Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, no presents to wrap, just a delicious meal in the middle of a weekday afternoon. You may think it strange for a British woman to be suggesting possible Thanksgiving desserts. After all it’s not a Holiday celebrated in the UK, but I like to think of myself as a modern day Pilgrim. I may have boarded a 747 at Heathrow instead of the Mayflower but essentially we were all after the same thing, making a new life in the New World.
When it comes to pumpkin pie however, I would like to suggest a variation on the theme. After a heavy meal a pie with lots of pastry can almost push one over the culinary edge. Here’s a lighter option, a delicious pumpkin tart with a gently spiced graham cracker crust and a melt-in-your mouth creamy topping. No pastry to contend with and full of the wonderful flavors of Thanksgiving.
This dessert can be made in advance, so it helps in the vain, yet unrelenting battle to stay one step ahead of the clock. Make the crust up to two days in advance and when you find a window of about 30 minutes, whisk up the filling. Pour it into the tart shell and spirit it away to the fridge to chill. The topping can be spread, or piped, over the top when convenient. Sprinkle over a touch of orange zest and a few glistening pieces of crystallized ginger.
Pumpkin Tart with Crystallized Ginger.
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
4 tablespoons melted butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
4 large egg yolks
¾ cup heavy cream
1, 15oz can pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
Juice of half an orange
Zest of an orange
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream
To make the crust.
Heat the oven to 350F
Melt the butter and set aside.
Place the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and spices into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and stir until fully mixed together.
Press the mixture into an 11 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until lightly golden.
Set aside to cool thoroughly.
To make the filling:
Place the eggs and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and beat on high speed with the whisk attachment until the mixture is thick. When you lift up the whisk the mixture it should leave thick ribbon behind it.
Meanwhile combine the pumpkin, cream, spices, orange juice, zest and cornstarch. Pour into a medium sized saucepan and heat over a gentle flame until scalding point.
Remove and very slowly and carefully pour the mixture into the egg/sugar mixture with the whisk on medium speed.
When incorporated pour the mixture back into the saucepan and put back on a low heat.
Stir constantly until the mixture thickens. This takes patience! Just when you’re quite convinced it will never thicken the magic will happen and the cornstarch will do its job. You will be left with a beautiful, smooth pudding like consistency.
Pour into the cooled tart shell and place in the refrigerator to set, about 4 hours (overnight is perfect).
To make the topping
Whip the cream, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract to stiff peaks. Stir in the sour cream.
Either pipe or spread the topping onto the tart and add the orange zest and crystallized ginger as desired.