Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pumpkin Tart with Anise Seed Crust

Thanksgiving did not turn out the way I had planned this year.  Thanksgiving day, we got together with my husband's family, and had a lovely time.  It was a large gathering so we did it potluck; I made mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and cornbread stuffing.  We had Thanksgiving with my side of the family scheduled for Sunday afternoon.  I was planning on making two desserts - my Dad requested apple and pumpkin pies.  Then I realized:  I only have one pie plate!  That's okay, I thought, I have a tart tin - I can make an apple pie and a pumpkin tart!  I searched the web, found a fantastic-sounding recipe for a pumpkin tart with an anise seed crust, and got to it.  I roasted my pumpkin in the oven, mixed and refrigerated the dough for the crust, and then ...

Disaster struck.  I got the stomach flu.  My husband was a saint and took the kids to my Dad's house while I stayed home in bed.  I completely missed out on Thanksgiving with my family.  Ugh.

When I recovered a few days later, I realized two things:  I still had the ingredients to make the tart, and unless I wanted to freeze them and make it later, I should do it now; and I was really craving pumpkin pie, since I missed it with my family.  (I had a little nibble of the pie at my in-laws' Thanksgiving, but it was pumpkin mousse cheesecake from Coco's.  Tasty, but too little, and not traditional enough.)  So I made the tart, one week after Thanksgiving - and it was worth the wait!

The anise seeds in the crust may not seem like a huge diversion from a regular pumpkin tart, but just that one extra ingredient had a huge impact!  The crust was like an Italian cookie - it made me want to call my friend Mr. Daddario and have him break out the pizelle iron!  The pumpkin filling is simple and creamy, and with the addition of whipped cream (or Cool Whip, if that's how you roll), you have a perfect, off-beat holiday dessert!
Thanks to Jean for the idea of little crust decorations!

Pumpkin Tart with Anise Seed Crust
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet)

For the crust:

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon anise seeds
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons ice water
For the pumpkin filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin (either canned or fresh roasted)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  1. Make the crust:  In the bowl of a food processor, blend together the flour, sugar, salt, and anise seeds.  Add in the butter cubes and pulse until coarse crumbs form.  Mix together the egg yolk and 1 1/2 teaspoons ice water and pulse until dough forms.  Squeeze together a small handful of dough - if it doesn't stick together, add in the last 1/2 teaspoon water.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Gather into a disc and refrigerate for an hour.  (You can do this a day ahead of time and refrigerate the dough overnight.)
  3.  Roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch and press into tart tin (or you could just use a pie plate, I'm sure it'd work fine.)  If you have any left over scraps of dough, don't throw them away!  I cut out little stars with a cookie cutter and baked them separately on a cookie sheet.  They looked super cute on top of the tart, and are tasty too!
  4. Prick crust with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line the crust with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 15 minutes.  Then remove foil and beans and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven but leave the oven turned on.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together all the pumpkin filling ingredients, in order.  Pour filling into crust and bake until puffy and almost set, about 45 minutes.  (If you have too much filling, pour it into ramekins or a casserole dish and bake.  Voila, pumpkin pudding!)  Remove from oven and chill at least 2 hours.  Serve with whipped cream and cute crust stars!

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