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Pumpkin Pie Mini-Tarts with the BEST Shortbread Crusts

Sneak Preview: These incredibly cute Pumpkin Pie Mini-Tarts are essentially miniature pumpkin pies with the filling tucked into a homemade buttery shortbread crust.

Do you have that person at your holiday dinner that asks for a small piece of every dessert available? They will be excited to see these little tarts and you will be grateful you don’t have to cut messy little slivers.

PUMPKIN PIE MINI-TARTS with whipped cream on top

Recipe Inspiration

Think of these Pumpkin Pie Mini-Tarts as the “100-calorie snack” edition of the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

I’m not saying each tart is only 100 calories. Calculating calories on desserts seems rude, don’t you think?

However, each tart is a lot less than an eighth of a piece of a regular 9-inch pumpkin pie. I can get 15-16 tarts out of the same ingredients with some filling leftover.

The pie filling is my adaptation of Libby’s recipe on the back of the pumpkin can. 

Kitchen Notes Re: Tart Crusts

If you are an amateur cook, the crusts can be a bit challenging at first. I’ve been making pie crusts all my life, but still, the first ones I make of every batch look less than perfect. (It may be a subconscious thing. I love eating the rejects.)

You might want to practice making them ahead of time depending on the importance of the occasion. The taste is worth it.

If creating your own crusts scares you, buy mini-tart shells from the grocery store or online. They may not be as fresh as homemade, but they will be beautiful.

Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust

I highly recommend these silicone molds for making mini-tarts. Nothing sticks to them, making it easy to extricate the baked tart from the mold. I prefer the flower shapes over the cupcake-liner look.

FAQ

Can I freeze the tart shells ahead of time?

Yes. Make the dough and shape crusts ahead of time. Freeze up to a month. Don’t thaw the crusts before you bake them. Straight into the oven from the freezer is best.

Can I use a muffin tin as a mold for the tart shells?

You can. It’s more difficult to manipulate the dough to fit down into each cavity. Trimming the dough at the top to make a neat finish is especially challenging.

How do you get mini-tarts out of the pan?

You can avoid the whole issue by using silicone molds. Tip them over and the mini-tart will fall right out.

If using some some sort of metal mold or cupcake pans, spray the pan with a flour and oil mixture like “Baker’s Joy” before you add the crust. That stuff is magic!

What else can I do with the silicone molds?

Use them for cupcakes or muffins. I think this is the original purpose.

Besides tarts, I use mine to make frozen egg whites. It’s so much easier than using an ice cube tray, especially when you only have one or two egg whites to freeze.

This is how I do it: Place one egg white into each silicone mold. Freeze.

When frozen, pop the egg white into a plastic bag and store in the freezer until needed. Beats freezing them in an ice cube tray all day long (or saving them in the fridge where they don’t stay fresh for long.)


Why are you wearing gloves when making the crusts?

I always wear gloves when I make any kind of pie crust or flaky biscuits. They protect the dough by providing a barrier between my body heat and the tiny flakes of butter. Of course, you can make the crusts without them, but work fast so as not to warm the dough.

How to shape shortbread crusts:

I hope the following tutorial will give you some confidence, but honestly, nothing substitutes for practice.

Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
Form dough into a cylinder.
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
Slice roll into 15-16 equally-sized discs.
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
Lay one slice in the middle of a piece of plastic wrap. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap.
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough until the circumference is about 1/2 to 3/4 inch greater than the circumference of your tart cup. Lay the tart cup upside down on top of it to check.
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
Peel plastic wrap off of the top.
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tart-how to make tart shell
Flip the flattened disc and remove the remaining layer of plastic wrap.
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
Press dough into the tart cup with your fingers. If it tears, “squish” it back together. If it pleats, use your fingers to press the excess dough down smooth.
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
The goal is uniform thickness throughout so it will bake evenly.
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
Trim crust with a sharp knife to make a smooth edge. Place the finished cup in the freezer until hard.
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
To keep the crust from bubbling up in the middle, cut aluminum foil into small squares. Non-stick foil is best. Use fingers to mold the foil to the inside of tart making sure the top edge is also covered to prevent over-browning.

How many Pumpkin Pie Mini Tarts will this recipe make?

How many tarts you get out of this recipe will depend on the size of your tart cups.

I can get 15-16 out of this recipe with some filling to spare. Bake the leftover filling in a small glass dish and add it to yogurt for a yummy treat!


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    Paula

    p.s. Questions? Email me: paula at saladinajar.com.

    Yield: 15 mini-tarts

    Pumpkin Pie Mini Tarts with a Homemade Crust

    Pumpkin Pie Mini Tarts with a Homemade Crust

    These Pumpkin Pie Mini-Tarts are easy to carry to Grandma's house or put them on your dessert buffet. The small size makes them easy to grab and eat.

    Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
    Cook Time 20 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes

    Ingredients

    Tart Crust:

    • 1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
    • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), chilled
    • 1 egg yolk (from a large egg)
    • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

    Pie Filling:

    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
    • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
    • 1 (15 ounces) can pure pumpkin
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 3/4 cup milk

    Instructions

    Crust:

    1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Cut butter into 8 slices and add to flour, pulsing several times until mixture resembles oatmeal. Add egg yolk mixed with cream. Pulse until all ingredients are moistened. Then allow machine to run a few seconds until dough starts to stick together. (Add additional drops of cream if dough seems too dry.) Press dough into a roll like refrigerated cookie dough. Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes.
    2. Spray molds generously with Baker's Secret or something like it. (Baker's Secret is an aerosol spray that mixes flour and oil.) If using silicone molds, no greasing is necessary.
    3. Slice roll of dough into 15-16 pieces. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough between two pieces of plastic wrap into a circle slightly larger than tart molds. Press into mold with fingers, being careful to keep thickness consistent. Use a knife to trim off any extra at the top. I usually have enough scraps to make another tart or two. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, overnight, or up to a month.
    4. Place frozen tart shells onto a cookie sheet and press a small square of foil down into each crust that molds to shape of crust and covers the edge. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

    Pie Filling:

    1. While crusts are pre-baking, combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl.
    2. Whisk eggs and pumpkin together in another bowl. Add spice mixture and whisk well. Add cream and milk and whisk until smooth.
    3. Optional: Pour pie filling through a medium sieve for maximum smoothness.
    4. Fill each pre-baked tart taking care to put as much filling into each tart as possible without pouring in too much and making a mess.
    5. Bake in 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of your tarts) or until filling is set. Allow to cool on a rack. Chill before serving.

    Notes

    If using a muffin pan for tarts, you don't need to pre-bake the crust--especially if the pan has a dark coating. Pour filling into frozen crusts and bake for 20 minutes or until filling is set.

    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    15 mini-tarts

    Serving Size:

    1 mini-tart

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 201Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 177mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 1gSugar: 12gProtein: 3g

    Did you make this recipe?

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      jenny

      Monday 3rd of July 2017

      would like to know if you can switch out sweet potato for pumpkin in this recipe

      Paula

      Wednesday 5th of July 2017

      Jenny, I haven't tried it. Not sure. paula

      Rebekah

      Wednesday 16th of December 2015

      I tried making these with silicone molds and they completely stuck. Waste of time and ingredients.

      Evelyn

      Thursday 8th of January 2015

      If we are going to bake at the same day or time, do we have to freeze it before baking? Or, should be freeze for 30 míns before pre baking?

      Regards; From Iceland

      Paula

      Sunday 6th of January 2019

      Yes. Freezing keeps them from shrinking too much.

      Cynthia

      Tuesday 5th of August 2014

      Can these be made and then frozen? I'm thinking they would be great for make ahead lunch desserts

      Paula

      Wednesday 6th of August 2014

      Cynthia, I have not tried freezing these but I'm skeptical. Cooked custard filling of any kind tends to separate when frozen. You can freeze the unbaked crusts ahead of time for sure but once you put the filling in and bake them, you have about a day to eat them.

      kathleen

      Thursday 28th of November 2013

      Hi, thanks for the info... going to try these this year and found your site to tell me the length of time..Happy Thanksgiving