Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Adapted via Fine Cooking
Serves: 8 to 10

For the pumpkin seeds
♦ Cooking spray
♦ 1-1/2 tsp light corn syrup
♦ 3/4 tsp granulated sugar
♦ 1/8 tsp kosher salt
♦ 1-1/4 oz (1/4 cup) raw hulled pumpkin seeds

For the caramel
♦ 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
♦ 1 oz (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
♦ 1/2 tsp kosher salt
♦ 1 cup heavy cream
♦ 1/4 cup bourbon

For the filling
♦ 4 oz cream cheese, softened
♦ 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
♦ 1 large egg
♦ 1 large egg yolk
♦ 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. canned pure pumpkin purée
♦ 1 tsp cinnamon
♦ 3/4 tsp ground ginger
♦ 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
♦ Pinch of kosher salt
♦ 1/2 cup heavy cream

Candy the pumpkin seeds: Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment and lightly coat it with cooking spray.

Combine the corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Add the pumpkin seeds, stir, and spread in a single layer on the prepared sheet. Bake, stirring halfway through, until golden-brown, about 7 minutes. Cool on a rack until crisp, about 5 minutes, and then break into small clusters. (The seeds can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead; keep in an airtight container at room temperature.)

Make the caramel: In a 2-quart saucepan, cook the brown sugar, butter, and salt over medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts and begins to darken around the edges, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cream (some sugar will seize) and simmer, whisking occasionally, until smooth and thick enough that the whisk leaves the bottom of the pan visible, 7 to 9 minutes. Whisk in the bourbon and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the whisk leaves the bottom of the pan visible again, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof measuring cup. Pour 1/3 cup of the caramel over the bottom of the cooled crust and spread it evenly with a small offset spatula. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to set the caramel. (Leave the remaining caramel at room temperature.)

Make the filling and bake: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-1/2 minutes. Add the egg and then the egg yolk, beating until well combined. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt and mix until thoroughly combined. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the half-and-half. Slowly pour the filling into the crust. Bake until the filling has puffed slightly and its surface no longer appears wet, 35 to 40 minutes. (It’s OK if cracks form; they will be covered later.) Cool on a rack until the filling is completely cooled and firm, about 1 hour.

If the remaining caramel is no longer pourable, warm it in a microwave in 20-second bursts, whisking between bursts, until pourable, about 80 seconds total. (Alternatively, reheat it gently over very low heat.) Drizzle the remaining caramel over the custard and spread it evenly. Arrange the pumpkin seeds around the edge of the tart, cover the pan with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours (Can be made up to 1 day ahead – cover and refrigerate until ready to serve).

To serve: run a thin knife around the edge of the tart and remove the side of the pan. Transfer to a serving plate and serve chilled

To read more about this dish and my musical pairing, click HERE.

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