Pumpkin cheese tart recipe, just in time for Thanksgiving feats | VailDaily.com

Pumpkin cheese tart recipe, just in time for Thanksgiving feats

Vera Dawson
High Country Baking

Halfway between a pumpkin pie and a cheesecake — that's how I describe this tart. It's similar to the time-honored pie, but lighter in taste and texture. The dish is smooth and airy, similar to a light cheesecake, but not as rich. It's a great choice for our November feast day, when most of us are stuffed after the main course, as it's less substantial than the traditional desserts but just as pleasing.

Be sure to bring the cream cheese to room temperature before you start the filling and plan ahead because the tart must be chilled for at least 12 hours and up to two days.

Make the crust

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the center position. Lightly grease your tart or pie pan and set it aside. Break up the graham crackers, place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until crumbs form. Measure the crumbs — you want 1 and 1/4 cups. If necessary, create more crumbs to make this amount. Return crumbs to the processor, with the pecans and sugar, and process until the nuts are finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse until the mixture is moist and holds together when you press it between your fingers.

2. Pour the mixture into your pan. Press it into the sides, making a rim about quarter-inch thick. Press the remaining mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. If you use a tart pan with one inch or lower sides, you may not need all of the mixture. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's set and aromatic, and then remove it to a cooling rack to cool completely.

3. Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. (Scrape the bowl several times during this step.) Beat the cream cheese and sour cream in a medium bowl until fully blended and smooth. Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating again until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until each is blended into the mixture. Remove ½- cup of the mixture and set it aside.

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Make the filling

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (scrape the bowl several times during this step). Beat the cream cheese and sour cream in a medium bowl until fully blended and smooth. Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating again until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until each is blended into the mixture. Remove half-cup of the mixture and set it aside.

2. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and cloves to the larger amount of the cheese mixture (in the medium bowl, not the half-cup) and stir until fully blended. Spread it in the cooled crust, filling to just below the rim (it puffs while it bakes, so don't fill it to the top). You may not use it all, depending on the depth of your pan. Smooth and level it. Drop little mounds of the reserved half-cup of cheese mixture over the pumpkin filling, leaving spaces between them. Swirl the mounds into a pretty pattern with the tip of a knife. Place the filled tart/pie on a cookie sheet (for ease in moving it in and out of the oven) Bake the tart until it is puffed and firm (check in the center), about 23 to 30 minutes depending on the depth of your pan.

3. Cool the tart completely on a rack (it will deflate as it cools) and then refrigerate it. Once it's cold, cover it with foil and continue to refrigerate it for at least twelve hours and up to two days. Keep the tart refrigerated and serve it cold, right out of the refrigerator. Slice it with a thin, sharp-bladed knife, cleaning the blade after each cut.

Make the whipped cream

Chill a bowl and the beaters of your mixer in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. Up to an hour before cutting and serving, add the cream, sugar and vanilla to the chilled bowl and beat with the chilled beaters until stiff peaks form. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a small star tip and pipe a rim of rosettes around the edge of the tart's crust.

Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbooks Baking Above It All and Cookies in the Clouds, (available at The Bookworm of Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco), is a high-altitude baking teacher. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.

Crust

1 and 1/4 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (8 large Nabisco crackers, not yet broken into sections).

1/3 cup pecans.

2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar.

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted.

Filling

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature.

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream, regular or light.

1/2 cup superfine granulated sugar.

2 large eggs, room temperature.

1 cup packed canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling).

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.

Whipped Cream, optional

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream.

1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar.

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.