Pumpkin is usually not my favorite flavor – probably because is not chocolate. Recently, however, Cúpla Sister and I were talking about the pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust I used to make and I got a craving for the taste. Also, I’ve been eager to use my sweet $1 pumpkin-shaped dish purchased from Girlfriends. You can find their collectibles and antiques shop located in an old country school house near Vinton, Iowa.
An almost forgotten box of pumpkin bar mix was buried at the back of my pantry. Yeah, a snap to make and no need to go shopping for ingredients! I used muffin cups rather than the 8″ x 8″ pan suggested on the box because the tarts plated perfectly in my “new” pumpkin-shaped dish.
If you decide to bake in muffin cups rather than a square pan, bake the crust for 5 minutes as directed on the box, but reduce the second baking time from 25 minutes to 18 minutes. Once the muffin pan cools slightly, run a sharp knife around the outside of the tarts, and they should easily slipped out of the cups.
To achieve a more cheesecake-like taste, try topping the pumpkin tarts with a cream cheese frosting. Here is the recipe I devised. It is not too sweet, keeps its shape when piped, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese
- 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- a dash of salt
Once these ingredients are incorporated, set the cream cheese mixture aside and whip ½ pint of heavy cream until it holds a firm shape. Watch it carefully and stop whipping as soon as this happens. If whipped too long, you will have a lovely bowl of white butter instead of whipped cream.
Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture. Beat until the two mixtures are combined-approximately 15 seconds. Do not over-beat. Refrigerate until the pumpkin tarts are completely cooled.
Place a large star-shaped tip on the end of a pastry bag and spoon the cream cheese/whipped cream mixture into the pastry bag. While squeezing the pastry bag, move around the outside of the pumpkin tart and swirl toward the center. An even easier version would be to swirl already prepared aerosol whipping cream right before serving. You may wish to garnish the top with sprinkles of nutmeg, glazed pecans, or sugar crystals.
These pumpkin tarts store well in the refrigerator if sealed in an airtight container.