Spiced pumpkin custard tarts

Pumpkin pie is a bit of a favourite in the richinflavour household around Halloween time. This pumpkin custard tart recipe look pretty good and taste bloody awesome. I especially like the contrast between the crisp pastry and the smooth pumpkin custard you get when going small scale rather than opting for the traditional larger pie.

Don't waste the flesh when pumpkin carving - The best thing about these tarts is not only do you get a delicious dessert you also get to play with the key ingredient beforehand– pumpkin carving which should be a staple Halloween activity for any household. When carving your pumpkins don't waste the flesh or the seeds; prior to cutting pretty or not so pretty pictures into your pumpkin, scrape out the stringy stuff. Save all the seeds - toasted they make a great snack and use the flesh to make these spiced pumpkin custard tarts . 

Here’s the recipe to these spooky Halloween treats:

Ingredients to make 12 tarts

For the pastry
300g plain flour
30g icing sugar
210g cold butter
Zest of two lemons
Pinch of salt
A few slashes of ice cold water

For the pumpkin custard
200g cooked pumpkin flesh (method a
40g light brown sugar
90g double cream
1 medium free range egg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tbsp of maple syrup

You'll also need an extra knob of butter (to grease), a sprinkling of plain flour (to them stop sticking), some cup cake cases, blind baking beads and a cupcake baking tray


Cooking your pumpkin

Before you cook the tart, you need to cook the flesh. Place pumpkin flesh in a saucepan with a bit of water in the bottom and a good knob of butter. Cook with lid on, on a lowish heat for 20 minutes and then 10 minutes lid off. Pour in to a colander and leave to cool, don't cover as you want moisture to evaporate as it cools. Blend and then it's ready to use for soups, pies and these awesome little tarts.

The tarts

  1. First you need to make the pastry – place the flour, salt, lemon zest in a bowl.
  2. Grate the cold butter into the bowl and rub the ingredients together through your fingers and thumbs. Grating the butter into the bowl makes this job easier.
  3. Once you have a breadcrumb like consistency add a splash of water. Pretending your hand is a claw, gradually mix in the water. Repeat this process until the mixture is just about starting to stick together.
  4. Gently press into a ball, wrap in cling film and pop it in the fridge for half an hour.
  5. Twenty minutes into pastry resting turn the oven on to 200 degrees C.
  6. Using a piece of kitchen towel rub some butter around each of the indents in the baking tray.
  7. Place a small teaspoon of floor in each indent and gently shake the tray until a light layer of flour has covered the butter. Shake away the excess flour from the tin.
  8. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to about 3 to 4 millimetres thick.
  9. Using a circular pastry cutter cut out your twelve pastry bases and gently press into each of the indents. I press them down with a small piece of pastry so not to create finger dents.
  10. Press a fork into the base of each tart case and place a cupcake case inside each one. Gently press the case into the pastry to achieve a tooth like pattern and fill it with baking beans or dried pulses.
  11. Blind bake in the oven for eight minutes; remove the cupcake case and bake for a further five minutes.
  12. Turn the oven off whilst you allow the pastry cases to cool and make the pumpkin custard mixture.
  13. Chuck all the ingredients for the custard in a mixing jug and whisk together.
  14. Once the mixture is well combined gently pour into the pastry cases – make sure you leave about two millimetres from the top of the pastry case.
  15. Place in the oven and turn the oven down to 150 degrees. After 30 minutes you should notice that the filling has set and risen slightly.
  16. Leave the tarts in the tray for five minutes - the custard will sink back down, don’t worry, it’s meant to. To remove the tarts from the tray, place a wire rack over the top of the tarts and flip it over so the tarts are out of the tin but upside down. Turn them over before leaving them to cool ready for you to tuck in to.