pumpkin brulee tarts

Hi Every-one,

I normally use pumpkin in savoury dishes like pumpkin soup, roast pumpkin risotto or pumpkin and ricotta cannelloni. It's not Fall and we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Sydney but with so many pumpkin flavoured desserts popping up all over the internet, I thought it was my turn to feature some 'pumpkiny' baking on the blog.

Initially I planned to make pumpkin flavoured cream brulees but with a little leftover pastry in the freeze, I searched the internet for a pumpkin brulee tart recipe. I found this one by Anna Olson and set to work adapting it.

With the pastry already made, all I needed to do was change the filling a little. Firstly I oven roasted a piece of pumpkin to make the puree; I cut the sugar in half because the butternut pumpkin puree was already quite sweet then I skipped the brandy because I don't have any in the house. I was going to use rum instead of the brandy but after making 2 Christmas cakes on Saturday, there wasn't any left. I used cream instead as the pumpkin mixture was quite thick and needed a little more liquid. I wanted the pumpkin tarts to taste more like pumpkin pie so I added a few extra spices to the filling.

Here's the recipe for you, which should make eight 10 cm tarts. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Pumpkin Brulee Tarts, inspired by Anna Olson.

¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
1¼ cups plain flour
110 gm (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
cold water

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and a little cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade.

Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use greaseproof paper) and roll out thinly with a rolling pin.

Grease eight 10 cm tartlet tins. Cut out circles of pastry large enough to fit the tart shells. Line the tins with the pastry and trim the edges of the tart tins with a sharp knife. Lightly prick the pastry surface with the tines of a fork and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Line the tart shells with muffin liners and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tart shells are golden then remove paper and weights. Place the tart shells on a wire rack to cool.

Pumpkin filling
180g (6 oz) cream cheese
½ cup packed brown sugar
6 egg yolks
¾ cup pumpkin puree
¾ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg and cloves
45 mls cream
Granulated sugar for bruleeing

Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F. Place the tart shells onto a baking tray.

In a jug, combine cream cheese and brown sugar with a stick blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend till smooth. Pour the filling through a sieve into a smaller jug then pour the filling into the tart shells.

Bake the tarts for 15 minutes or until the filling has set around the edges but still wobbles in the middle. Turn off the oven; leave the door ajar and leave the tarts in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Place the tarts on a wire rack to cool. Let the tarts come to room temperature before refrigerating for a few hours.

You can serve these as is but if you'd like to brulee the tarts, then sprinkle sugar on top of the tarts and use a blow torch (or place under a hot grill) to melt and caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.

The verdict - the crunchy, slightly burnt sugar topping elevates the delicious pumpkin pie filling to a new level. 

On a sadder note, my heart is heavy following the attacks on Paris last Friday. Paris is one of my favourite cities and the 10e is where I normally stay. 2015 has been a challenging year for me personally and it can't end quickly enough. Roll on 2016!


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