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My Practice Pumpkin Tart

November 14th, 2008 · 68 Comments

Pumpkin Tart

No matter how elaborate a feast my sister and I prepare every Thanksgiving, there are those in our family who will mutiny if there are any traditional dishes (like green bean casserole) missing. Unfortunately for them, my sister and I love to experiment (and hate using cream-of-anything soup). So I’m always on the lookout for dishes that will satisfy traditionalists without being strictly the same old thing. My Mom insists on having a “normal” pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving, and this is an elegant tart version of the classic. I decided to take this recipe for a test drive last weekend.

And it wasn’t pretty. My main problem was that I didn’t wait long enough to let the oven preheat completely. I put my crust in with the pie weights, then took the pie weights out at the specified time, but the crust was still too underdone. It shriveled up inside the tart pan as it continued baking. When I poured my pumpkin custard mix inside, the crust wasn’t high enough and the eggy filling started seeping into the gap between pan and crust, and then even out the bottom of the pan. I shrugged, plopped the tart onto a cookie sheet and stuck it into the oven.

I’m not so picky about my desserts. I like them all – doughnuts, cookies, pies, cakes. . . But sometimes I feel like I have to force-feed these sweets to Geoff. He isn’t blessed (cursed?) with a huge sweet tooth like me. But after we had each eaten a slice of this tart and I was putting it away, the unthinkable happened: Geoff asked for more! It wasn’t pretty, but it was delicious.

If you dare to make this tart be careful with this crust – it’s tricky. And be sure to bring all the custard ingredients to room temperature before baking. Good luck!

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Tart
Adapted from Gourmet

That tricky pastry dough:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons ice water

Stir together flour, sugar, and salt, then blend in butter with your fingertips just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small pea-sized butter lumps. Stir together egg yolk and 1 1/2 tablespoons water and drizzle evenly over butter mixture. Gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful of dough. If it doesn’t hold together, add remaining 1/2 tablespoon ice water, stirring until incorporated. Be careful not to overwork the dough, or the pastry will be tough.

Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat.

Gather all dough into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.

Pumpkin filling ingredients:
1 1/2 cups pure pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups heavy cream

Use an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom

Make tart shell:
Prepare dough and chill as directed in dough recipe. Roll out dough into a 14-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, then fit into tart pan and trim excess dough. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Lightly prick bottom of shell with a fork, then line with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake shell until side is set and edge is pale golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove foil and weights and bake shell until golden all over, about 15 minutes more. Cool completely in pan. Leave oven on.

Fill and bake tart:
Whisk together pumpkin, sugar spices, and salt in large bowl. Whisk in eggs, then cream.

Pour filling into cooled tart shell and bake until puffed about 1 1/2 inches from edge and center is just set, 40 to 45 minutes. (Cover edge of tart with foil if browning too quickly.) Cool in pan, about 2 hours. (Tart will continue to set as it cools.)

Make-ahead tip: Tart shell can be baked 1 day ahead and kept (once cool), wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Tags: baking · dessert · dinner · recipes · thanksgiving · weekend project

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