Pumpkin Tart with Shortbread Crust

pumpkin tart with shortbread crust

OK, I admit it! I’ve given up cleaning on Saturday mornings and instead I’m glued to the cooking and baking programs on public TV. Perhaps a sign of age?

recipe journal

I even have a notebook devoted to the recipes and techniques – and an index for the recipes on the first few pages. Yes, I’m a nerd. But a happy one!

The other one who is happy in her kitchen is Martha Stewart. She is doing a series called “Martha Bakes” and I find it riveting! Well, not as exciting as Downton Abbey, but still…I love it when she joyfully says, “Thank you chickens for these wonderful eggs.” Now that’s a grateful foody!

finished tart


I’ve been baking since I was 10, but I’m self taught. And I’ve never been terribly fussy, as long as things taste great when they’re done. Now that I’m watching Martha, I’m picking up lots of fun tips on how to do things “just right” so that things will look great AND taste great. Of course, I don’t have Martha’s patience, but I still love to try.

Today’s recipe for Pumpkin Tart with a Shortbread Crust is one that will be perfect for the Holidays. I have posted several shortbread cookie recipes – or bar recipes that use a shortbread for the bottom layer. But this tart could easily stand in for pumpkin pie and probably elbow it aside. Often the crusts for pumpkin pie just don’t have enough body for the heavy filling. But shortbread is a worthy partner.

lightly browned

Thanks Martha!

I love how she bakes in over-sized loose fitting blouses and speaks to us as if she knows us. Years ago I watched her create fussy bows or wrap packages in ways that took hours and I knew life was too short for me to bother with that. But baking is so practical. Sure it’s nice to get a gift with a fancy bow – for 10 seconds until the bow hits the floor. But a perfectly baked shortbread cookie or tart – that is a gift to savor and enjoy.

Martha has a fluted edge tart pan with a removable bottom. I do not. So I used my round quiche pan with the removable bottom. If you don’t have either, use a deep pie pan.

Shortbread Crust Ingredients
6 TBS unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
2 large egg yolks (or 1 egg and 1 yolk)
1 tsp salt (her recipe called for 1 1/2 tsp, but I thought the batter was too salty.)
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

wrap over raw dough

smooth

Directions for crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Cream the butter with the sugar, eggs and salt until well blended.
Add the flour and mix just until incorporated.
Generously grease your pan with butter or shortening.
Press the batter into the pan and push it up onto the sides. (I used a very deep pan and wished I had pressed it up even higher.)
Put a piece of plastic wrap over the crust and smooth it out using the back of a measuring cup or glass. It should be about 1/4″ thick.
Remove plastic and bake for 12 – 15 minutes until starting to get brown. (Or, if you want to be like Martha, chill the dough for 30 min and then bake.)

stir pumpkin layer

While the crust is baking, mix up the pumpkin filling.
Pumpkin Tart Filling Ingredients
1 15-oz can solid pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp all spice

Directions
Whisk these together or beat with your mixer until just blended.
When the crust is done – reduce the oven temp to 325 degrees. (Leave the door of the oven open for a minute to help it reduce.)
Pour the pumpkin over the hot crust.
Bake at 325 degrees for 55 – 60 minutes.

pumpkin tart


Let it stand for 30 minutes before turning it out onto a platter or plate.
Serve with whipped cream.

Fabulous!

Angel Food Pineapple Cupcakes

Angel food cupcakes

Batter up!

Sprinkles add fun and color

Bake till golden

Want easy? This is it. Two ingredients – or three, if you like – and you’ll have a tray of simple, light cupcakes that are low in fat, high in flavor.
This started as a weight loss recipe for bars, but I discovered that it works well as cupcakes. (Call them muffins if you eat them before noon!) Because they are angel food, the bars are moist and crumbly, so encasing them in muffin cups keeps fingers clean and somewhat contains the crumbs. Bring these to your next gathering – or to work as I did last week. They will love you for it.

Ingredients for Angel Food Cupcakes
1 box of one-step angel food cake (The kind where you only add water.)
1 16oz can of crushed pineapple with all the juice. (Packed in its own juice is best)

Optional: 1 cup coconut
Also optional – sprinkles to show which cupcakes have the coconut.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Put cupcake liners in 24 muffin cups.
Mix the cake mix and pineapple in a glass or metal pan with a large spoon. (No plastic, which holds grease.)
If you are adding coconut, add that too and stir to combine.
Use an ice cream scoop to scoop the mixture into the muffin cups.
Bake 15 – 20 minutes until they are golden brown.

I knew that a coworker dislikes coconut, so I put red sprinkles on the batch with the coconut to make it easier to tell the difference. Of course, the sprinkles were a favorite for the children who visited our office that day! So perhaps use two colors of sprinkles to denote those with – and without – the yummy coconut.

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Baked Chocolate Cheesecake – gluten free

It all started with the high price of gasoline. No, there’s no gas in the recipe, but this is where the thread begins.
We have the fuel saver program at our grocery store and I find myself sometimes purchasing items because I can get a nickel off each gallon of gas, rather than because I need the item. This was the case with ricotta cheese. I found myself with two packages that were approaching their expiration date. So one of them became this delicious dessert.

The picture looks like a brownie, but in fact, this is a baked chocolate cheesecake. I happened to have gluten-free graham crackers on hand, so the crust was gluten free. That was a bonus for my neighbor Karen, who has celiac and often does the taste tests for my GF recipes.

chocolate cheesecake

But even my other neighbors, Layton and Becky, who do not need gluten free, enjoyed the cheesecake blissfully unaware that it was GF.

I had created another chocolate cheesecake a year or so ago, but there were too many ingredients and steps. So I simplified it and we loved the result.

Makes an 8″ square pan, or 16 servings.
Graham cracker crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
4 TBS butter, softened

Filling Ingredients

15 oz ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup almond flour – sifted because it can be lumpy and no one wants lumpy cheesecake

Garnish – 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Blend graham cracker crust ingredients.
Press into 8″ square pan that has been greased with butter.

Filling: beat the ingredients in the order listed until smooth.
Pour them over the unbaked crust.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a crack forms on the top.

Pull cheesecake out of the oven and while very hot, sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips.
Put the cake back into the oven for one minute.
Pull out of the oven and spread the chips which will become a light frosting.

That’s it. Of course, you should wait until the cake is cooled to try it. Good luck with that!

I hope you have friends to share this with because it is very rich. Very very rich.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce

Springtime in the Midwest always includes rhubarb. And deer. One wondered into our backyard Saturday evening as we were having dinner. She looked at me as if she was asking where I keep the rhubarb.

Deer visitor


I do love rhubarb. As a small child we chewed on the raw stalks…after dipping them in sugar. Now I make jams, crisps, coffeecakes and sauces. I used to make a sauce with just rhubarb and a sugar substitute – a Weight Watchers recipe from the ’60′s. But it was too acidic alone and left a funny taste on my teeth.

strawberry rhubarb sauce

I tried adding in strawberries and using a bit of sugar. What a great find. Wonderful alone or over Greek yogurt, ice cream, frozen yogurt, cake or cottage cheese. You can also pour a bit over raw strawberries and add a dollop of yogurt on top.

sauce over angel food


Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
1 cup cleaned rhubarb, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1/2 cup sugar (you may also use Stevia or Truvia)
1 tbs lemon juice
dash salt

Directions
Put all ingredients in a saucepan and heat on medium-low on the stove.
It may appear dry at first, but as the fruit cooks, it will let go of it’s juices and become a sauce.
Slowly bring to a boil and boil about one minute.
Remove from heat. The sauce will thicken a bit as it cools.
Eat it warm or cool. Store left overs in the fridge.

more cake

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