Food & Drink

Try these pumpkin spice desserts

Even with the pumpkin-spice craze already in full swing, no one’s going without the Thanksgiving favorite on the big day.
Even with the pumpkin-spice craze already in full swing, no one’s going without the Thanksgiving favorite on the big day. TNS

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.

Julia Child’s classic pate brisee sucree 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 Pate Brisee Sucree Crust


1 1/3 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening

4 tablespons ice water


15 ounces (1 can) pumpkin puree

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt

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. Start by adding 3 tablespoons ice water (you may need more) and blend quickly with one hand, fingers held together and slightly cupped, as you rapidly gather the dough into a mass. If it doesn’t come together, add remaining 1 tablespon ice water. Then press dough firmly into a rough-shaped ball. It should just hold together and be pliable but not sticky.

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.

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

Whisk together pumpkin puree, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom and salt in a mixing bowl. Press the pastry dough into a 9-inch tart or pie pan. Pour the filling into the crust.

Bake 50-55 minutes (rotating halfway through) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool and then chill for several hours to set. Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake

Phebe Rossi of Seattle’s Nuflours shared this recipe that you won’t even know is gluten free.


1 1/2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 cup (9 ounces) pumpkin puree

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

4 large eggs


1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

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

In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, sugar and salt. Toss until mixed. Pour melted butter over crackers, and mix until well combined. Press crust into bottom of pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and no lumps remain, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and mix, until just combined. Add pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and mix. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 325 degrees for 80 minutes. Leaving the cake in the oven, turn the oven off. Let the cake rest in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake. Leaving the walls of the pan on, wrap the cake and refrigerate overnight.

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.

Yield: 8-10 servings.