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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

A Sweet Idea For Thanksgiving

I’ve discovered another trick to making Thanksgiving easier than ever – have someone else make dessert.

If you read this column regularly, then you’ll know that there’s nothing I love more than prepping and cooking the entire Thanksgiving feast – and up until last year, I was blind-baking crusts for pecan pie and turning over apples into cake batter in the hope they produced beautiful results.

But the outstanding number of excellent desserts available in Honolulu in recent years makes those few hot hours in the kitchen completely unnecessary.

Last year I was tempted into the world of premade desserts by pastry chef Beth Iwata’s Pumpkin Crunch. Beth is an incredibly talented and passionate baker who has created a niche at Brasserie Du Vin and now runs a mini patisserie from her brand-new bakery. You can even order her pastries right from the street, as there’s a glass display at the entrance to the French-style bistro that’s set up daily to offer sandwiches, pies both sweet and savory, quiche and desserts from 11:30 a.m. daily until no more remain. Beth’s pumpkin pie was so good that I decided then and there to give up all attempts to ever best it.

Here are a couple of alternatives – offered for the first time this year – that you might want to grab while you can. As a small bakery, Brasserie Du Vin has a limit to the number of desserts it can make in a day, so orders need to be placed at least 24 hours in advance and picked up this week only.

But the divine desserts pose their own problem: How do you decide between a Pumpkin Bourbon Tart with Walnut Crumble (it’s a bourbon-laced pumpkin filling baked in fresh pie crust topped with cinnamon and walnut crumble), Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake (a tender, moist, pumpkin cake with a brown butter cream cheese nutty frosting topped with candied pecans), or a Chocolate Truffle Tart with berries? I’m going with the Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake with Pecan Crust because it seems to incorporate all the good things about Thanksgiving desserts into one sweet bite. And it does make the average pumpkin pie seems a little boring, don’t you think?

Order by calling the restaurant at 545-1115. Last-minute orders will be taken up to 24 hours before pickup.

Another dessert worth seeking out, as much for the gorgeous color it will bring to your holiday table as for its flavor, comes from Umeke Market and features the unlikely combination of haupia and pumpkin in a gorgeous, silky-sweet pairing. The pies have an organic shortbread crust and are topped with layers of organic pumpkin filling and coconut haupia. They not only look fabulous, but as with all Umeke’s healthful offerings, you can allow yourself an extra slice – gluten-free or regular. The pies can be ordered in advance and you’ll be given a designated pickup time. These pies are fresh, fabulous and will leave you extra hours free to spend with family. Call Umeke Market at 522-7377 to place orders.

And in the spirit of the week, with victims of Hurricane Sandy in mind, I join you all, I’m sure, in giving thanks for a day spent celebrating those most precious of gifts: food, friends and family. Not necessarily, of course, in that order.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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