First Birthday Tart
True! My niece didn't have a birthday cake or even a cupcake for her first birthday. My family took the risk of assigning dessert-making to me, so my niece ended up with a pumpkin banana tart with piles of whipping cream (inspired by and nod to Barefoot Contessa, Family Style). The celebration actually engulfed 3 birthdays in the family: my son and 2 of my nieces. And the tart was a hit! My 1 year old niece wore it all over her face, my son loves pumpkin and thought it a special treat, and everyone else seemed to welcome the whip cream covered jolt of fall. When my sister-in-law requested this tart for the Thanksgiving menu, I let out a sigh of relief, despite the unconventional birthday treat. Sure---I will put it on the short list for Thanksgiving desserts. (Let me know if you do, too). Oh, and the biggest tip to making this hands-on dessert feel easy is to get out the tools before you start: tart or tartlet pans, mixing bowls, 1 saucepan, 2 rubber spatulas, a handheld blender for whipping cream and a whisk. Bowls all out, now enjoy the process and outcome, especially the benefit of having dessert done a day ahead of time:
Pumpkin Banana Tart Serves 10.
Makes six 6 inch tarts, or one 11 inch tart, or one 9 inch and 3 six inch tarts, or try smaller tartlets for finger food: pour as many as you can but keep the pumpkin filling to about 3/4 inch, no thicker. Crust 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 1/3 cup sugar 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup butter
Filling 1/2 cup half&half 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree 1 cup light brown sugar, packed 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp nutmeg 3 large egg yolks, 4 if small 1 small package gelatin (2 tsp) 1 ripe banana, well mashed 1 tsp grated orange zest 1/2 cup cold heavy cream 2 T plus 1 tsp sugar
Dollops 1 cup heavy cream 2 T sugar 1/2 tsp orange extract OR 1/2 tsp vanilla extract OR 1/8 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350. Pulse to blend ingredients for crust, press into sides and bottom of tart pan(s) (with removable bottoms if you have them). Bake 10 minutes then cool. Place gelatin in 1/4 cup water and set aside (tiny bowl). Heat and stir cream, pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in dutch oven/heavy saucepan over medium until hot, about 6-8 minutes. Whisk eggs in [another] bowl, adding small spoonfuls of hot pumpkin mix to warm up the eggs but not cook them. Stir slowly and continually. Once the egg mix is heated through, add into pan with pumpkin mix. Stir continually until heated and thickened, 5 minutes. Remove from heat. In [yet another] bowl, blend banana, gelatin mix and orange zest. Stir into pumpkin mix. Whip cream in chilled bowl (hey, how many bowls is that?), adding sugar when peaks start to form. When you have firm peaks, fold into pumpkin mix and pour into tart pans. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight. Make dollops to top tarts by repeating whip cream procedure (in the last, chilled bowl), adding extract/cinnamon with the sugar. Whatever you do, resist the temptation to serve in bowls---you already filled that quota.