Pumpkin Pie Jack-o’-Lanterns

My friend Isabel (aka Grushenka of Grushenka i Alyosha) came over today, ostensibly to study physics, but really to bake and play some Beatles Rock Band.  She is a pie baker, and I am in love with my new non-stick cupcake tins, so we decided to make miniature pumpkin pies in the cupcake tins, which we intend to bring to our Russian-folk-song-singing club/group/thingy.  And, in honour of the approaching festivities of next weekend (i.e. Halloween), we gave the pies miniature stems and faces so that they looked like jack-o’-lanterns (ok, in retrospect it might’ve been wiser to draw those on with frosting for better accuracy). After a taste test, we agreed that these were absolutely delectable, and would make an excellent dessert for any fall gathering.

Pumpkin Pie Bites

Pumpkin Pie Jack-o’-Lanterns
3 c flour
2 sticks (16 tbs) unsalted butter
ice water

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 can of pure pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Chocolate chips, for decorating

1. Prepare the pie crust: chop the butter into 1/4″ pieces. In a large mixing bowl, cut the butter and flour together until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Adding the ice water 1 table spoon at a time, mix with the flour-butter mixture until the dough holds together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
2. Prepare the filling: in a large mixing bowl, blend together the cream cheese, pumpkin, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and beat until smooth.
3. Preheat the oven to 350oF. Roll out the dough to about 1/16″ thickness. Using a nonstick muffin tin, cut circles large enough to fill each cup. Line the muffin tin with the dough circles. With the extra dough, make the stems, and press into the dough-lined cups to attach. Fill each 3/4 full with filling and decorate with the chocolate chips. Bake 18-20 minutes, until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely, then remove from the cups, taking care not to break the stems in the process.

Makes about 16, using full size muffin tins

Bakewell Tart

In honour of my sister’s Columbus Day visit, I decided to make a full-size version of the Bakewell tartlets. This time, instead of a marzipan topping, I used a powdered-sugar based glaze. The recipe was basically a modification of the recipe for the tartlets.

bakewell tart

Bakewell Tart
Shortcrust Pastry
2 c (12 oz) all-purpose flour
3 oz butter
3 oz shortening
6-9 tbs ice water

Rasberry jam
2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 c flour
1/4 c finely ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder

Glaze Topping
2 c powdered sugar

1. To make the shortcrust, sift the flour into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter and shortening into the flour until it forms coarse crumbs. Pour the ice water over the mixture, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it begins to come together. Shape into a disk and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
2. Preheat the oven to 350o. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to 1/8″ thick. Line a greased 10″ tart pan with the dough round.
3. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with a fork (to prevent puffing), place in freezer for 5 mins, then prebake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy, then add the eggs and almond extract. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour together with the baking soda and ground almonds. Beat this into the butter mixture until fluffy.
5. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam in the bottom of the shell, then spoon the filling mixture on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
6. Finally, make the glaze. In a large bowl, mix together the powdered sugar with some water. Continue to add water until the glaze is thick but pourable. Pour over the top of the cooled tart and smooth with an offset spatula.

Makes one 10″ tart