Pumpkin desserts are almost mandatory for Thanksgiving.

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There’s no getting around it: You’re making a pumpkin dessert. Even with the cloying pumpkin-spice craze already in full swing, no one’s going without the holiday favorite on the big day.

As evidenced by its presence in everything from breakfast cereal to potato chips, the flavor profile is versatile (though maybe not as versatile some are trying to make it). We’re dialing it back, keeping pumpkin spice in the only place it belongs: dessert.

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Julia Child’s classic pâte brisée sucrée pastry recipe provides a sweet, decadent crust that stands up admirably to the puree filling. In addition to the classic pumpkin tart, we asked local pastry chefs to give us their riffs on pumpkin goodness.


Pumpkin Tart with Julia Child’s Pâte Brisée Sucrée Crust


11/3 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening


15 ounces (1 can) pumpkin puree

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup sugar

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon cardamom

1¼ teaspoons coarse salt

1. Put flour into a large bowl and mix in sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, work butter and shortening into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add as much as 4 tablespoons of ice water and blend quickly with one hand, fingers held together and slightly cupped, as you rapidly gather the dough into a mass. Then press dough firmly into a rough-shaped ball. It should just hold together and be pliable but not sticky.

2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. With the heel of one hand, not the palm (which is too warm), rapidly press pastry by two-spoonful bits down on floured surface and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches. Gather dough together, then knead it briefly into a fairly smooth round ball. Sprinkle it lightly with flour and wrap in waxed paper. Either freeze dough for 1 hour or refrigerate it for 2 hours or overnight before using.

3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter a 9-inch tart pan.

4. Whisk together all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl.

5. Press the pastry dough into a 9-inch tart or pie pan.

6. Pour the filling into the crust.

7. Bake 50-55 minutes (rotating halfway through) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

8. Allow to cool and then chill for several hours to set. Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before serving.


Rachael Coyle’s Pumpkin & Marmalade Cake

After running the pastry programs at the popular French spots Le Pichet and Cafe Presse, Rachael Coyle struck out on her own and opened Coyle’s Bakeshop in Greenwood. Because of delicious creations like this cake, lines were out the door.

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup (3½ ounces) thick-cut orange marmalade

1 cup (8 ounces) pumpkin puree

1¾ cup (8 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1/3 cup milk

Pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a standard loaf tin.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, cream together the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and the marmalade, beat until incorporated, then add the pumpkin puree. (At this point, it’s normal for the mixture to look somewhat curdled.)

3. Add approximately half of the dry ingredients and fold until they are almost completely blended, follow with the milk, and finish with the remainder of the dry ingredients. Fold the mixture one last time with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is well blended, but do not mix any more than necessary.

4. Transfer batter to the prepared loaf tin, smooth the top, and top with pumpkin seeds (if using).

5. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool for 30 minutes in the tin, then unmold and let cool completely on a wire rack.


Phebe Rossi’s Gluten-free Pumpkin Cheesecake

The holidays are a time of visitors, and with visitors, these days, come food restrictions. But that doesn’t mean deliciousness restrictions. Phebe Rossi of Capitol Hill’s Nuflours shared this recipe that you won’t even know is gluten free.


1½ cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature

11/3 cups sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

4 large eggs

1 cup (9 ounces) pumpkin puree


½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment.

2. In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt. Toss until mixed.

3. Pour melted butter over crackers, and mix until well combined.

4. Press crust into bottom of pan.

5. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 325 degrees.

6. In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and no lumps remain, about 5 minutes.

7. Add the sugar and mix, until just combined.

8. Add pumpkin puree and spices and mix.

9. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.

10. Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 325 for 80 minutes.

11. Leaving the cake in the oven, turn the oven off. Let the cake rest in the oven for 20 minutes.

12. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

13. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake.

14. Leaving the walls of the pan on, wrap the cake and refrigerate overnight.

15. To finish the cake, remove from pan. Whip heavy cream, sugar and vanilla together until the cream forms soft peaks. Top the cake with whipped cream and serve.


Clare Gordon’s Kataifi Tart with Pumpkin Pastry Cream

The pastry chef at Renee Erickson’s new Capitol Hill triple threat — Bateau, Bar Melusine and General Porpoise — uses this slightly savory pumpkin pastry cream as a seasonal filling in doughnuts. They also plan to serve it at Bar Melusine layered in a kataifi tart shell, a play on a classic pumpkin pie. Kataifi is shredded phyllo pastry, and can be found at Middle Eastern specialty-food stores.

The Cream:

(Any of the spices can be omitted if they are too hard to find)

2 cups pumpkin puree

3 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

14 ounces cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon orange blossom water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon ground clove

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground rose petals

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1. Beat together eggs and sugar.

2. Add cornstarch and dry spices and whisk to combine. Add pumpkin and stir to combine.

3. Stir in all the remaining ingredients except for the butter.

4. Cook in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. The mixture will start to thicken; continue to stir until it begins to bubble. Allow to boil for about a minute, then remove from heat and stir in the butter.

5. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a wide pan, cover with plastic, and cool in the refrigerator. Store cold in a tight-lidded plastic container and use within a week.

The Kataifi Tart Shell:

1. Use a 2:1 ratio of pastry to melted butter and mix in a bowl with your fingers, pulling apart the kataifi to give it volume and tangle it up a little.

2. Line a mini-pie pan or muffin tins with a thin layer, just enough to make a thick web; you will still be able to see the mold.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown throughout.

4. Allow to cool, and unmold before filling with pumpkin cream (spoon the filling in or use a piping bag). We top the pumpkin cream with some softly whipped and lightly sweetened and salted cream as well. Optional garnishes include candied pecans, honey or bee pollen.