I'm so late in getting today's post up and I'm all in a tizzy about it. I picture my readers frantically walking around in circles, eyes glazed, bellies rumbling, wondering if I've been wounded or, worse, fired from my own blog. Given the current state of the magazine industry, with publications folding by the minute, I wouldn't be surprised if I had to lay myself off. Man, that would really suck, especially because I've got a boss who lets me take long lunches and keeps me in decent snacks.
Anyway, it's because I've been baking. Yes, I've been baking, all day, for you. Holed up like a prisoner in my own kitchen, flour and pumpkin and pecans flying this way and that, timers bleeping, dishes accumulating, water glasses toppling because there just wasn't enough room for everything to have its own space. Chaos called, and I answered.
My friend Lisa essentially challenged me to a pecan pie bake-off, which is why this day turned out the way it did. My pecan pie, sadly, had some problems, but we'll discuss that in the next post.
Today's post is about my success, and how I showed Lisa who's the queen. (That would be me.)
Seriously, though, we need to discuss these pumpkin mini pies. They should have been a disaster, they really should have been, but they came out fabulously. I changed up my favorite Alice Medrich crust recipe for the third time, making a whole wheat version with crystallized ginger. (The first time I tweaked it for my Raspberry-Cardamom Tart in a Cocoa Crust, the second time for my Key Lime Tart in a Chocolate-Coconut Crust.)
Lisa, to her great credit, suggested that I make these individual tarts in a muffin tin, and the idea proved inspired.
Really, really inspired.
More on the pecan pie throwdown in a few days...
Recipe for Pumpkin Mini Pies in a Whole Wheat Ginger Crust
If you love pumpkin pie but are looking for something a little daintier, with a more tender crust and more elegant presentation, this is it. Just be warned that removing the tarts from the muffin tins requires a sharp knife, a small spoon, and a steady but determined hand. My thanks to Bittersweet for inspiring the crust, Tartine for inspiring the filling, and Lisa for her (almost) unwavering conviction that I could actually pull these off.
Makes 8 individual desserts
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger, plus additional for garnish
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 scant cup pumpkin puree (canned is perfectly fine)
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon brandy
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and ground ginger
pinch each nutmeg and ground cloves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, crystallized ginger, and flour with a wooden spoon. Dough will be very soft and won't really look like dough. Plop two tablespoons (use an actual measuring spoon, please) of dough in each of 8 muffin cups (in a 12-cup plaque), spacing the 8 among all the rows. (A random 4 cups will remain empty.)
Use your thumb and index finger to press the dough out into the cups and up the sides. Try to make it as even as possible. If it doesn't reach fully up the sides, that's okay, but do the best that you can. Parbake the crusts for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and beginning to set. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Whisk together the remaining ingredients (pumpkin through cloves) in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl until well-combined. Divide the batter among the crusts, filling each crust almost (but not quite) to the top. You may have a little filling left over. Do not be tempted to overfill the crusts!
Bake the pies for 30 minutes, or until tops look darkened and matte, and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the tins.
Once cool, slide a sharp, thin knife around each muffin cup to loosen pies, then remove with a thin spoon. Sprinkle with additional minced crystallized ginger.