Originally published in 1968, this collection features many of the author’s favorite holiday dishes, as they were included in one of his short stories. (Unfortunately, we could only get 10 of the recipes for you, as our copy of the magazine was incomplete.)
10 of Truman Capote’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes
From Ladies Home Journal magazine, November 1968
Most readers will recognize Truman Capote presiding over our Thanksgiving feast.
What most people won’t recognize, however, is that Mr. Capote created the menu — in his poignant short story, “The Thanksgiving Visitor,” an adaptation of which will be shown this month on television.
We think this is a meal that sets a very special mood, nostalgic and simple, just right for festive family gatherings during the holidays.
Shown are Mr. Capote’s melt-in-the-mouth cold banana pudding, topped with airy meringue; casserole of whipped sweet potatoes, raisins and apple; homemade, hand-dipped chocolates (wait till you see how easy), candied fruit slices and sugared almonds; ambrosia, the dessert of the gods; and naturally, the great golden-brown roast turkey.
And there’s more, all delicious, all easy on the budget, which, goodness knows, is under a strain right now: corn and green beans, piping-hot beaten biscuits, cornbread, cranberry — orange relish, olives and celery and that great favorite, pumpkin pie. To drink — a giant jug of tart apple cider.
Candy-making on a rainy day is tricky, as high humidity prevents proper setting. Wait for a dry day.
In a small, heavy saucepan, heat 3 cups dark corn syrup to 280 F, or soft crack stage. (A simple test is to drop a little hot syrup into a bowl of cold water. When the syrup is cold, test degree of setting by breaking in half. Should snap gently.) Do not stir syrup while cooking.
Remove from heat when syrup reaches correct temperature. Quickly stir in 1 cup whole blanched almonds, taking care to coat all with candy. Cool until they are just warm.
Using wet hands, remove coated almonds one at a time. Roll into even shape. Place on oiled wire rack to harden. Work as quickly as possible. (This makes about 1/2 pound.)
Truman Capote’s quick chocolate fudge recipe
Beat together 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened, and 1 tablespoon heavy cream (or milk) until smooth. Gradually beat in 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar.
Blend in 2 (2-ounce) packages of pre-melted, unsweetened chocolate, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir in 1-1/2 cups chopped filberts (or walnuts).
Spread into a well-buttered 8-inch pan. Chill 2 to 3 hours or until firm. Cut into small squares. (Makes about 1 pound.)
Bittersweet French chocolates
Melt 1 (8-ounce) package unsweetened chocolate (8 squares) and 1 (4-ounce) bar sweet chocolate in top of double boiler over hot water. Remove from water.
Stir in 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, blending thoroughly. Cool slightly. Shape into small balls, using 1 teaspoon of chocolate per candy.
Roll half of the candies in 1 cup finely chopped pecans (or walnuts) if desired. Allow to stand 1 hour to become firm. Store in a covered container. (Makes about 75 chocolates.)
Truman Capote’s Ambrosia
This ambrosia from Truman Capote’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes is a good make-ahead dessert — improves with 24 hours in the refrigerator, and will keep, tightly sealed, for up to three days.
- 6 large, sweet navel oranges
- 1 (1-pound / 14-ounce) can pineapple slices, drained
- 1 (3-1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup sweet sherry
Peel, thinly slice cross-wise, and seed 6 large, sweet navel oranges. In a large, shallow dessert bowl, arrange 3 oranges, sliced, alternately with half the pineapple slices from the can of pineapple slices, drained.
Sprinkle with half the coconut from canned flaked coconut, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Repeat this, using remaining oranges, pineapple, coconut and sugar.
Pour 2/3 cup sweet sherry evenly over all. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or foil and chill until serving time. (Serves 6 to 8.)
Chocolate coconut drops
Melt 2 tablespoons butter or margarine and add 2 tablespoons water and 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
In a bowl, blend together 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir into butter mixture, along with 2-2/3 cups flaked coconut (from 1 (7-ounce) package.
Shape into balls about 3/4-inch in diameter. Let stand 30 minutes, or until firm.
Melt 2 (2-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate in top of double boiler, over hot water. Cool slightly. Dip top of each candy in chocolate. Stand bottom of candy on waxed paper for chocolate to set. (Makes 36 to 40 candies.)
Truman Capote’s beaten biscuits
Old Southern recipes called for 1/2 hour of pounding. We knead 1/2 minute. The alternate to our method is to pass biscuit dough through the coarsest setting of a meat grinder 3 or 4 times.
In a medium bowl, sift together 2-1/2 cups sifted, all-purpose flour and 3/4 teaspoons salt. Cut 1/3 cup lard or shortening flour until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Bring dough together quickly. Turn onto floured board and knead for a minute.
Quickly shred dough with a sharp French knife. Press dough together, and repeat cutting process; do this 3 times more.
Roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter, and place biscuits on a greased baking sheet, pricking tops a fork. Bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350 F. (Makes 20 biscuits.)
Truman Capote’s giblet gravy recipe
Wash giblets and neck from turkey thoroughly. Place in a saucepan and cover with 6 cups water. Add 1 stalk celery, 1 large onion, quartered, 2-1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Bring to a boil; simmer, covered, for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until giblets are tender. Remove giblets from liquid and chop them coarsely, discarding any small bones, etc. Set aside. Strain broth and measure, adding water to make 5-1/3 cups liquid.
To make the gravy, place roast turkey on warm serving platter. Pour off pan drippings into measuring cup. Return 1/2 cup drippings to roasting pan and blend in 1/2 cup flour, stirring until very smooth, and browning slightly.
Stir to loosen all browned bits in pan. Remove from heat and gradually stir in 5-1/2 cups reserved giblet broth. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until gravy thickens. Boil 1 minute. Add chopped giblets and simmer over very low heat 4 to 5 minutes. Makes 6 cups.
[Original] Editor’s Note: For a very quick version, dice turkey liver finely and sauté in 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 5 minutes. Heat 3 (10-ounce) cans chicken gravy and 1/2 cup white wine. Add sautéed liver and heat 1 minute.
Truman Capote’s favorite corn recipe
Corn, all dressed up with cream and freshly-ground pepper.
In a medium saucepan, bring 1/4 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the boiling point. Add 2 (10-ounce) packages of frozen whole-kernel corn. Cover and bring to boiling point. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until just tender.
Drain well and toss with 2 tablespoons each butter or margarine and heavy cream. Serve piping hot, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper over top. (Serves 6 to 8.)
Whipped sweet potatoes, raisins and apple
If using fresh sweet potatoes, you need 4-pounds, unpeeled. Cook in boiling until tender and proceed as below. No electric mixer? Puree or sieve potatoes and beat remaining ingredients by hand.
- 3 (1-pound/1-ounce) cans sweet potatoes
- 1 (1-pound/4-ounce) can pie-sliced apples, drained
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
- 2/3 cup dark or golden raisins
Place sweet potatoes and pie-sliced drained apples, in large bowl of electric mixer. Beat until smooth, gradually add milk.
Beat butter or margarine, melted, brown sugar, molasses, 3 eggs and cinnamon, nutmeg and grated rind. Stir in cup dark (or golden) raisins.
Turn mixture into a 2-quart casserole. Bake, uncovered, 60 minutes at 325 F. (Serves 6 to 8.)
DON’T MISS THIS ONE: Truman Capote’s cold banana pudding recipe from 1968