Pumpkin Pie is definitely one of my favorite desserts. It’s a beloved classic that my family and I share a fondness for- so much so that I make it all throughout the year and not just on Thanksgiving. I mean, who said we can only eat it in November? I’ve developed a great recipe for pumpkin pie which is pretty much a fusion of several recipes I’ve borrowed from. However, I’m always looking for a new way to spice up the classic and bring something new to the table (literally!). It’s then that I found this recipe for a Pumpkin Caramel Tart from Alison Roman. This goes back to her time at BA, and gives us the promise of an elevated pumpkin dessert for your Thanksgiving feast. I hoped that the Cocoa Banana Bread a few weeks back was just a fluke, because Alison has a great following and is known for some tasty dishes. So I wanted to try this out and see if it’s rich in both style and substance.
The recipe starts off with a press-in crust which is a great idea for anyone not wanting to fuss with homemade pastry. As usual, I substituted the hazelnuts for pecans as I can never seem to find them in stores. Pecan and pumpkin tend to be crowd favorites at the Thanksgiving dinner table, so I figured they would pair well. If you’re ever working with nuts, please toast them. A few minutes in a hot oven really brings out the nutty, almost toffee like flavors from the pecans and instantly adds additional flavor that you wouldn’t get otherwise. The nuts are then pulsed together with flour, sugar, salt, and later butter until it forms the consistency of wet sand, with the butter in small, pea-like sizes. Water is then added to get the dough to come together, before it’s pressed into the bottom and sides of a springform pan. The crust is then baked for about 20 minutes until slightly golden, then made to cool. Probably the most daunting part of this part is the caramel. I’ve made caramel dozens of times and believe me, every now and then, I run into a batch that crystallizes, leaving me with nothing but weird sugar and disappointment. I ended up doubling the water that Alison states to give myself the best outcome and it ended up coming together great. My caramel hit that deep amber color before I added the cream and let it cool. The pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and grated ginger are mixed together until smooth. I caution your use of ginger as it can easily go from flavorful to overpowering. Start off with about half the recipe amount and continue to add more to your taste- it’s really the little kick the filling needs. The caramel is them mixed before it fills up the pan and is baked for about 35 minutes.
After making this, there are a few changes I’d make to really suit my (and hopefully your) palette. My filling had just a tad too much ginger which really upped the overall spiciness to the point of it nearly overpowering the flavors. I’d scale back just a bit so the caramel and pumpkin can still shine. In terms of flavor, the filling and crust go well together with great balance between the near savoriness of the crust and the sweetness from the caramel. I also decided to forgo Alison’s caramelized nut topping because I really didn’t feel like making another batch of caramel just for a handful of nuts. The topping also wouldn’t keep well in the fridge, resulting in some wet and sticky nuts that aren’t great for make ahead preparations. I ended up going with a lightly sweetened whip cream because really, all pumpkin pies need whipped cream. The recipe also implies that it be eaten at room temperature, but frankly it’s better cold. A few hours in the fridge allows that filling and crust to firm up, so you can get nice, clean slices. I wouldn’t cast the recipe aside because of the reasons listed, in fact, I can see myself making this again- just with those changes. Recipes are guides, and so at the end of the day, each recipe should be tailored to suit your tastes. If you’re in the market for an elevated pumpkin pie, look no further than this tart.
Full Recipe | Method by Alison Roman formerly of Bon Appetit