spiced chestnut pumpkin tart

chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream
chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream
chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream

If there is a film which I’ve watched a number of times, it’s probably the original 90s Jumanji, about a board game come to life. Growing up, movie nights meant a brisk walk to the neighbourhood convenience store. On one side of the cash, against papered up windows, there were a few wire shelves of video cassettes in protective plastic sleeves. It was not the broadest or particularly updated selection. With only a few kids films, I always chose the only one I recognized, one which I had seen in school for Halloween (this is as close as relevant we’re getting for the recipe so make note). In other words, I watched Jumanji a whole lot.

There were two convenience stores in the neighbourhood I grew up in, though now they’re both gone. When I think back, I am surprised at how they kind of did play some role in my childhood – a source of after school snacks, a place to drop off lost keys at the lost-and-found, and that small movie corner which defined the entertainment available to me and the neighbourhood. Maybe in some ways it was a common denominator for the community – yes there was a big Blockbuster a twenty minute walk away which held dozens of copies of new releases, but for those last minute spurious movie impulses, the convenience store shelves were most convenient. It makes me wish I remembered what else was there (excuse my tunnel vision for Jumanji). But maybe every other child in the neighbhourhood also watched Jumanji on repeat? Maybe. The fact that Jumanji was nearly always on the shelf probably meant that not so many people were renting video cassettes any more, anyways.

chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream
chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream
chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream
chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream

Halloween = pumpkins and Halloween = Jumanji and so Jumanji = pumpkins and so here is a pumpkin recipe. This is a riff on pumpkin pie (quite literally as a I referenced the pumpkin pie recipe on the pumpkin puree tin while making this) but a sort of ambiguously autumnal version made with chestnut puree and a gently infused spiced milk. Plus, a kinako (roasted soybean powder) cream ring which I did on a whim, but loved – it complements the squash and chestnuts so well. (Maybe try a dusting of kinako on your pumpkin pie?)

chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream

spiced chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream

  • Servings: eight inch tart
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Adapted, vaguely, from the pumpkin pie recipe on the pumpkin puree tin.

special equipment: 8-inch fluted tart tin

infused milk

  • 100g milk
  • 100g heavy cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 green cardamom pods, cracked
  • pinch peppercorns
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 slice of fresh ginger

pastry

  • 210g flour, half all-purpose and half whole-wheat
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 115g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg

filling

  • 125g chestnut puree (pure chestnut puree; not creme de marron)
  • 125g pumpkin puree
  • 40g maple syrup
  • 7g granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 75g eggs (1 1/2 large eggs)
  • 180g infused milk

to serve

  • 120g whipped cream
  • 4g kinako (optional)
  • garnishes – salted roasted squash seeds and sliced roasted chestnuts

For the infused milk, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and set aside to steep for 30 minutes. Pass the milk through a sieve to remove the spices before using.

For the pastry, place the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and process until the butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the egg and process until the dough comes together – it will take about 30 seconds.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and let soften on the counter for about 10-15 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until about 3mm thick or your desired thickness. Trim into a rough circle, about 11″ in diametre. Drape over an 8″ tart tin and press into all the corners and up the sides. Trim any excess and patch any tears (it’s a delicate pastry so it may happen, but it’s easy to fix!).

Cover and place in the fridge to chill completely.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Dock the bottom of the tart crust with a fork. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the crust is crisp, but still pale. Set aside and begin making the filling.

For the filling, lower the heat to 325F. Press the chestnut puree through a fine sieve to make sure it is smooth, then cream the chestnut puree and pumpkin puree together in a bowl. Add the maple syrup, sugar and salt and mix until combined, then whisk in the eggs. Lastly, blend in the infused milk.

Pour the filling into the partially baked crust (if not all of it fits, you can bake the leftover in a muffin cup lined with a paper liner). Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until only the centre jiggles and an inserted knife is removed clean.

Let cool, then chill completely.

Finish with the garnishes. Whip the cream and kinako in a bowl until billowy (if you don’t have kinako, feel free to substitute a bit of sugar and vanilla extract instead). Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a petal tip and pipe cream along the edge of the tart. Sprinkle with roasted squash seeds and slices of roasted chestnut.

pumpkin basque cheesecake

pumpkin spice basque cheesecake

It always takes me a while (and sometimes years) to get around to posting a recipe on the blog. So it is perhaps lucky that Canadian Thanksgiving comes about a month before that of our neighbours in the south so I can leisurely post thematically-related recipes that appear quite timely.

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speculoos & pumpkin cheesecake

speculoos-spiced pumpkin cheesecake that’s just as much pumpkin pie as it is a cheesecake and plenty of halloween anticipation

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The story of how I ended up with ninety chocolate bars to myself last Halloween begins with my quiet Halloweens growing up. The location of my childhood house, alongside a traffic-heavy multilane road, plus the aged demographic of our neighbours, did not make for an enticing trick-or-treating route. A good Halloween was five to six trick-or-treaters at our door.

Given my history of Halloweens a bit wanting, I brought years of pent-up anticipation with me when I moved to a dense residential neighbourhood last year, a block south of a high school and north of an elementary.

Our location was perfect, I reasoned, perfect for attracting trick-or-treators

In the week leading up to the date, I fantasized about streams of eager trick-or-treaters at the door, marvelling at costumed toddlers, and the excitement of a lively evening with the doorbell constantly ringing in the background. No more dull nights spent waiting for perhaps just one more!

Obviously I had to be prepared for the swarm of trick-or-treaters about to descend. And that meant having at least 90 chocolate bars at hand (I pondered the boxes of 150 on the adjacent shelf but decided I should probably be somewhat reserved in case the turnout was a bit on the low side).

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pumpkin pasties (sort of)

some sort-of pumpkin pasties – maybe more accurately pumpkin turnovers – and thinking back to the Harry Potter days

pumpking turnoverspumpking turnovers

I felt like I grew up alongside Harry Potter. Upon reflection I was wondering about the literal accuracy of that statement, so I mapped out my and Harry’s ages using the book publishing dates. There is a bit of truth to it, albeit perhaps less than I had imagined: he was quite a bit older, with the series concluding when I was still quite young (my entry into the fandom only coincided with the publishing of the last few books), though given that sometimes it would take a few years for him to age one year, I caught up a couple years.

The reason I was still able engage with the series at the time was because my older sister read the books to me (she more properly grew up alongside the books!). Despite that, I still remember very well what a longitudinal presence an ongoing book series can take – aching, after you finish the latest book, dulling over a year or few of waiting, and the beating return of anticipation as the next release date approaches. It felt like a special time, and something that I’m not sure I’ll see again: not just the anticipation about a new book coming out, but also the camaraderie that accompanied it as so many others were waiting with you.

My impression that I had grown up alongside Harry Potter throughout my childhood speaks to the enormity of the series’ presence. Finishing each successive book (irregardless of publishing date) felt like a milestone in my own life – and it’s easy to start correlating my own growth and development to his when the books map along Harry’s life for seven years.

I’ve since read the series over several times and they are just as good as the first time through, when the reading was a rushed flipping of pages, while also unabashedly savoured in the way that reading aloud facilitates.

Every time I noticed something new and charming in what she’s written – and of course, the mentions of food always pop out, including one of the exchanges to open up the first book:

“Go on, have a pasty,” said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s pasties, cakes, and sweets (the sandwiches lay forgotten).

Continue reading “pumpkin pasties (sort of)”