When Autumn rolls around, I love going bloody bonkers for all the pumpkin-y things for like four weeks straight! I indulge in homemade pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin waffles (I made some with my friend Natalie check out her site for photo evidence ;)), pumpkin scones and some pumpkin even sneaked into my morning smoothie which was absolutely delicious!
This year I opted for a pumpkin chiffon tart for Canadian Thanksgiving instead of the traditional pumpkin pie. I made a hybrid oats & gingersnap crust because I wanted the oats for healthier bulk and the gingersnap for the flavor and crispness needed to balance the pillowy filling. I really enjoyed this lighter version, so much so, I may go chiffon every year forward! Add to that a dollop of maple whipped cream and toasted pecans...you'll be happy you wore stretchy pants for Thanksgiving. And by you, I really mean me!
In certain pumpkin treats, you can most certainly do with canned pumpkin puree, no problem. But in a pumpkin tart where the pumpkin is so prominent, I urge you to roast and puree it at home. I know, you hate me now. But I promise it's dead easy and makes a big difference on the overall taste. Grab a couple of those cute little sugar pumpkins (aka pie pumpkins) or kabocha (aka Japanese pumpkins) as these varieties are sweeter than the large carving. Their smaller size also makes them much easier to handle and faster to roast. Directions on how to roast those pumpkins is included below.
Finally, a note about raw egg white. Since this recipe involves folding raw whipped egg whites into the filling, it is preferable not to serve this to very young children, the elderly, pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems. Most eggs are perfectly safe eaten raw but there is still a risk of salmonella contamination in uncooked, unpasteurized eggs. The filling recipe I used (from Saveur) whips the egg whites over a double boiler so it isn't completely raw. I used a candy thermometer for this step and heated it to 140f for 3.5 minutes after I read this article. If you don't want to bother with this step, the number one rule of consuming raw eggs is to always make sure they are fresh! To be super safe, look for pasteurized eggs or liquid egg whites that come in a carton which are always pasteurized. Pasteurized means they've been heated briefly to destroy bacteria. For liquid egg whites, use about 90g in the recipe to replace 3 fresh egg whites. But note that liquid egg whites take significantly longer to whip up and do not whip up to the same volume.
Recipe makes one 9.5" round tart or 14" x 4 .5' rectangular tart. Special equipment: (1) metal tart pan with removable bottom and (2) candy thermometer for egg whites (optional see head notes).
For the Crust:
3/4 C rolled oats
1/2 C gingersnap cookies (I use this one)
1/3 C unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar, preferably organic raw cane sugar
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 tbsp gelatin powder
3 large eggs, separated (*use pasteurized eggs in this recipe since the whites are added in raw)
3/4 C sugar, preferably organic raw cane sugar
1 1/4 C pumpkin puree, preferably homemade (directions below) but canned puree works too
1/2 C milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 C cold heavy cream or whipping cream (min 35% fat content)
1 tsp sugar, preferably organic raw cane sugar
1 tbsp (15 ml) pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Chopped toasted pecans for garnish.
1. Make the pumpkin puree (skip this step if using canned pumpkin puree): Preheat oven to 400f. Cut off the top stem of the pumpkin and cut it down the middle into 2 halves. You may leave the seeds in as they're easier to remove after roasting. Lightly oil the cut sides and place face down on parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes (or more depending on pumpkin size) or until the skin is starting to pucker and pull away from the flesh and you can pierce through the skin with a fork. After cooling enough to handle, remove the seeds and set aside for another use. Pull off the skin with your hands - it should come off rather easily. Throw the pumpkin in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Measure out 1 1/4 C needed for this recipe. Extra puree can be saved to use in another recipe and even frozen to keep fresh longer.
2. Make the crust: Place the rolled oats and gingersnap cookies in a food processor and pulse until you've got a crumbly mixture similar to coarse sand. Add the flour, sugars and salt and pulse a few times just to mix well. Now add the butter pieces and pulse enough times that the butter has been well integrated and the mixture clumps and sticks together when you press it between your fingers. Dump the mixture into an ungreased tart pan and press it in with your fingers. Take care to spread and press the mixture evenly throughout and have enough of the mixture of press up the sides to create a nice even wall all the way around. Chill the crust in the freezer for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350f. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until tart is slightly golden brown. Cool completely before removing from the tart pan.
3. Make the filling: Soak gelatin in ¼ cup cold water. Beat egg yolks, ¼ cup of the sugar, pumpkin, milk, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a saucepan over medium heat until thick, stir in gelatin, and cool.
4. Whip the egg whites. As mentioned in the head notes, you can whip the egg whites on top of a double boiler if you want to avoid serving completely raw egg whites. If you choose the double-boiler approach, be careful that the water is at a very gentle simmer so as not to cook the egg whites. I used a candy thermometer to heat the whites to a temperature of 140f for 3.5 minutes. Double-boiler or otherwise, first whip the whites until foamy. Then gradually add remaining ½ cup sugar all the while whisking, until egg whites have hold medium-to-firm peaks (i.e. softly mounded peaks just before it is shiny and stiff). Fold whites into filling and pour into pie shell. Chill in the refrigerator until set (~2-3 hrs) and keep chilled until ready to serve.
5. Make the whipped cream topping: Add the cold cream into a cold bowl. Whip until the cream achieves soft mounds. Add the remaining ingredients and continue whipping until soft peaks - or the tips of the peaks gently fold over when you turn your beater upside down. Keep the cream cold until ready to serve.
6. To serve, cut a slice of the tart and top with maple whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted nuts.