Every year, I set up a Thanksgiving dessert table so that relatives and friends who stop by before or after dinner can have a little something. It's filled with my kids favorites--Buckeyes, homemade Mounds, pecan sandies, big soft ginger cookies, chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, About 20 years ago, my youngest son asked, "How come there's no cake?" After experimenting for a few years, this is the result. It looks like a complicated recipe, but it's not, and the cake and the cranberry jelly can be made several days beforehand; the filling can be whipped up and the cake assembled early on the day of serving. - betteirene —betteirene
Test Kitchen Notes
This torte melds archetypal Thanksgiving ingredients (pumpkin, cranberry sauce, whipped cream) into a sumptuous new creation, perhaps a distant relative of the Sicilian cassata. Layers of fragrant pumpkin cake are covered by a heavenly whipped mixture of mascarpone, ricotta, and cream, accented with a tangy cranberry sauce. It lends itself to advance preparation -- each component can be made at different times and refrigerated. I pureed the roasted pumpkin in the food processor before mixing the cake batter, because mine looked a little stringy. Also I had to use powdered sugar in the cream filling because I was out of granulated sugar, and the result was perfect. The cream filling probably needs some time to thicken in the refrigerator before the torte is assembled. After chilling for less than an hour it ran down the sides, and I couldn't get all of it on the layers. But since it is divinely delicious, this is definitely not a problem. I made a little parfait with the extra cream and cranberry sauce. Betteirene's wonderful recipe deserves to be an Editor's Pick. - AppleAnnie —The Editors
For the Cake
roasted pumpkin or any other kind of squash, preferably, or 15 oz. of canned pumpkin
navel orange, zested, and the zest divided into thirds, and juiced, with the juice set aside
1 1/2 teaspoons
grated fresh ginger
finely chopped walnuts (optional)
very finely chopped candied or crystallized ginger (optional)
For the Fillings
Orange juice, plus enough water to equal one cup
12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
whole milk ricotta cheese
finely chopped candied or crystallized ginger (optional)
coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
In This Recipe
Mash, then drain the roasted pumpkin or squash for 1/2 hour in a sieve lined with a paper coffee filter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10"x"15" baking sheet.
In a large mixing bowl stir together (by hand) pumpkin, eggs, oil and both sugars until blended. Add one-third of the orange zest and the remaining ingredients; stir until well-blended, but be careful not to over-mix.
Spread batter into prepared pan and bake on middle oven rack for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.
Combine orange juice/water mixture, a third of the orange zest, the 1 cup sugar and cranberries in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl combine the ricotta, mascarpone, the 1/2 cup sugar, and remaining orange zest. Using an electric beater, whip the ricotta-mascarpone mixture until thoroughly combined and smooth.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Gradually fold the whipped cream into the ricotta until the mixture is smooth. Cover and refrigerate.
To assemble torte, cut cake into four equal-sized rectangles. Place one rectangle onto a serving platter and spread with one-fourth of the whipped filling and drizzle with 1/4 cup cranberry-orange sauce; repeat with remaining layers, filling and sauce (refrigerate extra sauce for another use). Garnish torte with crystallized ginger and walnuts, if desired. Refrigerate until serving, and refrigerate any leftovers.