If you want to go all out, and I mean really all out with a pumpkin dessert this year, skip the pumpkin pie and make this incredible Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart recipe from Fine Cooking. The dessert is gorgeous and tastes just as good as it looks. No one will miss the pie.
I won't lie: it's definitely more work than pumpkin pie, but worth it. There are four separate components to make: the tart shell, which is like pie crust but with a little cornmeal that gives it great texture; the pumpkin filling, which is like pumpkin cheesecake; the bourbon-flavored caramel topping; and the candied pumpkin seed topping.
Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart
Adapted from Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart, Fine Cooking
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
3/4 tsp. sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
6 tbsp. fine cornmeal
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
8 tbsp. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp. ice water, plus more if needed
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup bourbon
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. canned pumpkin purée
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup half-and-half
Make the pumpkin seeds:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush with oil.
3. Combine pumpkin seeds, corn syrup and sugar in a small bowl. Spread evenly on the lined baking sheet. Bake about 5 minutes, stirring halfway through. Transfer to a plate and, when cooled, break up into small clusters.
Make the tart shell:
1. Add the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt to a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
2. Combine the egg, egg yolk and 1 tbsp. of ice water in a small bowl. Add the egg mixture to the processor and pulse until the mixture just comes together, adding additional ice water if necessary. Form the dough into a round and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a 13-inch circle. Carefully transfer the dough to a 9-inch springform pan. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, being careful not to stretch it. Trim any excess dough so the that the dough comes up to about 1/2 inch below the rim of the pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to 24 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350 F with rack in the bottom third of the oven.
5. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork at 1-inch intervals. Line the top of the dough with a piece of aluminum foil and fill with dried beans, pie weights or spare change (spare change makes great pie weights and doesn't result in ruined beans). Bake until the sides are firm, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and pie weights and bake the crust for another 10 minutes until the bottom is firm (note: I actually forgot to put it back in the oven for the second bake and it turned out fine). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Make the caramel sauce:
1. Combine brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar melts and begins to darken around the edges, about 5 minutes. Carefully whisk in the cream (it will sputter a bit) and simmer, whisking frequently, until the mixture is smooth and thick enough that the whisk leaves the bottom of the pan visible, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add the bourbon and continue simmering, whisking occasionally, until the whisk leaves the bottom of the pan visible again, another 2 minutes. Transfer caramel mixture to a heatproof glass measuring cup.
2. Pour 1/3 cup of the caramel over the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Use a spatula to spread the sauce evenly. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to set the caramel.
Make the filling and bake:
1. Add the cream cheese and brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes (alternatively, add to a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer). Add the egg and egg yolk and beat until well combined. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce beater speed to low and add the half-n-half.
2. Slowly pour the filling into the prepared tart shell. Bake until the filling has puffed slightly and its surface looks dry, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack until the filling is completely cooled and firm, about an hour.
1. Warm the remaining caramel sauce in the microwave in 20-second bursts until pourable. Drizzle caramel over the pumpkin custard and spread it evenly with a spatula. Drop the pumpkin seeds onto the sauce around the edge of the tart shell. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to 1 day.
2. Run a thin knife around the edge of the springform pan and release the pan. Transfer tart to a serving plate and serve chilled.