I’m not working on Thanksgiving this year, nor am I cooking a big meal. We’re going to travel about a hour west to our friends house. With three children of their own, a beautiful country home on 80 acres, and goats, cats, ducks, and turkeys running underfood, it’ll be a very down-to-earth holiday. Then again, the turkeys will no longer be running anywhere…

I’m happy to beg off cooking the meal. Instead I’m making a selection of desserts to bring and also to drop off for some of my personal chef clients. Thanksgiving offers so many fine choices when it comes to sweets, items and flavors that I save for this time of year, thereby increasing their specialness.

To start with, I’m going to make squash pie in a graham cracker crust instead of the usual pumpkin. I have several large butternuts from my garden, so I’m going to roast them whole, then scoop out the soft flesh and puree it with the other ingredients. I’ll use sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and a healthy dose of cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and ginger.

I love gingerbread, especially when it’s dark and sticky with lots of spice. I like the one from Fannie Farmer’s Baking Book called Moosehead Gingerbread. It’s got brown sugar and dark molasses, black pepper and ground mustard, along with dried ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Slightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream will be served in abundance.

For the children, I’m going to make decorated chewy sugar cookies in the shape of turkeys, pumpkins, and pilgrims. Anything with brightly colored frosting is always a big draw for kids, and if it’s got a face on it, all the better. “Look Mom, I ate the nose!”

The last dessert will be something a little different–though what I’m not sure. My clients don’t care so I’m free to experiment. I could go for a caramel cheese cake with a crunchy pecan topping. Or an upside down cranberry orange cake I learned to make years ago from my dear chef friend Alice. Or the maple walnut pie in a beautiful spiraled filo crust from Horn of the Moon cookbook (must have vanilla ice cream for this one). Then again, I could make a rustic apple or pear tart on puffed pastry. Hmmmm. I could also peruse the culinary school websites. They usually offer some exciting holiday recipes.

That’s my plan. It doesn’t involve chocolate but I think that’s okay–just this once.