Caramel Pumpkin Tart with Gingersnap Crust
dessert, fall, pies and tarts, vegetarian, winter

Caramel Pumpkin Tart with a Gingersnap Crust

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I have a confession to make. I don’t love pumpkin pie.

I mean, it’s not bad, exactly. I don’t hate it. But it rarely lives up to what I want a special occasion dessert to be.

At Thanksgiving, when dessert rolls around, I’m more likely to go for the apple pie, or, if I’m really lucky, the cranberry curd tart than the traditional pumpkin pie.

Sugar, mascarpone, and heavy cream in bowls

The crust tends to be pale and damp, the filling dense and ever so slightly fibrous and grainy, the flavor a little flat.

But still, I like pumpkin’s flavor (I love it in this pumpkin cake). And I believed that it had potential to be something special in the pie-and-tart category. So I set out to make a version of pumpkin pie I could really love.

And I think, with this caramel pumpkin tart, I’ve found it.

Gingersnap Tart Crust

The first trick was swapping out the traditional pie crust for a simple press-in gingersnap crust.

I find that cookie crumb crusts tend to work better in tart pans with removable bottoms than in pie pans, so I swapped pans to shift from pie to tart.

The gingersnap crust brings extra gingery heat to the crust, which helps to balance the sweetness of the pumpkin filling.

Pumpkin puree, dark brown sugar, ground ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and three eggs in bowls

For the pumpkin part, I kept the pumpkin puree and the general traditional pumpkin spice profile, but I added some orange zest to brighten things up and some dark brown sugar for a hint of molasses-y bitterness.

Then, instead of turning to a can of sweetened condensed milk, I opted to make a caramel sauce enriched with a bit of heavy cream and a generous amount of mascarpone.

The mascarpone is subtle here, but it’s very gentle tang helps to balance the sweetness of the caramel so it doesn’t overwhelm the tart.

The caramel makes the whole thing taste fuller and rounder and, paradoxically, lighter than a traditional pumpkin pie filling.

Pouring caramel into the pumpkin mixture

The pumpkin puree gets mixed with spices and eggs, and then the caramel sauce gets mixed in with the pumpkin.

And then, the secret to a smooth custard tart: the mixture gets strained through a fine mesh sieve. This will remove any stray fibrous bits from the pumpkin puree, any stringy egg bits (aka chalazae), and any small bits of mascarpone that didn’t fully melt into the caramel.

It’s a small step that makes a big difference in the final texture.

Caramel pumpkin mixture next to a gingersnap tart crust

Then the caramel pumpkin mixture gets poured into the prepared gingersnap tart crust, where it gets precariously close to overflowing. But don’t worry, it will all, just barely, fit.

Getting it into the oven requires steady hands and a good sense of balance. If you have someone nearby who can open the oven door for you, by all means, enlist their help. (And it’s not the end of the world if a little bit of the filling sloshes of the edge.)

But once the tart is in the oven, the hard work is done.

Caramel Pumpkin Tart before going into the oven

You’ll want to let it bake until the custard is just set. The edges will puff up a little and the center will wiggle but not slosh when you bump the pan.

The tart will be a little higher around the edges than in the center, which makes a perfect area for adding some whipped cream.

The whipped cream is optional, but nice.

Caramel Pumpkin Tart with Gingersnap Crust, topped with whipped cream

The airiness of the whipped cream plays nicely with the light texture of the caramel pumpkin filling. And the gingersnap crust helps to make for a spicy finish.

It’s not quite a traditional pumpkin pie, but this caramel pumpkin tart is something special, and it might find a new place in your family traditions.

I hope you love it.

Caramel Pumpkin Tart overhead shot
Yield: 1 9.5-inch tart

Caramel Pumpkin Tart with Gingersnap Crust

Caramel Pumpkin Tart with Gingersnap Crust

This caramel pumpkin tart is a spin on a traditional pumpkin pie. The caramel makes the flavor fuller and the texture lighter than the traditional version.

Don't be afraid of making caramel. Just keep an eye on it once you get started and be swift and decisive when it's time to remove it from the heat.

Don't be tempted to skip the step of straining the filling. It's essential to the lush, smooth texture of the filling.

I like to serve it with whipped cream.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 gingersnap tart crust, baked and cooled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
  • 1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and place your baked gingersnap tart crust on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Make the caramel. Add granulated sugar and water to a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and cook (without stirring) until the caramel turns a deep amber color, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the cream until combined, then add the mascarpone and whisk again, until smooth. (If the caramel seizes up when you add the cream or mascarpone, don't panic, you can heat it gently over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves again.) Stir in the vanilla extract and salt and set aside.
  3. Add the pumpkin puree to a large mixing bowl and stir in the brown sugar. Zest half an orange over the bowl. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice and stir until combined.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the pumpkin mixture stirring between each one to mix well.
  5. Pour the caramel sauce into the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into another mixing bowl (ideally one with a pour spout).
  6. Carefully pour the strained mixture into your prepared tart shell. It will be filled nearly to the brim.
  7. With your steadiest hands, transfer the baking sheet to the oven. (Don't worry if a little bit of the filling sloshes over the edge.) And bake until the filling is puffed up and set around the edges and the center has a very slight wiggle, about 45-50 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan before removing the outer tart ring. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Notes

Tart can be made a day ahead of time and stored covered in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 520 Total Fat: 35g Saturated Fat: 21g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 169mg Sodium: 498mg Carbohydrates: 47g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 41g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 6g

5 Comments

  • Wow, I am loving the sound of these ingredients! The ginger snap crust, the marscapone, it all sounds delicious and so tasty!! It is a great looking tart, cheers!

    Reply
  • Looks super yummy! Perfect for thanksgiving! Can’t wait to makr this.

    Reply
  • I was already intrigued by the words caramel pumpkin tart and it sounds delicious but that ginger snap crust makes it sound even more divine! Definitely got to give this a try!

    Reply
  • Caramel pumpkin tart with gingersnap crust?!!?! Where have you been all my life! I can’t wait to try this and I bet it is fab, after all, it has some of my favorite flavors in it!

    Reply
  • I’m with you, not a big fan of pumpkin pie. But this tart looks like a delicious alternative. Can’t wait to try it.

    Reply

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