remembrance of flavors past

by hungryrabbit on November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Mousse Tartlet

With this unusually warm fall weather we’re having on the East Coast, autumn has been at our door steps but never quite passed the threshold and settled into our kitchen. With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to prepare for the flavors of the coming holidays. So far, I’ve used apples and pears—plus, butternut, acorn, and delicata squashes incorporated into grain salads for healthy meals.

Having grown up in subtropical Hong Kong and then living in California, I couldn’t help but be moved by the changing of seasons I first really experienced in New York. With each season came a change in culinary focus. You can get a lot of produce and ingredients year round to make certain recipes any time, but eating the food associated with the appropriate season makes more sense to me. Fall, being my favorite season, brings thoughts of favorite comfort foods and holiday specialties.

Like some, I was not a fan of pumpkin pie when I first tried it. The unfamiliar flavor profile didn’t do much for me . . . until M’s stories of extended-family holidays and the two aroma-filled days of cooking by his mother, aunts, and grandmother that usually included his favorite pies—apple and pumpkin. Sitting at the children’s table with his cousins didn’t necessarily mean child-size portions.

Pumpkin Mousse Tartlets are a great way to get non-believers to open their mouths for something new. The chocolate tart shell is enough of a temptress, but the luscious pumpkin mousse is infused with orange zest to brighten the earthiness of the pumpkin. Banana lends its natural sweetness to add depth to this seemingly ordinary looking dessert—tartlets that are both elegant and rustic and ready for Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Mousse Tartlets

recipe inspired by Ina Garten
make 10 tartlets

Chocolate Crust:
36 chocolate wafers, about 3 cups
1/4 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pumpkin Mousse:
½ cup half-and-half
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large egg yolks
1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon dark rum
½ cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in the center position of oven.

2. Place chocolate wafer, sugar, cinnamon in a food processor, pulse to combine until fine crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse to just combine. Divide chocolate crust mixture into 10 3-inch tart molds and press evenly into the sides and then the bottom.

3. Bake for 12-15 minutes until set, cool completely at room temperature. Crust will firm up slightly as they cool.

4. Dissolve the gelatin in ¼ cup cold water.

5. Place half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl, set it over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir about a cup of the hot pumpkin mixture into the egg yolks to temper, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

6. Combine dissolved gelatin, banana, orange zest and rum in a large bowl. Strain in pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool. (Straining the pumpkin mixture ensures a smooth silky mousse)

7. Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

8. Serve Pumpkin Mousse Tartlets by themselves or with a dollop of Rum Scented Whipped Cream.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

diva November 19, 2010 at 9:04 am

What lovely tarts and I do love anything pumpkin. Did get some getting used to a few years ago but we eat lots of butternut squash around the house so it wasn’t too different! These are beautiful, positively glowing in that light :)

Victoria (District Chocoholic) November 19, 2010 at 9:07 am

Wow, I love the pumpkin mousse concept. And paired with chocolate! I have a chocolate tart dough recipe I need to use; maybe I’ll fill it with mousse.

Joan Nova November 19, 2010 at 9:16 am

This looks beautiful. For me, adding orange zest to anything (sweet or savory) adds brightness and takes whatever it is to a new level.

fooodwanderings November 19, 2010 at 9:30 am

Ken, I normally do not like pumpkin desserts but when the ingredient is at your hands, it’s magical! I would probably love it! Shulie

April November 19, 2010 at 9:56 am

As I write this, my mouth is watering. My family isn’t too keen on anything pumpkin pie for its unusual and distinct flavors that aren’t available in SE Asia. My mom only purchases store bought pumpkin pies on Thanksgiving for the kids. With the chocolate, sweetness of the bananas and orange zest – I think this can be the turning point. I am making this for Christmas, when I’m back home! We’ll see how their palates react. Thanks for sharing!

Savory Sweet Living November 19, 2010 at 10:14 am

Wow, these look amazing! I love that you used chocolate wafers to form the crust, my favorite! M is so lucky!

saltyseattle November 19, 2010 at 12:16 pm

oh honey- they are so beautiful. wish they weren’t too delicate to fedex:)

On another note, just wanted to tell you that you mean a lot to me and I think you are a fantastic person. xo, linda

sippitysup November 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Such elegant little tarts. I think pumpkin and chocolate a really great combination. I and hope to show you what I mean by that soon. GREG

JehanP November 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I’m always looking for new and creative ways of using pumpkin instead of plain old pumpkin pie and I love this!

Amanda November 19, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Such a lovely recipe.. and your pictures are just divine!!


Cookin' Canuck November 19, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Okay, I absolutely love this idea. I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, but pumpkin mousse in beautiful chocolate shells is right up my alley.

Crustabakes November 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm

This is a wonderful change to all the pumpkin pies! and its practically non baked too!

Lora @cakeduchess November 19, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Beautiful job Ken. I do love the flavor of pumpkin. These tartlets are something I need to try for Thanksgiving:)

Diane {} November 19, 2010 at 10:50 pm

These look amazingly delicious :)

Jenni November 20, 2010 at 9:56 am

I love the addition of the orange zest–what an excellent idea! I am generally not a fan of pumpkin desserts because most people try to kill the pumpkin flavor by throwing as many spices at it as they can. And then, what’s the point, right?

These look lovely!

Jeanne @ CookSister November 20, 2010 at 10:05 am

Oh WOW! I love these – their decadent looks and their delightful flavour combinations. Inspired idea to make a chocolate crust :)

rebecca November 21, 2010 at 11:21 pm

wow what an amazing little treat

Brian @ A Thought For Food November 22, 2010 at 7:57 am

I think you should start a tartlet company, Ken! Everyone goes crazy over cupcakes… but I think tartlets are the next big thing.

This looks fantastic and I’m sure M is enjoying this one!

bunkycooks November 22, 2010 at 9:38 am

Pumpkin and chocolate…I know just what to do with my next pumpkin! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Heather November 23, 2010 at 7:39 am

Beautifully done!

RJ Flamingo November 23, 2010 at 7:56 am

*Swoon!* Loving this variation, Ken – I’ll take 2!

Barbara Bakes November 23, 2010 at 8:51 am

What a spectacular Thanksgiving dessert. Love the contrasting colors!

Maria @ Scandifoodie November 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm

These look so gorgeous! I love spiced pumpkin desserts and that crust sounds so perfect for this!

Jen Laceda November 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Ken!

This is one recipe I’m bookmarking! I’m not a big fan of pumpkin (never was), but this one looks like something I might want to try! Pumpkins and chocolate? Who wouldn’t fall for that? Yum!

Jamie December 2, 2010 at 6:06 am

Wow! I am speechless, Ken! Stunning! The fluffy rich mousse in the chocolate shells is divine. Ooh forget Mac King you are the baking king!

the urban baker December 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm

wow…what a perfect crust. is there really anything better than chocolate and pumpkin?

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