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:

Burned Chocolate Bundt Cake Revamped into Chocolate Berry Trifle

For once, I decided on simplicity for Christmas dessert, especially since we were journeying about 1 1/2 hours to my sister-in-law’s home for Christmas dinner and the dessert had to sustain travel. A simple chocolate bundt cake dressed up with dark chocolate cinnamon glaze would suffice.

Alas, it wasn’t one of my successful baking days.

When I finally released the cake from the bundt pan, I found the outside had BURNED! Argh!!!

Imagine my frustration even more when I realized the clock read 8:00 pm and it was Christmas Eve.

After I calmed down from several minutes of stress and my mind spinning with thoughts of what I could quickly pull together for dessert, I decided to taste the cake with the hope that it wasn’t too disastrous and the glaze could cover the burn.

Although only a thin layer of the outside was burned and the inside was still moist, the charred taste dominated. Why throw it all away, though–which in my disgust at burning it I sorely wanted to do–when a majority of it was still edible?

I decided to cut off the burned edges and slice it up to make trifles.

Ironically, the first dessert I had contemplated making for the holiday was a Red Berry Trifle made with pound cake and cognac cream (from Ina Garten). So, back to my original plan, then, only now I had to make it work with chocolate cake.

I had to scramble to figure out how to put together a chocolate trifle. I decided to use my triple frozen berries from Costco–choosing the raspberries and blackberries but omitting the blueberries –for the fruit layer. Awhile back I had made blackberry jam (from Giada De Laurentis), so that was ready to spread onto the cake layers. Next was figuring out how to make a chocolate custard, for that seemed like it would coordinate well. Custard required more ingredients and time than pudding, so I opted for a pudding recipe instead. (By the way, custard is the “egg cousin” of pudding because it includes eggs in the recipe; otherwise, the consistency is similar). And finally, I quickly whipped up some sweetened cream to top it all off.

Whew! From disaster comes success.

Chocolate Berry  Trifle

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INGREDIENTS

  • chocolate cake (Bundt cake recipe below)
  • berry jam of choice
  • berries (fresh is best but frozen works, too–just thaw them first)
  • chocolate custard or pudding (recipe below)
  • sweetened whipped cream (recipe below)
  • chocolate shavings for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut cake into 1/2-inch thick slices. Spread each slice with jam. Layer in bottom of large trifle dish or individual trifle cups.
  2. Spread a layer of berries on top of cake slice.
  3. Spread a layer of pudding over berries.
  4. Repeat as needed.
  5. Finally, add a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with sprinkles of chocolate.

Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake with Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Glaze

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INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 8 oz. butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup high quality Dutch Process Cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. instant espresso powder dissolved into 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I used Kosher)
  • optional: 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Glaze

  • 4 oz. high-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place oven rack in the middle position.
  2. Grease and flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan.
  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-heat; add cocoa, stirring until smooth (I sifted cocoa first; this makes blending it with butter easier).
  4. Whisk in espresso and water mixture and remove from heat.
  5. Add the sugar, whisking until dissolved, about one minute.
  6. Add sour cream, vanilla, and eggs; whisk until smooth.
  7. Add baking soda and salt; whisk.
  8. Add flour (sift it first); whisk until well blended (batter will be thin and bubbly).
  9. Fold in chocolate chips.
  10. Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap pan a few times on counter to eliminate bubbles. Bake for 40-45 minutes–until it feels firm to the touch and has slightly pulled away from sides of pan…or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Carefully loosen the cake with a knife and invert onto a large plate. Cool completely before glazing.

Glaze

  1. Place chocolate, butter, corn syrup, and cinnamon in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.
  2. Stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until melted and smooth.
  3. Pour warm glaze over bundt cake.
  4. Keep covered in a cake-keeper at room temperature for up to 4 days.

SOURCES: adapted from Sweetapolita (awesome cakes on her site!) and Merry Gourmet

Chocolate Pudding

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INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • whipped cream, for garnish when serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, cornstarch, and salt; set aside.
  2. Combine milk and vanilla in medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until small bubbles form around the edges.
  3. Add chopped chocolate to saucepan and stir with spatula until chocolate is melted, 1-2 minutes. (The chocolate may appear slightly specked and not completely melted. It will smooth out later.)
  4. Ladle about a quarter of the warm milk mixture into the bowl with the sugar mixture; whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk mixture. Return entire mixture to saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring with spatula, until mixture bubbles and thickens. Be sure to scrape bottom and sides of pan so mixture does not burn.
  5. Continue to cook until mixture is very thick, about 2 minutes. (To test, run a finger through the mixture on the back of a spatula–it should leave a distinct trail.)
  6. Divide the pudding between 6-8 serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill and set completely, at least 2 hours. Remove plastic wrap, top with whipped cream as desired, and serve.

SOURCE: Annie’s Eats

Sweetened Whipped Cream

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  2. Whip on medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, then switch to high speed until the cream just forms still peaks.
  3. Chill and serve cold.

SOURCE: Food Network (Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa)