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Pumpkin Tarts Recipe & Video

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Individual Pumpkin Tarts. Doesn't that sound good? No need to cut a slice. No need to share. Just your own round of buttery crisp pastry filled with a smooth and creamy pumpkin filling. Of course, a nice dollop of whipped cream on top makes it even tastier. What I like is that they don't take that much longer to make and they are ideal when you are having a buffet table with an assortment of desserts.  

When making pastry, my personal preference is a butter pastry as I love its buttery flavor and crumbly texture. Once the pastry is made and placed in the muffin cups, I like to sprinkle some crushed ginger cookie crumbs over the unbaked pastry. The advantage of doing this is twofold; it adds flavor, and it prevents the crust from becoming soggy. After pressing the cookie crumbs onto the unbaked pastry, all that is left to do is to make the pumpkin filling. The main problem everyone has with pumpkin pies is that the filling has a tendency to crack. There are a few things we can do to minimize the amount of cracking. One, do not over mix the ingredients. So I find it best to mix the ingredients together by hand, not in a mixer or food processor. Second, do not over bake the tarts. Remove the tarts from the oven when they are just set, and a knife inserted into the filling comes out almost clean. 

Now, to make our lives easier we really do not have to make our own pumpkin puree as there are excellent brands of canned pure pumpkin on the market today. Just make sure you do not buy the pumpkin which already has the spices added to it. That being said, if you have the time and are so inclined, you can make your own puree using the smaller pumpkin varieties like Sugar Pie, Baby Bear or Cheese Pumpkin (approximately 5-7 lbs., 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 kg.). To begin this process, first cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove all the seeds and stringy fibers, and then place cut-side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours (depending on size) or until easily pierced with a knife. Scoop out the pulp and puree in a food processor until smooth. You do need to extract all the liquid, so strain the pumpkin through a cheesecloth lined strainer and then cool the puree before using.

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Pastry: Place the flour, salt, and sugar in your food processor and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add about 2 - 3 tablespoons water and process just until the pastry holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water.

Turn the pastry onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30- 60 minutes or until firm. (This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour.) After the pastry has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface, and roll until the pastry is about 1/8 inch thick. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Using about a 4 inch (10 cm) round cookie cutter, cut into 12 rounds. Gently place the rounds into a 12-cup muffin tin. Press about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of crushed ginger cookie crumbs onto the bottom of each pastry shell. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes or until the pastry is firm. 

Meanwhile preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Pumpkin Filling: In a large bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Evenly fill the tart shells with the filling and bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is lightly brown around the edges and the filling has set (a knife inserted into the filling comes out just a little wet). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Chantilly Cream: Place the cold whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Place the cream in a pastry bag, fitted with a star tip, and pipe rosettes on the top of each tart.

Can be covered and stored in the refrigerator 2 to 3 days.

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1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt

1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, diced

3 - 4 tablespoons ice water

1/4 cup (25 grams) crushed gingersnap cookies (optional)

Pumpkin Filling:

2 large eggs, at room temperature (110 grams without shells)

1 1/2 cups (350 grams) pure pumpkin puree

1/2 cup (120 grams) heavy whipping cream (cream with 35-40% butterfat content)

1/3 cup (75 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt

Chantilly Cream: (optional)

3/4 cup (180 grams) cold heavy whipping cream (cream with a 35-40% butterfat content)

1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pure vanilla extract

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