Pumpkin Creme Brulee Tarts

Now that I have actually sat down and committed myself to making a post, I must say, it’s a nice change. From limits and derivatives. And glycolysis, anaerobic respiration and fermentation. Especially philosophy papers on whether or not love involves “appraising the beloved as valuable”. Seriously, what does that even mean?
If there’s one thing I know what it means though, it’s Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving means pumpkin pie. But frankly, pumpkin pie can get kind of boring. So last weekend I decided to try out Anna Olson’s recipe for mini pumpkin creme brulee tarts instead. Seriously, you can never go wrong with her recipes. This one was like a cross between pumpkin pie, cheesecake and creme brulee. I normally don’t even like desserts in which chocolate is absent but this was an exception. Also, I quite enjoyed how there wasn’t an overwhelming flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and ginger that you come to expect from pumpkin pie. Instead the cognac was at the forefront and it did an amazing job of tying it all together. And I can’t forget the dough itself. No boring, tough, bland pie dough here. It just tasted like a shortbread cookie. Enough said.
Pumpkin creme brûlée tarts

Pumpkin Creme Brulee Tarts
Adaptation of Anna Olson’s recipe

Dough

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. softened butter
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup pastry flour

This dough is just like making shortbread cookies. Actually you could use it to make them if you wanted. First sift the icing sugar into the butter and cream them together until smooth. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, mixing until combined. Finally sift in the flour. Once it is fully incorporated, wrap the dough up in plastic wrap and refrigerate it (shape it into a log, it will be easier to slice and roll later). It needs a good hour or so to chill, otherwise it will be too soft to work with. After it has firmed up, you can slice it into 8 portions and roll each out to between 1/4 and 1/8 of an inch thick. Press the dough into each tart shell and dock the bottoms with a fork. I know you will want to bake them immediately but chill them one more time first. Otherwise you run the risk that the butter will just melt out of the dough. After 10 to 15 minutes in the freezer, you should be golden (but not literally, that’s where the baking comes in). Bake at 325 F for about 15-18 minutes. Cool completely prior to filling.

Pumpkin creme brûlée tarts

Filling

8 oz. (250 g) light cream cheese, softened
1 cup brown sugar
7 egg yolks
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. cognac

Blend everything (I used my Bamix but a blender or food processor would do the trick) until smooth. Fill the cooled tart shells and bake at 325 F for 18-20 minutes or until the filling has set. Cool before removing the tartlets from the molds. Refrigerate them if you aren’t serving immediately. Now they could be eaten as is, but sprinkling the tops with sugar and bruleeing them helps them to stand out from your typical pumpkin pie. The traditional dollop of whipped cream on top never hurts though.

Here’s an extra tip for you. Chances are if you go out and buy a can of pumpkin to use, there will more than likely be some leftovers. It’s perfect for soup a couple days after Thanksgiving when you are sick of leftovers but still too lazy to do any significant cooking. The soup I came up with literally had 3 ingredients; the pumpkin puree, thinned out with a can of coconut milk and some additional vegetable stock. No brown sugar, no cinnamon, just simple salt and pepper to season. It may have been the easiest soup I’ve ever made.

Pumpkin creme brûlée tarts

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