Make the Holidays Sweet
Food and Drink

Make the Holidays Sweet

Tis the season for celebrations and festive gatherings. Planning a Holiday Party or hosting out-of-town guests?  Well, get ready to treat your family and friends to something special. We’ll help satisfy your sweet tooth and get into the joyful spirit of this magical time of the year!

How does Roasted Apple Pies in Pumpkin Shells or Banana Pudding with Sweet Coffee Glaze sound? These are just a couple of recipes included in our Holiday roundup this year. Get ready to make the season sparkle with this collection of holiday sweets.

Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Bourbon Whip

Courtesy of Green Mountain Grills,

"The holidays are here which means the pumpkin craze has begun. What better way to fill your pumpkin spice cravings than with the desert that started it all. This (not so) traditional recipe features a simple pumpkin filling that is complemented with a unique, crispy crust and bourbon vanilla whipped topping."

Prep Time: 30 minutes Idle Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 55 minutes Serves: 12



1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs

6 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly warm

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon



1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pie mix)

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves



1 tablespoon high quality bourbon

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup crushed walnuts

For the Crust:

1.Preheat the grill to 350 degrees. We recommend using GMG Texas Blend pellets.

2.Finely break down graham crackers and mix together the other crust ingredients until it has the consistency of wet sand.

3.Spread the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie pan. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and sides of the pan.

4.Put the pan on the grill and bake until the crust is light brown and firm to the touch, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.


For the Filling:

1.Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth and combined. A smooth filling at this stage is crucial. Clumps will not only change the texture of your finished pie, but also the consistency of flavor throughout. Pour the thoroughly blended filling into the cooled pie crust.

2.Place the pie on the grates and cook until the top starts to brown and the filling is set but still jiggles slightly in the center, about 55 minutes. Remove from the grill and let cool completely before serving. Letting the pie cool lets the interior solidify. Top slices of the pie with bourbon vanilla whipped cream, if desired.


For the Whip:

1.Beat cream in a mixing bowl until fluffy, then add confectioners sugar until soft peaks form. Add bourbon and vanilla and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Top with crushed walnuts.

Roasted Apple Pies in Pumpkin Shells

Recipe & photo courtesy of Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

"Sugar pumpkins, also known as pie pumpkins, only weigh up to a few pounds and are sweeter with a firmer, less stringy flesh than carving pumpkins. This recipe is even better cooked with a little apple wood smoke."

Serves: 6


2 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup light-brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup all-purpose flour

6 sugar pie pumpkins, about 1 pound each, scrubbed clean

6 Braeburn apples, cored and sliced in eighths

½ cup pecan halves

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Beat in the cream. Whisk in the vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add the flour and combine until smooth.

Cut the top third or so off each pumpkin. Angle the knife while cutting, so the slanted cut tapers toward the middle to allow the tops to securely center on the pumpkin. Hollow out the pumpkins, removing all the seeds and pulp.

Layer the apples and pecans inside the pumpkins, and then drizzle the egg mixture equally into each pie. The apples can extend above the rim, but the egg mixture should not fill the shell more than 2/3 high.

Place the tops on the pies and transfer them to the indirect cooking zone. Roast with the hood closed for 20 minutes. Remove the tops and set them directly on the grill grate in the coolest part of the indirect zone. Close the lid.

In 10 minutes, rotate the pies for even cooking. In another 10 minutes, remove the pumpkin lids from the grill and set aside. After 10 more minutes, the pumpkin shells should be tender and the apple pie filling cooked through. Remove from the grill and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: 6 pumpkins require a sizable indirect cooking zone. A K900 can handle them, but some grills are not large enough.

Banana Pudding with Sweet Coffee Glaze

Recipe from Kevin Belton’s New Orleans Kitchen by Kevin Belton with Rhonda K. Findley, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith: photo by Eugenia Uhl

"It’s a true New Orleans comfort food. At the time, Mom didn’t consider it fancy enough to serve to company. But boy has that changed."

Kevin Belton
Serves: 8 to 10


For the Banana Pudding:

2 cups crushed vanilla wafers, divided

3 ripe bananas, sliced in 1⁄4-inch slices, divided

1  3⁄4 cups sugar, divided

1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk, divided

3 egg yolks

2 teaspoons butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 egg whites


For the Sweet Coffee Glaze:

1 cup strong coffee, regular or decaf

1 teaspoon vanilla

2⁄3 cup sugar

For the Banana Pudding: Preheat oven to 350°F. Evenly spread 1 cup of crushed wafers in the bottom of a 9-inch round baking dish, and layer half of the banana slices over the top.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1⁄2 cups sugar with the flour. Mix thoroughly and add 1 cup of milk. Beat the yolks and whisk into the mixture. Add remaining milk and butter. Place on low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and remove from heat.

Pour 1⁄3 of the pudding over the bananas while still hot. Sprinkle the remaining crushed wafers over the pudding and layer with remaining banana slices. Top with remaining pudding mixture.

In a large glass mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add remaining sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of the pudding layers, completely covering the pudding. Bake for 15 minutes, or until meringue starts to turn golden brown. Remove, cool, and chill before serving. Once chilled, you can either serve from the baking dish or you can spoon into individual dishes for a fancier presentation. Drizzle with Sweet Coffee Glaze.

For the Sweet Coffee Glaze: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine coffee, vanilla, and sugar; whisk until sugar completely dissolves. Continue to cook until mixture is gently bubbling. Reduce the heat and simmer until sauce thickens and reduces by half. Remove from the heat and cool.

Tequila-Lime-Coconut Macaroon Bars

Excerpted from The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook by Southern Living

"Tequila Lime Coconut Macaroon Bars are a great dessert to serve on any occasion. Tangy yet sweet and delicious. No need to worry about the Tequila – it evaporates during cooking!"

Hands-on Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes Makes: 3 dozen


2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

3 tablespoons tequila

1 teaspoon lime zest

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Garnishes: powdered sugar, lime rind curls

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom and sides of a 13-x 9-inch pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, allowing 2 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil.

Stir together 1 3/4 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. 

Bake at 350°F for 20 to 23 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a medium bowl until smooth; whisk in coconut, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar. Stir together baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup flour; whisk into egg mixture. Pour over hot crust. 

Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool on a wire rack 1 hour. Lift from pan, using foil sides as handles. Remove foil and cut into bars.

Salted Hazelnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Courtesy Oregon Hazelnuts

"These cookies offer the ultimate sweet and savory flavors by combining chunks of dark chocolate with chopped hazelnuts. Cookies are finished with a crunchy sprinkle of flaked sea salt."

Makes: 30


3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped

2 3-ounce bars Moonstruck Dark Chocolate 68% Cacao, chopped

2 tablespoons Jacobsen Pure Flake Finishing Salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Add the sugars and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low and then increase to medium-high. Mix for about two minutes until pale yellow in color and smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl.

Add the vanilla and then mix in the egg. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Next add the flour and mix on medium until a cookie dough forms, about 1 minute. Add the hazelnuts and the chocolate and mix on low for about 20 seconds to combine all ingredients.

Transfer the cookies in generous tablespoon-size portions to the baking sheets with no more than 12 cookies per tray. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with flaked sea salt.

Bake each tray for about 10 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown at the edges and are firm in the center.

Let cool for 3 minutes on the tray, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Apple Tart in a Kontos Crepe Shell

Courtesy of Angie Shaghaghi, Recipe Spokesperson, Kontos Foods

"These cookies offer the ultimate sweet and savory flavors by combining chunks of dark chocolate with chopped hazelnuts. Cookies are finished with a crunchy sprinkle of flaked sea salt."

Makes: 30


7  11-inch Kontos Savory or Traditional Crepes

Cooking spray

1 9-inch pie pan

6 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin (use three tart apples, such as Granny Smith, and three sweet, McIntosh)

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

Powdered sugar and caramel sauce, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spray the bottom of your pie pan with cooking spray to coat evenly.

Place Kontos crepes in the pie pan, one on top of the other, spraying between each layer.

In a separate pan, melt butter, and add apples. Top with brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla.

Gently toss to coat, and sauté for an additional 10 minutes. (Apples should still have some bite to them.)

Remove from the heat, and pour into the “Crepe Shell.”

Cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove cover, and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until crepe edges are lightly browned. Allow to rest for a few minutes, if you can, before slicing.

Top with powdered sugar or caramel sauce.

Grill-Spiced Pecans

Excerpted from The Southern Tailgating Cookbook: A Game-Day Guide for Lovers of Food, Football, and the South, by Taylor Mathis. Text and photographs copyright ©2013 by Jeffrey Taylor Mathis. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.

"Toast these scrumptious beauties on the grill while it heats up for the main entrée. Cloves, sugar, cayenne and black pepper turn crunchy pecans into warm and spicy treats best paired with a cold, malty beverage."

Makes: about 3 cups


3 cups pecan halves

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

At Home: measure the pecans, and store in a sealable container. Pack the butter in a small sealable container. Refrigerate overnight. Add the rest of the ingredients to a small sealable container, and mix together.

At the Tailgate: place a 9 x 13-inch baking pan over a medium-high grill. Add the butter, and let it melt. Once the butter is melted, add the pecans, and stir, making sure all the nuts are covered in melted butter. Add about half of the spice mix to the pan and stir. Cook the pecans over a medium-high grill, stirring frequently for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and add the remaining spice mix. Stir to evenly coat. Transfer to a serving bowl or place the pan on a trivet, and serve.