This is great dessert for a “grown up” Halloween or harvest party–easy to eat with your fingers, not too sweet, and a little bit sophisticated. The recipe makes two tarts and I cut one into a round and left the other in the out-of-the box puff pastry rectangular shape. Either way you can cut these into small pieces and serve warm or cold.
I used a small pie pumpkin and sliced the half-moons about 1/3 of an inch thick. You want them of roughly equal thicknesses so they will cook evenly, but don’t stress if they are not uniform. I pre-cooked the sliced, peeled pumpkin in some honey-vanilla poaching liquid and then let them cool enough to arrange them on the puff pastry. Be sure to use a pie pumpkin for these–varieties that are grown for Jack o’ Lanterns tend to be stringy and watery and you will not get a good result. Pie pumpkins are often sold as “sugar pumpkins.”
If you cut your pastry into rounds you can brush the scraps with a little of the honey-vanilla glaze and bake them until golden. They make an excellent snack, especially if you have to wait a while to serve the tarts. You can vary your spices with pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, ginger–whatever you like. I used a little Chinese five spice powder on these, and put some chopped pecans on one and left the other nut-free. You could also cut your pastry into small squares for individual tarts.
Fresh Pumpkin Tart with Honey-Vanilla Bean Glaze
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
1 pie pumpkin, about 3 pounds
3 tablespoons walnut oil or butter
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
five spice powder, or other spice of choice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds only
Optional: chopped pecans or walnuts
Let the thawed puff pastry come to room temperature to make it easier to unfold. For the pumpkin, cut it in half from the stem end to blossom end, and scoop out the seeds (toast those up for an additional treat). Cut the pumpkin into wedges and use a sharp paring knife to carefully pare off the skin. Cut the peeled pumpkin into thin slices.
In a large skillet with a lid, heat the pumpkin with the walnut oil, water, 3 tablespoons of honey, vanilla extract, and salt. Let it come to a boil and then cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, covered, for about ten minutes, or until the pumpkin is just cooked through. Uncover and let the pumpkin cool enough to handle.
Unfold the puff pastry on two ungreased baking sheets, and arrange the pumpkin in a decorative pattern on both sheets. Let the remaining poaching liquid cook down to a syrup and brush this over the pumpkin. Sprinkle with five spice or desired seasoning, and bake for 20 minutes.
Stir together the remaining honey with the vanilla bean seed. Brush this over the partially-baked tarts, including the edges. If you are including nuts, sprinkle them on now. Return the tarts to the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they are well browned. Remove and cool before cutting to serve.
Thanks for reading,