As much as I love a good pumpkin pie, when my wife requested a “pumpkin dessert” to serve at a dinner party we had last weekend, I found myself fishing about for something that was a twist on the traditional. I found this deeply flavorful and quite beautiful tart in Bon Appetit’s November 2015 issue, and just from the picture in the magazine knew we were in for a treat. The secret to this little number is the caramel you make as part of the filling. It adds such a great depth and complexity to the confection, that I’m quite certain my next slice of standard issue pumpkin pie will taste meh by comparison. As always when making caramel, taking care to let it cook until its the color of an Irish Setter dog and is just whisping smoke, will be the difference between a good and GREAT result. Pulling the caramel from the heat while still too pale will produce a filling with much less depth of flavor. Trust me on this. Take it a little further than feels totally comfortable, and you’ll be amply rewarded with a richly flavored result.
The recipe cooks up beautifully as written with two exceptions. First, with the crust I found that adding the 3 Tbs of ice water to the dough all at once was a mistake as it made my dough MUCH too wet to press up the sides of the pan to form an outside wall to my crust. Instead, I pressed the wet, pasty dough into a flat disc at the bottom of the springform pan and it cooked up more cake-like rather than a crisp tart crust. In the end, we all still liked it so there was no real harm, but the next time I make this I’ll add the water 1 Tbs at a time just until the dough comes together so I can enjoy the tart as intended. The second issue concerned the cooking time, as my tart took a whole 10 minutes longer than the longest time stated in the recipe for the filling to cook to a perfect jiggly center. Aside from that I don’t think I’d change a thing. Served with a dollop of pillowy whipped cream, and with the candied crunch of the hazelnuts for contrast, this was one seriously satisfying tart!
Cheers – Steve
- 1 1/4 cups skin-on hazelnuts
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup canned pumpkin purée
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- Whipped cream (for serving)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes; let cool. Using a kitchen towel, rub hazelnuts together to remove most of the skins (don't worry about some stubborn bits remaining).
- Pulse flour, sugar, salt, and 3/4 cup hazelnuts in a food processor until the consistency of coarse meal. Reserve remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts for filling. Add butter to dry ingredients and pulse until there are only a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
- Transfer mixture to a large bowl; drizzle 3 Tbsp. ice water over and mix, adding another splash or so of water if needed, just to bring dough together.
- Using your fingers, press dough evenly 1 1/2"–2" up the sides and then into the bottom of pan; compact and smooth with a flat, straight-sided measuring cup or glass. Chill 20 minutes.
- Bake crust until golden but not totally baked through, 15–20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.
Filling & Assembly:
- Meanwhile, bring cream of tartar, 1 cup granulated sugar, and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to mediumhigh and cook, swirling pan occasionally (do not stir), until caramel is a deep amber color, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisking constantly, carefully add cream (mixture will be extremely hot and will bubble vigorously); whisk until smooth. Let caramel cool slightly in pot.
- Whisk pumpkin purée, brown sugar, flour, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Gradually add caramel and eggs, whisking until well blended. Scrape filling into prepared crust.
- Bake tart, rotating halfway through, until filling is set around edges and center barely jiggles, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in pan.
- Meanwhile, coarsely chop reserved 1/2 cup hazelnuts and cook in a small skillet over medium heat with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp. water, stirring constantly, until sugar caramelizes and evenly coats hazelnuts. Transfer caramelized hazelnuts to a sheet of parchment paper and let cool completely. Coarsely chop. Scatter caramelized hazelnuts over tart and serve with whipped cream.