Favorite Holiday Desserts from the First Ladies of the Missouri Mansion

First Lady Parson, the staff of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion, and the Friends of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion graciously invited us into the mansion for a special gourmet treat in their historic state dining room. The mansion’s tradition of serving incredible gourmet meals wouldn’t be complete without one of these three delicious recipes.

The Missouri Governor’s Mansion hosts more than 50,000 visitors a year. In one day, they may host breakfast for 20 people, feed 300 fourth graders for tours, and have a state dinner in the evening. The current team members who pull this off are:

Shari Childs, Executive Director
Chelsea Robbins, Assistant Executive Director
Erica Hansbrough, Food and Beverage Director
Brandon Kampeter, Mansion Executive Chef
Emma Vincent, First Lady’s Chief of Staff
Rebecca Gordon, Executive Director of Friends of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

A holiday favorite of First Lady Parson


1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces cool whip
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
16 ounces frozen strawberries
2 3-ounce packages of strawberry Jell-O


Melt butter and add pretzels and sugar. Press into 13-inch by 9-inch pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Set aside to cool. Mix cream cheese, cool whip, and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread mixture over crust and refrigerate until set. Heat two cups of water in an 8-cup bowl. Add Jell-O and microwave for two minutes until completely dissolved. Add frozen strawberries and let partially set, pour over cream cheese mixture, and refrigerate until completely firm.

Missouri Mansion Perfect Pecan Pie

Pie filling ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups corn syrup
(1/2 dark and 1/2 light)
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely broken

Pie crust ingredients:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose fl our
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), diced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Flour for rolling dough

Pie crust directions:

Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles yellow corn meal mixed with bean sized bits of butter. (If the mixture gets warm, refrigerate it for 10 minutes before proceeding.) Add egg and stir the dough together with a fork or by hand in the bowl. If the dough is dry, sprinkle up to a tablespoon of cold water over the mixture. Form the dough into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough with a rolling pin into a 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan, trim the edges, leaving about an extra inch around the edge. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge even with the rim. Flute the edge as desired.

Pie filling directions:

In a saucepan, boil sugar and corn syrup together for two to three minutes, then set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly and very slowly pour the syrup mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly. Strain the mixture to make sure it’s smooth and lump free. Stir in butter, vanilla, and pecans, and then pour into pie crust. Bake pie for 30
to 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Missouri Mansion Roasted Bartlett Pears with Honey Mascarpone


3 Bartlett pears
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup honey
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
8 ounces heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons pistachios
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pears in half and remove the pits. Place them skin side down in a baking dish. Place a half teaspoon of butter in the center of each pear and generously drizzle with honey. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. With a hand mixer, mix heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, ½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, and the mascarpone. With a wooden spoon, slowly mix everything. When the pears are roasted and golden brown, place one half of a pear, skin side down, on a serving plate. Add one tablespoon of mascarpone cream in the center and top with the pistachios, leftover pumpkin pie spice, and an additional drizzle of honey.

Silver Service from USS Missouri

Information provided by Rebecca Gordon, Friends of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion

Throughout the history of the U.S. Navy, there have been four vessels that carried the proud name USS Missouri.  The first was a side-wheel steam frigate commissioned in 1841.  Steam engine technology had just reached a level of power and dependability that made steam-powered ships practical on the open ocean.  USS Missouri went through nearly two years of trials and tests before she received her first mission.  While conveying a diplomat to China, she caught fire in Gibraltar harbor and sank in 1843.

The next ship named USS Missouri was a Maine-class battleship with hull number BB-11; her crew nicknamed the ship Mizzy.  Commissioned in 1900, Mizzy was part of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet in 1907.  In 1904, the citizens of Missouri gave the ship a sterling silver punch bowl with a tray, ladle and 20 cups.  This punch bowl witnessed a major change in naval drinking and dining tradition when alcoholic beverages were banned aboard US Navy ships on July 1, 1914.  While Mizzy’s punch bowl might have held wine based punch for its first 10 years aboard ship, the punch bowl has not served punch with alcohol aboard a Navy ship for 100 years.    Mizzy served as a training ship during World War I, and then helped transport troops and equipment back to the U.S. after the war.  In 1922, the ship was scrapped as part of a treaty to reduce naval power worldwide.

In 1944, the Iowa-class battleship USS Missouri, hull number BB-63, was christened by Margaret Truman, daughter of Senator Harry S Truman.  Nicknamed Mighty Mo, she was the last battleship to serve in the U.S. Navy.  As a gift, the citizens of Missouri sent the ship 18 sterling silver place settings for formal banquets served aboard ship.

The current vessel to carry the name USS Missouri, a Virginia-class attack submarine, hull number SSN-780, was commissioned in 2010.  Gov. Jay Nixon and First Lady Georganne Nixon attended the commissioning in Groton, Conn.

One other naval vessel has borne the name Missouri.  The Confederate navy launched the CSS Missouri in 1863.  She was a paddle-wheel ironclad that patrolled the Red River near Shreveport, La.  On June 3, 1865, CSS Missouri claimed the distinction of the last Confederate ironclad to surrender to the U.S. Navy.

History of the USS Missouri Silver 

There is a long-standing tradition in the Navy of taking aboard ship something from a previous ship that carried the same name in order to bring some of the earlier vessel’s spirit into the new ship.  In 1947, Mighty Mo brought the silver punch bowl from Mizzy out of storage.  When the submarine USS Missouri was commissioned in 2010, the punch bowl was used in the ceremony, once again keeping the tradition alive.

All the Iowa class battleships were named for different states, and most, if not all, of those states supplied the silver service for the captain’s table.  Battleship captains have entertained their officers and guests aboard ship as far back as the early 1700s.  In the British Navy, the early officer corps was part of the English nobility.  As such, they were all “gentlemen” and were expected to entertain and set a good table.  The tradition was continued aboard Mighty Mo through the donation of silverware for 18 place settings for a five-course banquet.

Today, USS Missouri (BB-63) serves as a floating museum at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  One place setting of the captain’s silver service is on display at the Harry S Truman Library & Museum in Independence, Mo.  The remaining 17 place settings are stored in the Missouri Governor’s Mansion.