October 08, 2011

Thanksgiving Week Day 7 - Mini Pumpkin Tarts

mini pumpkin tartsI had a bit of a dilemma about what type of dessert to share for the last day of Thanksgiving Week. I really wanted to create a big show-stopping dessert that would impress the pants off your guests. But then I realized that after a huge feast, most of your guests will already be bursting out of their pants anyway, and revealing a big dessert at the end of the meal could elicit more groans than cheers. So I decided to think realistically and choose a dessert that is small and light, that guests can easily indulge in or pass on depending on how they're feeling, and most importantly, that doesn't require a ton of work on the cook's part.

These mini pumpkin tarts were the perfect solution - they're basically a pumpkin pie in miniature form. So for those who love pumpkin pie but can't bear the thought of eating a whole slice after finishing the big meal, they can still get their pumpkin pie dose in an adorable little two-bite form! And for the cook who doesn't have time to plan a big dessert, these are really easy - the cream cheese dough can be whipped together by hand, the topping and filling each take about a minute to make, then you just fill up your mini muffin pan and bake!

The original recipe even provides directions for mixing up the different components the day before, which makes assembling them on the day of the meal even easier. They also store well in the fridge so you could even make everything the day before, then just take the tarts out of the fridge to bring to room temperature before serving them.

The dough for this recipe is really easy to work with, just be sure you don't make it too thick so that you can fit lots of the delicious pumpkin filling into each tart! The topping added a nice sugary crunch on top, but you could easily leave it off if you want to be able to see the pumpkin filling underneath. A finishing touch of whipped cream on top would make these even more adorable than they already are!

If you're looking for something a little different for your Thanksgiving dessert, try out this vegan coconut sweet potato pie from Vanilla & Spice for her Thanksgiving Week Day 7 recipe.

mini pumpkin tarts
Mini Pumpkin Tarts

Adapted from Land O Lakes

Makes 36 mini-muffin sized tarts

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups canned pure pumpkin (*not pumpkin pie filling)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Whipped cream, if desired


Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

To make the crust, combine 3/4 cup butter and the cream cheese in a medium bowl. Mix together until well combined (either with an electric mixer on medium speed or with a whisk). Add the flour in three additions, mixing after each addition until a smooth dough forms. Divide dough into 36 pieces and flatten each piece into a thin circle. Place each circle of dough into an ungreased mini muffin pan cup. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of the cups. Make sure dough is not too thick.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour about 1 tablespoon of filling into each unbaked tart shell. Sprinkle each tart with about 1 teaspoon of the topping mixture.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until golden brown and set. Cool 5 minutes in pans, then run a small sharp knife around the edge of the cups to loosen them. They should pop out of the pan easily. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream if desired. Store refrigerated.
mini pumpkin tartsFor other Thanksgiving dessert ideas, check out these links:

Pumpkin pie bars from Framed
Pumpkin pie layer cake from Cooking Light
Glazed pumpkin pound cake from Never Enough Thyme
Double layer pumpkin cheesecake from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Sweet potato buttermilk pie from The Novice Chef
Cranberry pecan pumpkin tart from Good Life Eats
Easy apple tart from The Hungry Housewife
Thanksgiving twofer pie by Dorie Greenspan

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