Epicurean Charitable Foundation Scholarship Recipients Prepare Favorite Holiday Recipes

Ciro FoderaThe scholarship recipients of the Epicurean Charitable Foundation of Las Vegas (ECF) bring the culinary spirit of the holiday season with their favorite Thanksgiving recipes. 

A freshman at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City, Ciro Fodera loves to bake his specialty, pecan ginger pumpkin cookies.

Before moving to the Big Apple to pursue his love and passion for the culinary industry, Fodera interned in Canicatti, Sicily, as a prep chef at La Torre Home Services.

Cheyenne Vallette, a sophomore at the University of Las Vegas, Nev., is majoring in culinary arts management. For a traditional Thanksgiving side dish, Vallette’s specialty recipe is the sweet potato soufflé made with marshmallows.

With a genuine passion for food, Vallette hopes to own a pastry shop one day.


Pecan Ginger Pumpkin Cookies:

Ingredients (3 dozen cookies)

  • 1 cup pecan halves, divided
  • 1 cup 100% bran cereal
  • 1/4 cup light molasses
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup Powdered Sugar Icing (see recipe below)
  • 3/4 cup candy corn pieces


Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove a couple of the pecan halves; set aside. Finely chop remaining pecans; set aside. Mix cereal, molasses and egg until well blended; let stand 5 minutes. Mix flour, baking soda and spices in separate bowl; set aside.

Beat margarine and 3/4 cup of the sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add cereal mixture; mix well. Stir in flour mixture until well blended. Add chopped pecans; mix well. Shape into 36 balls, each about 1 inch in diameter; roll in remaining 1/4 cup sugar until evenly coated. Place, 2 inches apart, on lightly greased baking sheets. Flatten the balls. REPLACE 1 whole pecan into top edge of dough round for the “pumpkin’s stem.”

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies feel set to the touch. Let stand 1 minute; remove to wire racks. Cool completely. Spread each cookie with 1 tsp. of the Powdered Sugar Icing. Decorate with candy corn, using about 3 pieces on each cookie. Let stand until icing is set.

Powdered Sugar Icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • Mix sugar and milk until well blended.


If a thinner consistency is desired, gradually stir in up to 1 Tbsp. of additional milk.

Cheyenne Vallette
Cheyenne Vallette

Sweet Potato Soufflé with Homemade Marshmallows:


  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Marshmallows (recipe follows)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. Boil the potatoes in water with the salt until tender. Drain the potatoes and cool to room temperature. Blend the potatoes with the remaining ingredients in a blender. Pour the blended mixture into a 9 by 13-inch casserole pan that has been greased with butter. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes until almost set and lightly browned. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F. Top the soufflé with the marshmallows and then return to the oven. Continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes until the marshmallows are golden. Enjoy!

About Epicurean Charitable Foundation Las Vegas
Comprised of more than 40 of Las Vegas’ top food and beverage executives, the Epicurean Charitable Foundation not only awards students with scholarship funds to attend any four-year accredited university of their choice, it also provides mentorship throughout each student’s college career and helps to place the students in internships and jobs. 2011 marks the tenth year of the Epicurean Charitable Foundation and in its tenure the foundation has provided over one million dollars to local scholars and also over one million in charitable community grants to such organizations as Make-A-Wish Foundation, Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, UNLV Rebel Athletic Foundation, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Nevada Cancer Institute. The Epicurean Charitable Foundation Las Vegas can be reached 702-932-5098 or by visiting www.ECFLV.org. Become a friend on Facebook: www.facebook.com/epicureanlv or follow ECFLV on Twitter: www.twitter.com/epicureanlv