While my circle is generally up for anything culinarily speaking, as a group they have limited tolerance for messing around with the classics at Thanksgiving. Can I serve vegan kielbasa and sauerkraut, sweet potato maki or coconut curry laksa for Christmas? Sure, no fuss. But just see the dangerous flash in their eyes if I start messing around with Thanksgiving fare. I am too attached to life and limb to even suggest alternative proposals to mashed potatoes and copious piles of stuffing. When it comes to pumpkin pie though, my feet invariably drag.
I've put chai in pumpkin pie, layered it with praline pecans, swirled cocoa nib cream through it, used different kinds of pumpkin, various forms of crust, but one thing I've never done is love pumpkin pie. It's not that I don't appreciate pumpkin, I do. We harvested five beautiful little sugar pumpkins last week and have been enjoying them ever since in a variety of dishes and desserts. But the way I like it best will never be in pie. My preference lies with cake — really truly pumpkiny, densely fudgey, full of bitter fruit chocolate flavor and piled with perfectly seasonal spices. It's so good, it's worth enduring the wrath of my friends missing their traditional pumpkin pie. Besides, after one bite, I find the anger fades from a roar to a purr of chocolately pumpkin contentment.
I first made this cake last year for Thanksgiving and it already feels like a classic for our Thanksgiving table. If you can't give up the pie, well, I'm sure it would go well alongside some straight-up pumpkin too. Anyway, Thanksgiving is nothing if not an opportunity to legitimize the serving and consumption of multiple desserts.