Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts
What age is too old?
This is the question I’m faced with more and more frequently.
For example, I secretly love Harry Styles, but am I just way too old to admit that? I want to buy a chokers and lace up shirts, but wait, didn’t I wear those twenty years ago!? And then what about my secret stash of Mary-Kate and Ashley movies? AM I TOO OLD FOR ALL OF THIS? PLEASE INFORM.
I’m stuck in this purgatory age known as 28 where (to quote the great philosopher Britney Spears) I’m not a girl, not yet a woman, and I have no gauge of where my awkwardness fits in society.
Ok, I can already hear you rolling your eyes at me, and that’s fine. You can judge me. You can hate me for getting antsy about nearing my thirties, or you can laugh at the immature desires of my old, wrinkly heart. But I’m just being honest here, ok?
This past weekend, we traveled with friends to Atlanta for a football game and 36 kid-free hours of food and shopping. Following an afternoon of day-drinking, pre-dinner cocktails, and a few poured bottles of wine throughout dinner, I was feeling pretty fancy. And to be clear, by fancy, I mean Ready. To. Dance.
We attempted to crash a wedding at our hotel, but security swiftly asked us to leave (#proudmoments). Instead, we decided to walk to a club around the corner. Brett paid our cover, the thick velvet curtain was drawn back for us, and for a minute, I was 21 again. Yes, in my mind’s eye, I was young, fresh-faced, sans stretch marks or nursing boobs, and for all intents and purposes, a BABE.
Well, that moment lasted about as long as it took for me to get to the dance floor, because then the question hit me: Am I too old?
I am choosing to believe that the age to enter this club had to have been, like, 14 because some of these kids looked downright preteen. These were tiny, infant children, playing pretend with their mom and dad’s stash of Bud Light and cocktail straws. That has to be it. Otherwise, the alternative is that I was the old one.
Well, I danced. I danced and jumped and sang and did a bunch of other fistpump/pelvic thrust movements because when you’re old, you don’t have time to practice your moves in the mirror of your bathroom anymore. The DJ amused us by playing an assortment of hits from the 90’s, and at one point, Brett and I were booty dancing (do we still call it that?) and yell-singing the six or seven words we were able to make out of “It’s Tricky” by Run D.M.C. I have no doubt in my mind that those fetus humans we danced alongside went home and told their friends about the crusty old people who humiliated themselves doing the hand-jive in the middle of a struggling dance floor, but honestly, if you can’t dance when you’ve been casually drinking for 12 hours, WHEN CAN YOU DANCE!?!
The moral of this story is that growing up is hard to do, but if you manage to dance your way through it with your friends, you’ll make it out with not much more than a dull headache and a few blurry photos to fondly laugh at later.
I’ll be 29 in a few weeks and I’m considering these pumpkin cheesecake tarts as an ode to my earlier years. They’re cute, petite, and wildly delicious. I shared them with a friend who said they would make a terrific alternative to the usual Thanksgiving desserts, but honestly, life is short and we really don’t need an excuse to indulge in delicious desserts. The time for dancing and pumpkin cheesecake tarts is now.
The recipe for these pumpkin cheesecake tarts is adapted from my bruleed key lime pies, so if you’ve tried those you know how simple these are to make! We start by pressing a shortbread crust into the bottom of 4″ tart pans. I used my favorite shortbread crust from these blueberry lemon bars. The filling is sweet and creamy, similar to a cheesecake, with swirls of pumpkin and all of our favorite fall flavors. After a quick bake in the oven, the tarts are cooled to room temp before being topped with toasted hazelnuts. Sound awesome? Yeah, I thought so.
You can make these pumpkin cheesecake tarts ahead of time and warm slightly just before eating.Whipped cream isn’t mandatory, but I really can’t think of a reason not to go for it; a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg in that whipped cream would be magical. I’ve also tried adding the hazelnuts directly to the shortbread crust, and let me just say that I was NOT disappointed. If you don’t have mini tart pans, you can make this in one larger 10″ tart pan (or maybe even a jelly roll pan as a bar??) as well! You will most definitely have a little extra dough and filling, though, so I recommend making only 2/3 of the recipe and lengthening your bake times.
I hope you give these pumpkin cheesecake tarts a shot. I also hope you weren’t at that bar secretly laughing at my dance moves.
Cheers to you and happy Monday!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2-1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1- 8 ounces block of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, divided
- 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, divided
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree
- 1-1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup of toasted hazelnuts
- Whipped Cream (if desired)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 6- 4" tart pans with removable bottoms with baking spray and set aside.
- Cream together the butter and sugar, about 1-2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla. Add the flour and salt all at once and stir on low speed until large crumbles begin to form.
- Divide the dough between the 6 tart pans and lightly press the dough out evenly on the bottom and up the sides. Place on a sheet pan and in the freezer for the dough to set up for about 10 minutes.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Once removed from the oven, carefully press out the bottom or any areas where the dough may have gotten droopy in the pans. Be sure to do this while it is still warm from the oven! Set aside while you prepare the filling.
- Cream the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Add 1/2 of the can of sweetened condensed milk and beat briefly to combine, scraping the bowl as needed. Add 1 egg, the vanilla, and salt, beating together to combine. Set aside 1/2 cup of this mixture in a medium sized bowl.
- To that 1/2 cup of cream cheese mixture, add the pumpkin, the rest of the sweetened condensed milk, an egg and the egg yolk, and the pumpkin pie spice. Beat to combine, scraping the bowl as needed.
- Pour 1/4 cup of the pumpkin mixture in each of the cooled tart shells, and drizzle 3 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture over top. Drag a knife through the filling to create swirls, if desired.
- Place each tart pan on a sheet pan and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the outer edge of the tart has set well. Allow to cool briefly on the counter for about 30 minutes and then place in the fridge to cool completely. Serve each tart with a sprinkling of hazelnuts and a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.
- Be sure the cream cheese is room temperature! If it is still cold while beating, little clumps will form in your batter and you'll be forced to whisk it through a fine mesh strainer prior to pouring in your tart shells.
- You can add your hazelnuts directly to your crust by finely chopping them and stirring into the dough clumps. You may have a little extra dough if you use this method, but I totally approve eating little handfuls of it raw. (gasp!)