While there are never any complaints about coffee and pumpkin pie at the grown-ups table after Thanksgiving dinner, the kids' table sometimes gets the raw end of the deal. Put a few special treats out just for the kids’ this year and make them feel like they've got an important place in the Thanksgiving festivities. Take kid staples like cupcakes and candy that feature autumnal ingredients like pumpkin seeds, cranberries and ginger, and you might notice a few adults trying to squeeze into the kids’ table as well!
Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Pepitas are the seeds of pumpkins (and sometimes other squash) that have been hulled, roasted and often salted. The salted pepitas add a nice contrast to the sweetness of the brittle.
What You Need:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup roasted salted pepitas
What You Do:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat the parchment paper with canola oil spray.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat add the sugar, corn syrup, water and butter and stir until the butter and sugar have completely dissolved.
- Increase the temperature to medium high and cook for 10 minutes or until the mixtures turns a golden brown, occasionally swirling the pan so that the syrup cooks evenly (do not use a spoon to stir during this step).
- Remove from the stove and whisk in the spices, vanilla and baking soda.
- Stir in the pepitas with a wooden spoon.
- Pour the mixture onto the parchment paper and spread with a small offset spatula to form an even layer.
- Allow the brittle to cool and harden. Break the brittle sheet into pieces and serve!
This brittle makes for a great holiday party take-away if you're looking for a little something to give to your guests to take home with them.
Cranberry Orange Cupcakes
It’s the orange cream cheese frosting that makes these cupcakes so irresistible!
What You Need to Make the Cupcakes:
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- zest of one orange
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup cranberries tossed in 2 teaspoons flour
What You Do:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside.
- In a stand mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment beat together the eggs, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, milk and orange juice.
- Add 1/3 of the flour into the mixing bowl and mix until incorporated. Add ½ of the wet ingredients (the oil, milk and orange juice) and mix until just combined. Continue alternating the flour, the wet ingredients and the final 1/3 of flour, mixing until just combined after each addition.
- Use a ¼ cup ice cream scoop to divvy out the batter into 12 cupcake liners.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool thoroughly before frosting.
What You Need to Make the Frosting:
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1-2 tablespoons orange juice
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar on low speed until well combined. Add one tablespoon orange juice and mix until combined. If the frosting is too thick add one more tablespoon of orange juice and mix until well combined. Beat the frosting on medium speed for a couple of minutes and frost as desired.
You can get festive with your frosting and add some orange food coloring if you like for some extra Thanksgiving flare!
Almond Ginger Bark
If you’ve ever been met with the complaint that there’s nothing chocolaty on the Thanksgiving dessert menu, consider making some bark. Ginger and almonds add a fall feel to this quick and easy chocolate treat. The chocolate is traditionally tempered, but you can avoid this step by making the bark the morning you are going to serve it and keeping it in the fridge until about 15 minutes before serving.
What You Need:
- 1 pound milk chocolate, chopped
- 8 ounces chopped almonds
- 2 ounces candied ginger, diced into small pieces
What You Do:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Set up a double boiler, if you don't already have one. (Take a pot or deep saucepan and pour in about two inches water. Find a heat proof bowl that will fit snuggly on top of the saucepan. The base of the bowl should not touch the water.) Bring the eater to a low boil.
- Pour the chocolate into the bowl sitting atop the saucepan. Gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the ginger and almonds and pour the entire mixture onto the lined baking sheet. Use a small offset spatula to smooth out the layer of bark.
- Refrigerate, uncovered, just until set (about 30 minutes).
- Invert the pan onto a large cutting board and use a large chef’s knife to cut the bark into pieces.
Get creative and use a variety of chocolates, nuts and dried fruits—just follow the recipe proportions with your substituted ingredients. The great thing about this recipe is you can easily make a large batch if you've got lots of guests to serve. You can also drop a few pieces each into some festive cellophane bags, tie them up, and give them to your guests as party favors.
You can have all three treats out for the kids’ table dessert, or serve one, such as the cupcake after the meal and save the candy bagged up as a table decoration/party favor for the kids to take home to enjoy. With such a big dinner holiday dinner, saving a few treats to take home and to enjoy later might be a delicious way to end the meal!