Crème Fraîche Pumpkin Tart with Pecan-Ginger Shortbread Crust

Pumpkin Tart_v2

I must confess, I enjoy tarts better than pies as the ratio of crust to filling is more balanced.  And, since I can never leave well enough alone with any recipe, I switched up Mom’s pumpkin pie recipe by replacing the evaporated milk with home-made crème fraîche.

If you whip up the crème fraîche tomorrow, you will still have time to make this delicious tart by Thanksgiving.

1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin purée
3/4 cup (about 5.3 ounces) firmly packed light-brown sugar
8 ounces crème fraîche*, reserve the remaining to use as a topping or for another use.
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
10-inch tart shell**

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée, brown sugar, crème fraîche, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves until smooth.  Pour filling into prepared crust.

Bake until filling is set, about 40 – 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool at least 30 minutes.  Refrigerate until well set, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Crème Fraîche
1 pint heavy cream, pasteurized but not ultra-pasteurized
1 or 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Combine the cream and buttermilk in a saucepan and heat to no more than 85°F on an instant reading thermometer.  Pour into a clean glass or non-reactive bowl.  Partially cover with a clean dishtowel and let stand at room temperature (between 65 and 75 degrees) for 8 to 24 hours, or until thickened.

Ginger-Pecan Shortbread Crust**
1/2 cup (2 ounces) pecans
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (3/4 ounces) powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup (4 ounces) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus more for buttering pan
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place pecans in an ovenproof pan and cook for about 15 minutes or until toasted and fragrant.  Remove from oven and transfer to a shallow bowl or plate to cool.

While the pecans are toasting, butter a 10-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.  Line bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Combine cooled pecans and granulated sugar in food processor; using the metal “S” blade finely grind nuts.  Add flour, powdered sugar, and salt and blend for an additional 5 seconds or so.  Add butter and pulse using on/off turns, until coarse meal forms.  Add beaten egg and blend until moist clumps form, about 30 seconds.

Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Pierce bottom all over with fork. Freeze crust at least 1 hour, if wanting to freeze for more than an hour, removed from freezer and wrap tightly with aluminum foil.  Return to freezer for up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake crust uncovered until deep golden brown, checking often and pressing sides and bottom with back of fork during first 15 minutes when crust puffs or bubbles, about 20 minutes total. Cool completely.

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