My husband is excited, too, and he keeps asking me what our menu will be. His responses of jubilation when I run down the list, or when he comes into the kitchen to see and smell a freshly baked loaf of bread or muffins (which are shortly wrapped up and moved to the freezer), is praise enough, and that's before he's even feasted! Poor thing, he's tasted all of these things at previous Thanksgiving meals and knows how good they are, but I am pretty strict on no pre-holiday sampling. He'll just have to wait.
While the Cajun Cornbread Dressing is definitely the star of the meal, my husband's other favorite part of the meal is our very non-traditional dessert. We find other occasions for pecan bars or sweet potato pies, but I don't think they elicit quite as much excitement from him as these frozen mini-tortes.
Frozen Cranberry Grand Marnier Mini Tortes
Adapted from Bon Appetit
4.5 oz chocolate wafer cookies or 9 chocolate graham crackers
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
dash of allspice
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 1/2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/4 cup port wine
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, divided
In a food processor, process the cookies, chocolate chips and sugar until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse 6-7 times. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cookie mixture. Divide the remaining mixture between 12 standard muffin cups.
Whisk the eggs, sugar and water in a medium metal bowl. Cook over simmering water, whisking constantly until the mixture reaches 175 degrees. Remove from the heat. Add the spices, and beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk the whipping cream, yogurt, Grand Marnier, orange juice and grated orange peel with an electric mixer until peaks form. Fold in the egg mixture. Spoon the mixture half-way up the sides of the muffin cups. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the remaining chocolate crumb mixture into each cup, and top with the remaining whipping cream mixture. Cover and freeze overnight. (You may have some left over; it can either be enjoyed frozen or chilled).
Whisk the wine and cornstarch together in a saucepan. Add the sugar, honey and spices. Set over medium-high heat until the mixture boils. Add 1 1/2 cups cranberries; return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Mix in the remaining 1 cup cranberries. Refrigerate overnight.
To serve, run a butter knife around the mini tortes to release (some crumbs will remain in the pan). Serve each torte topped with 4-6 tablespoons of the cranberry wine mixture.