Pumpkin Tarts (Mini Pumpkin Pies)

Pumpkin Tarts

Pumpkin Tarts with Cinnamon-Spiced Whipped Cream

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends and delighted in moist turkey, highly-caloric sides, and rich desserts.

With the past several weeks devoted to grading essays, preparing for a craft party, and baking for Thanksgiving, I finally have time to write a post. Yay!

Although I know I’m late to the Pumpkin Recipe Food Blogger Posting season, which runs from October 1st through Thanksgiving, I just have to share about these Pumpkin Tarts. Not only do these mini pies taste creamy and have an ever-so-slightly-tangy crust, but they have a lovely dollop of cinnamon-and-nutmeg-spiced whipped cream.

But I really want to share these today to tell you my tale of woe.

After slaving away at making the dough, the filling, and patiently waiting while they baked, the taste of the warm pumpkin tarts didn’t thrill me.

The following morning, though, after a stint in the fridge, I took another taste test. Much better, worthy now of taking to the holiday extravaganza.

Then the cinnamon whipped cream piped atop with a star tip made them look so adorable. Great taste + adorable looks = winner winner winner!!!

Fast forward to after-dinner-let’s-bring-on-the-dessert time.

Uh oh.

Puzzlement.

The mini pumpkin tarts had vanished. I searched high and low. I searched my brain trying to remember if I had piled the tarts on the kitchen counter along with the other zillion desserts.

After ages of wandering in circles looking for them and wracking my brain, I finally remembered that after piping on those adorable little puffs of whipped cream, I had placed the container back in the fridge.

And totally forgot to take them out before leaving!!!!!!!

Utter disappointment that I didn’t get to share these.

But now I get to eat them all!!!!

And they taste mighty delightful for both breakfast and lunch.

So, here are a few notes about the recipe:

  • I used the cream cheese dough from the Pecan Tarts recipe. Easy to work with. Can be rolled into balls and left in the muffin tins made a day or two in advance.
  • The pumpkin filling takes slightly more labor than the usual recipe for pumpkin pie but bakes into the silkiest, creamiest pumpkin pie. Totally worth it. Can also be made a day or two ahead of time, which then allows for the flavors to marry and mingle.
  • Cinnamon-spiced whipped cream. Takes this over the top. Don’t skip it!
Pumpkin Tarts

Pumpkin Tarts

Pumpkin Tarts (Mini Pumpkin Pies)

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Yield: 6 dozen tarts

INGREDIENTS

Cream Cheese Pastry Dough

  • 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), room temperature
  • 3 1/3 cups flour (14 ounces)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of yams in syrup, drained
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (grade B used for cooking/baking: see Huffington Post info)
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt

Cinnamon-Spiced Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch (if you want to stabilize the whipped cream, which allows it to last longer, maintain its shape, and not separate after a day)

DIRECTIONS

Cream Cheese Pastry Dough

  1. Allow cream cheese and butter to soften to room temperature. To speed this process, cut cream cheese and butter into small chunks.
  2. Blend cream cheese and butter (use wooden spoon, pastry blender, or food processor).
  3. Sift then measure flour; add salt and whisk to blend. Stir into cream cheese and butter until flour is absorbed.
  4. Form 1-inch balls (I used my small cookie dough scoop) and place into ungreased muffin tins. Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove pastry from refrigerator. Form shells by using tart tamper: Dip tamper into flour to prevent it from sticking to dough. Press tamper into the dough ball in each muffin well until the dough rises up the sides and to the top. If you don’t have a tamper, press dough with thumb around the edges and bottom until muffin well is evenly covered. Place tart shells back in refrigerator until ready to use. At this point, you can cover them tightly with plastic wrap and store in fridge for a couple of days.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together heavy cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine pumpkin purée, drained yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; bring to a sputtering simmer. Continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly and mashing yams, until thick and shiny. (I used my immersion blender to mash the yams.)
  3. Remove saucepan from heat; whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. To remove any lumps and create a silky-smooth mixture, run it through a fine-meshed sieve. At this point, you can store filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or you can use immediately. If not using immediately, rewarm the mixture before filling tart shells.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Fill tart shells to the top. Carefully transfer muffin pan to preheated oven. Bake tarts for 30 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to wire rack and allow to cool completely. Chill in refrigerator overnight.

Cinnamon-Spiced Whipped Cream

  1. Using an electric or stand mixer, mix heavy cream until soft peaks form. Start at low speed and increase speed to medium-high as cream begins to thicken.
  2. When cream thickens enough to form soft peaks when you raise the beaters, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg (and cornstarch if you want to stabilize the whipped cream). Beat until mixture thickens enough to maintain peaks, which shouldn’t take but a few seconds more of beating.
  3. Either dollop the whipped cream onto the tarts that have chilled overnight, or pipe onto tarts using star tip.

adapted from the following SOURCES:

Pecan Tarts (also known as Pecan Tassies)

Back in December, one of my students gave me a container of homemade pecan tarts (also known as pecan tassies). I had never tasted pecan pie prior to that. Boy, have I been missing out on a tasty little treat!

They were ultra-delicious chewy little packages of sweetness and nuttiness wrapped in a flaky mini pie shell–cute to boot as well as yummy. I could hardly wait for my precious two-week winter break from teaching to end so I could ask her for the recipe. However, her family declined to share it because it’s a family “secret” recipe. Bummed, I scoured the internet for other sources of this delight. No shortage of recipes on the internet–whew!

This morning I developed an intense craving for these mini cuties, so I caved and departed from my healthful eating since the new year (okay, that’s a lie; I broke that path a week or two ago).

The tart shell includes cream cheese, imparting a tangy flavor to the crust. The filling uses brown sugar, so it adds a caramel-y flavor. I also used vanilla bean paste to deepen the sweetness of the vanilla taste. And I toasted the pecans to enhance the earthy nuttiness. Oh my…these little tarts explode with scrumptiousness!

The wooden gadget is a tart tamper.

You need a mini muffin pan to make these. And this tool called a tart tamper makes forming the tart shells a breeze! I had a heck of a time finding the tamper, though. I didn’t find it at several local small kitchen shops nor did I find it at Sur La Table or Bed Bath and Beyond. I finally found it at a small cake shop near my home, Classic Cake Decorations, and amazon.com sells them, too. It’s a handy dandy purchase, and now I want to make other mini tarts just because they are cute and this tool is fun to use! Oh, the small cookie dough scoop allows for uniform size of the dough balls, so that is handy, too.

Pecan Tarts 

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INGREDIENTS

Cream Cheese Pastry

  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Pecan Filling

  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla or vanilla bean paste
  • dash of salt
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cream Cheese Pastry: Allow cream cheese and butter to soften to room temperature. To speed this process, cut cream cheese and butter into small chunks.
  2. Blend cream cheese and butter (use wooden spoon, pastry blender, or mixer).
  3. Sift then measure flour; add salt and whisk to blend. Stir into cream cheese and butter until flour is absorbed.
  4. Form 1-inch balls (I used my small cookie dough scoop) and place into ungreased muffin tins. Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. For pecan filling, toast chopped pecans by spreading them on a jellyroll pan and baking in a 350 degree F oven for 5 minutes. Beat together egg, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add toasted pecans.
  6. Tart shells: Remove pastry from refrigerator. Form shells by using tart tamper : Dip tamper into flour to prevent it from sticking to dough. Press tamper into the dough ball in each muffin well until the dough rises up the sides and to the top (allow dough to reach top; otherwise, pecan filling may cause tart to stick to pan). If you don’t have a tamper, press dough with thumb around the edges and bottom until muffin well is evenly covered.
  7. Bake in 325 degree F oven for 25 minutes or until filling is set. Place on cooling rack for 5 minutes then remove from pan to further cool.

Yield: 30 tarts

SOURCE: adapted from My Adventures in the Country