Don’t try to tell me it’s the wrong time for pumpkin. Rarely, if ever, is it the wrong time for pumpkin. Or pie. Or tarts. And never, ever, ever is it the wrong time for Chef Michael Smith. And his latest cookbook, Back to Basics, with his smiling, slightly greying, handsome mug on the front cover, a succulent pan of roasted deliciousness in his hand? Well, there’s always time for that ladies.
See what I mean? This book was sent to me late last fall to review. My neighbour, however, snatched it up and ‘forgot’ to return it for a while. Sure, sure. I know that when my copy was returned, there were a number of dog-eared pages, showing obvious signs of use But you can’t tell me she didn’t spend any time with the cover facing up, if you know what I mean.
The recipes in this cookbook run the gamut from salads to seafood, chicken to cookies. But they all have a common thread: they are packed full of flavour and can be served at any family table. Chef Michael’s ‘free style cooking’ approach leads to footnotes about changes you can make to a recipe to personalize and tailor it to your own family’s tastes. I have made more than just this tart recipe – because as much as I’d like to, one cannot live on dessert alone. I modified the Ancho Chili Mac ‘n Cheese recipe and every single one of my children absolutely inhaled it. So fast that I didn’t get any pictures. I will be making it again and guarding the pot until I get some photos.
The pumpkin mixture for these tarts is considerably sweeter and and more strongly spiced than for a traditional pumpkin pie. Because you are only getting a small bite, however, it needs to have maximum flavour impact. I had some filling left over and ended up baking it in a custard dish. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it – the result is too sweet in that quantity. I would also recommend either reducing the amount of topping you make for the tarts, going very heavy on the amount you use on each tart, or bank on having extra left over to keep in the freezer. It would make a perfect pumpkin bread topping.
- 24 tart shells - homemade or unbaked store bought
- 28 oz./796 mL can pumpkin puree
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tbsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- Crumble Topping
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 450 F, with convection if available
- Combine all ingredients for filling and whisk or use a hand blender until smooth. Evenly divide the filling between the tart shells
- In a separate bowl, toss together flour, pumpkin seeds, and brown sugar.
- Drizzle with melted butter and work the mixture together until a crumbly mixture forms.
- Carefully place approximately 1 tablespoon on top of each tart.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until pastry is golden