thanksgiving as a group and it’s the usual suspects with a few extras mixed in. Our friends remind us that Thanksgiving is uniquely American and their exposure to a traditional dinner was brought to them only through sitcoms.
Many of our friends have said, “Every American sitcom has a Thanksgiving and Christmas episode.” Our hope the first year we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner was to simply avoid an international incident! A sit down dinner for 24 isn’t an easy task in the best of circumstances, but everything worked out wonderfully, as it usually always does.
Dietary restrictions of a few guests have prompted me to explore more types of desserts in ways I hadn’t considered before; allergies of all kinds have kept me on my toes. Offering every guest, several choices on the dessert table is important to me since most of the guests will have numerous choices as well.
Mixing up textures inside a focused color palette helps me stay on point when designing a dessert table. Fiesta Dinnerware showcased against wood, metal, textiles, and glass highlights the beautiful lines and shapes I love. Balance is important, so I make sure I distribute these elements evenly across the presentation.
The Thanksgiving color combination was a simple and natural choice: Sage, Slate, Ivory, Paprika, and Poppy. These go seamlessly together and perfectly echo the colors right outside my window. Staying inside this chosen ensemble is critical for tablescape cohesion and design.
I’ve anchored the table with a show-stopping arrangement in a Sage Medium Flower Vase. It’s stunning. I built this bouquet from silk flowers along with some other bits and baubles. I didn’t have any florist wire or tape, so I used a zip tie (we have plenty of those). All the colors from the table are represented in this design and the arching stem of flowers help frame the cake and draws focus to it.
The Triple-Layer Cake is made with two layers of carrot cake with a crust-less cheesecake middle layer, the frosting is a lightly tinted cream cheese buttercream garnished with a pair of petite-swirled Lollipops. Adding a small bow introduces another level of texture and elevates the textile component.
Beginning on the left side of the table, in the Tapered Mugs I prepared a cranberry apple gluten-free crisp with a whipped cream topping. It’s as delicious as it sounds and even easier to prepare. This mug is quite generous in case you have two guests that just want a nibble, go ahead and share.
It is the case that I love the iconic shape of the Salt and Pepper Shakers, and I don’t have any desserts that required salt and pepper after everything is prepared. So, I thought about the best way to incorporate this steadfast piece and then it hit me; its possible guests would like a sprinkling of nutmeg or cinnamon on their after-dinner sweets or lattes etc. I love this idea and will sure include it from now on. Keeping the salt and pepper shakers near a tiny placard can help alleviate any confusion.
I’m happy with the results of staying inside traditions and having fun! These chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream are designed to mimic apple and blueberry pies, because offering real pies wasn’t enough. Using a tin foil cupcake liner is the small detail that mimics a traditional pie tin and piped-on latticework helps the candy-coated chocolates stay in place. Though the blue falls outside the color palette, I thought it would help convey the idea of blueberry pie. That choice falls to the baker, be your own best self on this decision.
Because time is always a factor on Thanksgiving, I like to give myself permission to say, “I can’t do everything.” The pecan pie was bought frozen. Before baking, I popped it out of its tin and let it thaw a few minutes as it settled into the Slate Deep Dish Pie Baker. Just a few minutes less in the oven than recommended and this pie was good to go. Consider offering a warm vanilla cream sauce to pair with this pie. It’s a wonderful alternative to whipped cream and elevates the experience of this dessert. The Fiesta Mini-Disc Pitcher is a natural choice for pouring this delicate sauce.
For this Pumpkin Pie, I needed to up my game by adding a decorative crust of pumpkin cutouts using a decorative pie crust cutter and I couldn’t have been happier with the results! Such a detail eliminates the question, “Is this pumpkin or sweet potato?” The Paprika Deep Dish Pie Baker looks wonderful sitting on an amber glass cake stand. Depending on your crowd, it might be a good idea to have an extra Pumpkin Pie or two on standby in the kitchen
An Omni Tray shining in the sun… let me just sit a little longer so I can enjoy this. Again, the five-part tray set is a great place to consider different types of desserts and sweet treats for easy snacking and serving. On the left is shortbread cut on the diagonal. I didn’t prepare these, but supported a local baker building her successful small business in a sustainable way. This was a smart decision considering shortbread isn’t in my wheelhouse yet and I love supporting my friend Claire as she launches something new.
The acorns consist of a chocolate kiss and a mini-Nilla wafer with a small dab of buttercream keeping them together. These are an ideal bite of something sweet and look fantastic on top of cakes and cupcakes.
Oatmeal raisin cream pies are my favorite (I ate one for lunch from the vending machine during all three years of middle school). I prefer my homemade cream pies to the store bought, but when time is a factor don’t be afraid to mix things up! Buy the cookies but make your own buttercream and then enlist some help putting them together.
Consider dried fruit or nuts for the Omni Tray, especially for guests that might be shying away from processed sugars, gluten, or dairy.
For an alternative dessert to all things baked, consider the classic Banana Nilla Wafer Pudding. It’s delicious and a perennial favorite. I chose to use Fiesta Ramekins to keep portion sizes consistent and the tables a bit tidy, but don’t forget about the Bouillon Bowls as a wonderful alternative. The whipped cream is a perfect topper for the pudding and if you’d like, maybe some cinnamon is the way to finish it, too.
Two gentle reminders, if your fridge has room, it’ll be easier to move the pudding in and out if you have a small tray or shallow dish the Ramekins can sit in. I love that the Fiesta Ramekins are just as functional and beautiful with a baked dessert or a cool one.
If cookies and graham crackers are off the list of approved foods, think about lining the bottom and sides of the dessert ramekin with banana slices. That opens up the possibility of using vanilla, banana, chocolate, or coconut pudding as the main attraction, because they all sound delicious with bananas and whipped cream!
Dessert Plates! It’s like the floodgates of delicious open up when that first brave soul tackles slicing the pies and cakes. At our house, it usually sounds like, “Hon, can you come slice the pies and get things started?” Happy to. The Fiesta Dinnerware Salad plate is perfect for dessert portions and for handling the heavy load of the first round and returning for seconds. Are thirds a thing where you live? I’m just asking for a friend.
There is something about a sliced pie or cake at the holidays that anchors me to the people I love and call family. Perhaps it’s linked to the love that went into cooking and baking for this special meal. Or maybe, it’s the connection of remembering to give thanks for all I have and then demonstrating that in a really tangible manner.
I have clear memories of my grandmother lifting the flour sack tea towels that had covered the pies all afternoon and unveiling the long-awaited pumpkin or pecan or apple pie that would soon be in my tummy.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year and planning for it is terribly exciting. I think the anticipation of spending the day with family and friends is a key component to how I feel about it. Not only is it a day to laugh and share stories, it’s a day to welcome kind words of thanks and sharing that compassion among one another. Even when the baby cries, an adult steps on a toy, or the rolls are a little overdone– there is magic and meaning in community. Be brave and find your people. Happy Thanksgiving!