Pumpkin Custard Tart
This creamy tart is the perfect finale to a holiday meal. Dates are the surprise ingredient, adding an exotic sweetness to the tart and complementing the flavor of the pumpkin.
Makes one (9 1/2”) tart, 6 to 8 servings
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups canned or fresh pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups dried dates, halved
- Prepare Dough in Advance: In a small bowl, stir together the water, egg yolks, and vanilla. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar and salt. With a paddle attachment at low speed, mix the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the egg mixture and mix just until the dough begins to hold together. (Do not over mix. The dough will begin to stick to the mixer paddle. It will look crumbly but feel moist.)
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather gently into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a 9 1/2” by 1 3/8” flan ring on the prepared sheet. Line the flan ring with pastry as directed (see “Lining a Pan with Pastry,” below). Bake according to directions for a partially baked crust (see “Baking the Pastry Shell,” below). Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF.
- Prepare Filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, and brown sugar. Add the corn syrup and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the cream, pumpkin puree, and rum. Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
- Arrange the dates, cut-side down, in concentric circles over the bottom of the tart crust. Pour the pumpkin custard over the dates. Place the baking sheet on the center oven rack. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the custard is just set (it should jiggle slightly in the center). Cool the tart on a wire rack 20 minutes. Remove the flan ring. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Lining a Pan with Pastry
- Place the pastry on a cool, lightly floured surface. Sprinkle the pastry lightly with flour. For a single pastry shell, roll the dough into a circle 1 1/2 inch to 2" larger than the diameter of the pan you are using (3" to 3 1/2" larger for an 8 1/2" X 2" tart pan). Lift the pastry and turn it counterclockwise while rolling, to ensure even rolling and shaping as well as to prevent sticking.
- Once the proper diameter is reached, the pastry should be 1/8" to 1/4" thick. Cut circles of pastry 1 1/2" larger than the diameter of the pans. Re-roll the scraps and cut more circles if necessary.
- Fold the pastry circle in half; place it halfway over the pan. Unfold the pastry. Lift the edge of the pastry over toward the center while pressing the pastry into the corners of the pan. Continue around the entire diameter of the pan. Press the pastry up the sides of the pan, creasing the excess pastry over the edge of the pan. Rest a rolling pin on top of the pan and roll across to cut away the excess pastry. Gently press the pastry against the side of the pan. Refrigerate the pastry shell at least 1 hour or overnight.
Baking the Pastry Shell
- Preheat the oven as directed. Tear a piece of foil or parchment paper slightly larger than the tart or quiche pan (or use a large coffee filter). Gently press the foil or parchment into the pastry shell, turning back the edges of the foil or parchment to cover the edge of the pastry. Fill the shell halfway with pie weights or dried beans. Place the shell on a baking tray Place the tray on the center oven rack. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until the sides of the pastry are just set, but have not colored.
- Carefully remove the foil and pie weights. For a partially baked crust, bake 8 to 10 minutes more for a single crust (3 to 5 minutes for individual crusts) or until the bottom of the pastry is just set. For a fully baked crust, bake 15 to 20 minutes more, or until the crust is light golden brown. Cool the crust completely on a wire rack.
You don't have to be a master baker like Metropolitan's James Barrett to make delicious French-inspired delights at home. Here are several favorites—some savory, some sweet—adapted by James for the home chef.