Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

serves 8-10

1 recipe Sweet Tart Dough, pre-baked 

For the Candied Walnuts

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 Tablespoon light corn syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Caramel

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons (1-ounce) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup bourbon

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 extra large egg

1 extra large egg yolk

3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons pumpkin purée

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of kosher salt

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Candied Walnuts

Preheat the oven to  350º F.

In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, corn syrup, sugar, and salt.  Spread in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake, stirring halfway through, until golden brown, about 7 minutes.  Cool on a rack until crisp, about 5 minutes, and break into small clusters.  (The nuts can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead; keep in an airtight container at room temperature.)

For the Caramel

In a heavy-bottom 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, about 7-9 minutes.  Whisk in the bourbon and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the whisk leaves the bottom of the pan visible again, about 1-2 minutes more.  Stir in the vanilla.  Transfer the caramel to a heat proof measuring cup.  Pour 1/3 cup of the caramel over the bottom of the cooled crust, spreading evenly.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to set the caramel.  (Leave the remaining caramel at room temperature.)

For the Filling

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg and yolk, beating until well combined.  Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt and mix until thoroughly combined.  Reduce the speed to low and add the half-and-half and vanilla.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until well combined.  Pour the filling into the crust and bake until the filling has puffed slightly and its surface no longer appears wet, about 35-40 minutes.  Cool on a rack until the filling is completely cooled and firm, at least 1 hour.

If the remaining caramel is no longer pourable, warm it in the microwave in 20-second bursts, until pourable.  Drizzle the remaining caramel over the custard gently spreading evenly.  Arrange the candied walnuts around the edge of the tart and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.  Transfer to a serving platter and serve chilled.  Enjoy!

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