I had been toying with the idea of making some sort of mini pumpkin pies since the start of fall, but I know that all the pumpkin treats can get overwhelming -- especially in the food blog world -- at this time of year, so I also wanted to find a way to make something a little different. Since I love combining pumpkin with chocolate, I thought I'd start there.
I came up with the idea to make a chocolate crust in my mini tartlet pans for the base of my pumpkin dessert, and then I concentrated on the filling. I knew I could just make some pumpkin pie filling and pour it in the chocolate shells, but that didn't seem super-exciting to me. While I was looking up another recipe one day, I came across a recipe for pumpkin pastry cream in Sugar Baby and knew I had found my filling. A little grated chocolate on top, and I had the perfect chocolate-pumpkin treat.
When Hilary from bakingbad.com invited me to participate in her Virtual Fall Feast, I thought these chocolate-pumpkin tartlets would be a fitting contribution.
Makes 50 to 75 tartlets
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Pumpkin Pastry Cream (adapted from Sugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & Other Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Sugar)
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Chocolate Sable Dough (adapted from The Craft of Baking: Cakes, Cookies, and Other Sweets with Ideas for Inventing Your Own)
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Small block of bittersweet chocolate
To make the pumpkin pastry cream, in a heavy saucepan, combine milk and 1 cup heavy cream. Place over medium heat, and bring mixture to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, combine egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.
Decrease speed to medium, and pour hot milk mixture down side of bowl. Once milk mixture is completely incorporated, increase mixer speed and let run for 1 minute.
Wash out the saucepan.
Scrape down sides of bowl to make sure everything is incorporated and pour contents into clean saucepan.
Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl.
Transfer the saucepan to the stove, and whisk constantly over medium-high heat for about 4 to 5 minutes, until pastry cream has thickened.
Pour the pastry cream into the sieve and use a rubber spatula to push it through.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream, and refrigerate until cool (or up to 2 days).
Once pastry cream is chilled and ready to use, whip remaining 1 cup heavy cream to stiff peaks in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Transfer to small bowl, and set aside. Wash stand mixer bowl.
Place the chilled pastry cream in clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, and add in the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth and creamy.
Fold in the whipped heavy cream. Chill until ready to use.
To make the crust, in a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on low speed until butter is completely incorporated, about 3 minutes. Add egg and mix until incorporated.
Add flour mixture in three additions, incorporating each addition completely.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured countertop, divide in half, and form into disks.
Wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. (At this point, you can double-wrap the disks and store them in the freezer. Place them in the fridge to thaw the night before you intend to use them.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Set 25 tartlet pans on a rimmed baking sheet, and place another rimmed baking sheet alongside the first one.
Remove one dough disk from fridge, and unwrap.
Roll dough out on lightly floured counter to about 1/8-inch thick.
Take a small scrap of dough and wad it up into a ball. Lightly flour the ball and use the dough ball to push the dough down into each tartlet pan.
Roll your rolling pin gently and carefully over the tartlet pans to help them break through the dough.
Lift the tartlet pans out of the dough scraps, and gently press the dough down to line the pans with your thumb. Place the pans on the clean baking sheet.
Prick the tarts all over with a small fork.
Gather the scraps together, wrap them, and refrigerate them.
Bake the tartlets for 9 to 10 minutes, rotating halfway through. While the color won't clue you in to whether the tartlets are baked, you'll be able to smell the chocolate and the tartlets will look dry on the surface.
Transfer to a rack to cool. Once the tartlets are cool enough to handle, carefully slide them out of the pans and set them on a cooling rack.
Repeat the process of rolling out the dough, filling the tartlet pans, and baking the tartlets with the second disk of dough.
Gather those dough scraps and combine them with the other dough scraps. At this point you can double-wrap the scraps and freeze them to use for a future recipe, or you can continue making more tartlets with the remaining dough once it has re-firmed up in the refrigerator. (I just made 50 tartlets.)
Pipe (or spoon) the pumpkin pastry cream into the cooled tartlet shells. (You'll have some leftover.)
Using a Microplane or rasp-style grater, grate the chocolate over the tartlets to garnish. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Note: I had never made pastry cream using the method in Sugar Baby -- usually it involves some tempering -- and I found it much easier to just throw everything in the mixer. When whisking the mixture on the stove, it may take a while to notice any thickness, but the pastry cream will just turn all at once, and you'll notice it coming together under the foamy surface. Remove the pan from the heat at that time. I had some leftover pumpkin pastry cream, and I'm thinking of some other fun uses for it.
I was so happy with the way these tartlets turned out. The pumpkin pastry cream is nicely spiced and has a smooth, yet thick consistency and pairs well with the rich, chocolaty shells and bittersweet chocolate garnish. They're a nice, sweet ending to a fall feast.
Head over to Hilary's blog to check out the rest of the Virtual Fall Feast contributions!
What would you make for a fall feast?