Thanksgiving Recipe: Poppy Pastry Chef Dana Cree

Last week, I sat down with pastry chef Dana Cree of Poppy in Capitol Hill, and asked her what she likes to bake during the holidays. She gave us this delicious, zesty gingersnap recipe--perfectly crisp around the edges, a chewy center, and a top flecked with coarse sugar for extra crunch. Need I tell you they are absolutely addictive? 

I also asked her a few questions about holiday traditions of her own, and what we can look forward to on the Poppy dessert menu this fall/winter. If you haven't had Dana's sweets, I urge you to check them out--I visited Poppy with a few friends, and we ordered one of every ice-cream, and two of her desserts. My favorites? The chocolate chip licorice ice-cream, and the bay leaf ice-cream with hot, deep-dish apple pie.

Tell me a little bit about what you're doing at Poppy now--I see you're looking for inspiration for fall desserts. What should readers look forward to in the next month or two on the dessert menu? 

Currently at Poppy I am shifting away from desserts focused heavily on fresh fruits and herbs from out gardens, as they are clearly no longer available. We still try to keep desserts focused on fruits, but are starting to utilize vegetables like squashes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips. The menu is seeing a reintroduction of really rich flavors, like our seasonal warm date cake drowned in muscavado butterscotch, scattered with butter roasted pecans, and topped with a rich banana custard ice cream. I am starting to reach for the spice jars rather than a pair of scissors to cut fresh herbs when I develop desserts. We are always looking for ways to show you familiar flavors in unfamiliar ways, like the hazelnut and caraway strussel that tops our wildberry sundae, or simply introduce you to new flavors altogether like black cardamom or maple blossoms.

Looking forward I am finalizing a malted parsnip ice cream and a goat cheese pudding, slippery like a traditional american bowl of pudding, scented with vanilla and rose, rich with a local goat cheese, and topped with deep red quince, candied pistachios, and spiced honey.

I am also taking a hand in developing the non alcoholic beverages for Poppy, so look for interesting sodas, like celery soda (a spin on Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, a Jewish east coast traditional soda), and a Tahitian Vanilla Bean Cream Soda

What is your favorite thing about baking in the fall/winter?

I wait all year for the weather to cool and the leaves to fall, for people to start wrapping themselves in warm textile layers. It is then I know I can start wrapping my desserts in warm layers of spices and richness. I also love love love the nostalgia that comes along with eating through the holidays. There is such a strong emotional tie to what we eat in the fall and winter and I love observing it. 

Any holiday dessert traditions you have with your family/friends? Did your parents (or any other member of your family) make a special dessert every Thanksgiving?

Half of my Dad's family is Yakima (not from the town, from the tribe), so our biggest