Ellen Barett photo

Growing up, holiday gatherings always happened at my place. Over the course of a few hours family members would stream into our home and find a spot to park themselves for the evening. About two dozen people would cram into our apartment in East Harlem, and stay for hours. I would spend days watching my mom plan and prep a combination of traditional American dishes like the roasted turkey and mashed potatoes and some classic Puerto Rican dishes like pernil, pasteles, and arroz con gandules. I remember an abundance of savory dishes and always one lonely, store bought, pumpkin pie for my dad. Dessert was just not a part of my moms’ repertoire.
It should come as no surprise that when I moved back to NY in the early 2000s and attended culinary school, my mom happily turned over the holiday meals to me. While I’ve kept a lot of her traditions going, I banished the store bought pie! With the inheritance of the Thanksgiving meal came new traditions like homemade desserts!

Another change is that I personally have Thanksgiving on the fourth Friday of November (because I’m just too tired to eat or even look at food after spending days cooking.) This isn’t a complaint; I think there’s magic in Thanksgiving leftovers, and there is also a very special addition to the menu: my Pumpkin Sticky Buns! Imagine the fluffiest cinnamon roll you’ve ever had drizzled with warm caramel sauce with just a touch of salt and pecan crumble. This recipe is easy to follow, even for a novice baker.

Whether you plan on having these on Thanksgiving day or as part of your leftover brunch, you’re going to want to give yourself enough time to prep them, as the proofing happens in two stages and can take up to two hours.

Pro tip: Set them up as overnight rolls after you cut the cinnamon rolls. Place them in the pan and instead of setting them up to rise again, cover and refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to bake them off, bring the rolls to room temperature and let them rise for 1 hour before placing them in the oven. They are best served warm.

Many loved ones didn’t gather last year, so I say, welcome family members back to your Thanksgiving table with this epic dessert. Happy Baking!

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