I have a bone to pick with America’s end-of-year food-centric holidays. Why is it that all the flavors of Thanksgiving are still acceptable to serve at Christmas, except pumpkin? I mean, sweet potatoes, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, green beans, sage, turkey, pecans, apples – they’re all carried over past the fourth Thursday in November, but pumpkin is abruptly dropped and seemingly considered verboten even one day past Turkey Day. Why? I mean seriously, who made that rule?
I’m not accepting this. Pumpkin isn’t that different from the rest, and too many people love it to just wantonly disregard it with such a thud. It should be in our collective repertoire until at least December 25th.
If you agree, then you just have to make this superb pumpkin dessert for your Christmas feast. It’s more work than a typical pumpkin pie, but it’s also much more special, and more than delicious enough to be worth it. One small change I made to Fine Cooking’s recipe: they call for candying raw unsalted pepitas. I didn’t do that for two reasons. One, because it’s yet *another* step in an already involved and time-consuming recipe; and two, because online reviewers said it made the tart too sweet. I was extremely happy with my results. Enjoy!
Source: slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbs fine cornmeal
1 tbs granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
8 tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vodka
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup bourbon
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup plus 2 tbs canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
½ cup half-and-half
A few handfuls of salted, roasted pepitas, for garnish
First make the CRUST: pulse the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal or wet sand. Combine the egg, egg yolk, vodka and 1 tbs ice water in a small bowl. Add the egg mixture to the processor and pulse until the mixture just comes together, adding more water 1 tsp at a time as needed, up to 2 tbs. Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to help gather the dough into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On a floured work surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 13-inch circle. Carefully transfer the dough to a greased 9-inch springform pan, gently pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan without stretching it. Tear any high areas of the dough so that the height is about ½ an inch below the rim of the pan; the edge will look ragged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork at 1-inch intervals, line it with aluminum foil, and fill it to the top with dried beans, gently pressing them against the sides. Bake until the edges are firm, 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and beans. Return the crust to the oven and bake, rotating the pan once and popping any bubbles with a toothpick, just until the bottom is firm, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Leave the oven on.
Now make the CARAMEL: in a 2-quart saucepan, cook the brown sugar, butter and salt over medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts and begins to darken around the edges, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cream (some sugar may seize) and simmer, whisking occasionally, until smooth and thick, 7-9 minutes. Whisk in the bourbon and simmer, whisking occasionally, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof measuring cup. Pour 1/3 cup caramel over the bottom of the cooled crust and spread it evenly with a small offset spatula. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to set the caramel. Leave the remaining caramel at room temperature.
Make the FILLING: in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and then the egg yolk, beating until combined. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix thoroughly until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the half-and-half. Mix until just combined.
Slowly pour the filling into the crust. Bake until filling has puffed slightly and its surface no longer appears wet, 35 to 40 minutes. It’s okay if cracks form, they’ll be covered later. Cool the tart on a rack until the filling is completely cooled and warm, about 1 hour.
If the remaining caramel sauce is no longer pourable, warm it in the microwave until pourable. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the custard and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the pepitas around the edges of the top caramel and press lightly. Cover the tart with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. To serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the tart and remove the side of the pan. Transfer to a serving plate and serve chilled.