Perhaps there may be fewer people sitting around the table this Thanksgiving, that doesn’t mean we should skimp out on dessert. Have your pie — or cake, or trifle — and eat it too.

With the size of the gatherings being potentially smaller this year due to COVID-19 concerns, hosts and hostesses may find themselves reducing the size of the turkey, the number of side dishes and the size of desserts.

The Eagle asked three foodies in the Berkshires to come up with desserts that would serve four to six people. Linda Williams, owner of Linda’s Pastries in Pittsfield, Jessie Kratz, baker/owner of The Shire Cottage Bakery in Adams, and Tinky Weisblat, a local TV personality and cookbook author, shared some of their decadent — but smaller — dessert recipes that are still big on flavor.

“Whenever we celebrated Thanksgiving, my mother always made pumpkin pie so it’s a tradition,” Williams said. “I really like cheesecake and since it’s pumpkin it seems like a perfect Thanksgiving dessert if someone wants something other than a pie.”

Kratz said she suggests making a Maple Pecan Creme Brûlée because, “Creme Brûlée is one of those desserts a lot of people only have when they are out to dinner at a restaurant, but it’s actually surprisingly easy to make.”

She added, “The Cranberry Cheesecake Trifle is both sweet and tart, and combines flavors from fall and the holidays with a fun dessert that kids can help make. The options for different layers and flavors are endless with a trifle. You can make it fancy with different types of glasses or casual with mason jars or cute little dishes.”


(Recipe by Jessie Kratz, baker/owner of The Shire Cottage Bakery)



2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup crushed gingersnap or shortbread cookies


In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, combine softened cream cheese and sugar, until light and fluffy.

Add in the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice.

In a separate bowl, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold in the whipped cream to the Cream Cheese mixture.

Refrigerate, covered until ready to serve.



2 cups fresh cranberries

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup water


Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer on low for 10 to 12 minutes until cranberries burst and soften.

Set aside to cool for 15 minutes, then pour into a blender or food mill and puree until smooth.

Pour into a bowl and chill at least 2 hours or until completely cooled.

To serve: Layer crushed cookies, cheesecake mousse and cranberry sauce evenly in glasses or mason jars, ending with the cranberry sauce, then sprinkle the top with crushed cookies.


(Recipe by Jessie Kratz, baker/owner of The Shire Cottage Bakery)



2 1/4 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract

6 egg yolks

1/3 cup granulated maple sugar (see note)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Scald cream with vanilla in saucepan.

In a separate bowl, whisk the granulated maple sugar (see note below) and egg yolks as soon as cream comes to a scald.

Temper the scalded cream mixture with the egg and sugar by slowly adding the hot cream to the egg mixture and mix until just combined.

Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup with a pour spout.

Arrange ramekins in a roasting pan and fill each ramekin 3/4 full with custard. Carefully place in center of preheated oven then add enough hot tap water to come at least halfway up the ramekin.

Bake until the custards are firm with a slight jiggle in the center, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool in the water until you can handle them.

Refrigerate covered for at least 4 hours.

Sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar and use a torch, or place under the broiler until sugar is caramelized.

Note: If you do not have granulated maple sugar, you can substitute with the exact amount of brown sugar and add 1/2 teaspoon of maple extract.



1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt


In a small non-stick frying pan, bring maple syrup, salt and butter to a boil. Turn heat to medium and boil for 2 minutes.

Add in the chopped pecans and cook for 1 minute. Pour onto a plate to cool, then break up into pieces.

To serve: Top your Maple Creme Brulee with Candied Pecan crumbles.

Note: Creme brulee can be made in 2 to 3 days in advance, keep refrigerated until needed, then top with granulated sugar and torch immediately before serving.


(Recipe by Tinky Weisblat, local TV personality and cookbook author)

“Crumble is one of my favorite desserts. It is MUCH easier than pie and less rich than a crisp. For added depth of consistency, substitute oats for some of the flour.”

Serves 6


3 cups apple slices

2 cups cranberries

4 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter

1/2 cup brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the fruit in an 9-inch pie pan. (Make sure you have a cookie sheet under the pan; the fruit can get juicy in the oven!) Add the 4 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Toss if you can.

Combine the flour and the salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingers. Add the brown sugar and mix again until crumbly.

Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the fruit, pressing down lightly. Bake until the crumble is golden brown and crisp (30 to 40 minutes, depending on your oven).

The crumble may be served warm or cold. And leftovers are great for breakfast!


(Recipe by Linda Williams, owner Linda’s Pastries)

Serves 4 to 6

Prep Time. 20 minutes. Cook time. 1 hour


For the crust:

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)

3 tablespoons cold ice water

For the filling:

2 ounces cream cheese (softened)

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons milk, half-and-half or heavy cream

1 tablespoons butter (melted)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Whipped cream for topping


For the crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a cup with 3 tablespoons ice water and set aside. Mix together the flour and salt. Pour the 4 tablespoons melted butter into the flour mixture and blend together with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time. Use a fork and then your hands to form a ball. When the mixture forms together, but is still a bit crumbly, it’s ready to roll out.

Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface and roll out the dough until it is 2 to 3 inches larger than your pie plate. Carefully place the dough into a 6-inch pie plate, letting the edges overhang. Trim the edges but leave at least an inch or so overhanging the rim of your pie plate. Crimp the edges around the top edge.

For the filling:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt and beat until combined. Add the egg mixed with the milk (half-and-half or cream), and 1 tablespoon melted butter and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon and pie spice and beat until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 60 minutes or until the center is almost set. It will be puffed up, but will settle as it cools. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve with whipped cream.


(Recipe by Linda Williams, owner Linda’s Pastries)


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

6 tablespoons butter, melted

16 ounces full-fat cream cheese, room temperature and not cold to touch

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature and not cool to touch

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Small batch whipped cream and cinnamon for garnish


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Wrap the outside of a 6-by-2-inch or 6-by-3-inch springform pan with foil.

In a large bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Pat into the bot and up the sides of the springform pan. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, for 1 minute each or until smooth (do not over beat). Beat in the pumpkin and vanilla.

Transfer the batter to the crust (if using a 6-by-2-inch pan, it will fill to the top). Place the pan inside an 8-by-8-inch or larger pan. Pour hot water into the outside pan until the springform pan is halfway submerged in the water. Be careful you don’t get water inside the foil.

Bake 65 to 75 minutes or until the edges are set and brown, the center is mostly set with some wiggling, and internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. Remove from the oven and carefully run a knife along the edge to loosen the cheesecake.

Cool 15 minutes in the water bath. Remove the pan from the water bath and let cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before garnishing and serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 to 7 days.

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