I know that Christmas is less than 2 weeks away and we are all overwhelmed with chocolate, nuts, butter and vanilla. I am too! However, can I be allowed just one more pumpkin post? It is my savoury pumpkin tart, cute in its mini muffin form, but I would not be ashamed to serve it for any serious gathering.

It looks very nice, but could not be more simple to make, I promise. I actually made it spontaneously one day after work, collecting my inspiration from that morning. I had some leftover butternut squash in the fridge begging to be used and wanted to play around a bit with it. An idea came very fast and what makes this tart special is it’s crust. It is made of pumpkin seeds and polenta. Ha, I bet you could not see that one coming! Those two ingredients are mixed with olive oil rather than butter and together make for a spicy and crunchy pie crust that holds a butternut rose floating in creamy filling. The list of ingredients is very short and basic, but works perfectly. So here goes (probably this season’s last) butternut recipe as quickly as it was made up.

preparation time: about 15 minutes
baking time: about 35 minutes, 180°C (350 F)
makes: 4 muffin-sized tarts

Ingredients for the pie crust:

80 g (8 Tbsp) pumpkin seeds, peeled
80 g (8 Tbsp) polenta
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp salt

Ingredients for the filling:

100 ml heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch of black pepper, garlic powder and thyme
raw butternut squash*
optional: coarse salt, bread crumbs, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds… for topping

*Obviously, for this amount of ingredients, I only needed a small piece of butternut squash. I cut it in its upper part (the seedless part) into two rings/circles about 3 cm (1,2 in) thick. It will depend on the size of the squash, but these two rings covered for my 4 mini tarts.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350 F.

2. Start by making the pie crust. In a bowl of your food processor combine pumpkin seeds, polenta and salt and pulse until they are pretty finely ground. It does not have to be all powder, some crunch works great in this pie crust.

3. Add olive oil and combine everything into a crumbly, but soft mixture/paste. Divide between 4 muffin cups and using your fingers press each portion to the bottom and all the way up the sides of the muffin tin. Try to get a layer as even as possible. Set aside or put shortly in the fridge as you make the filling.

4. For the filling, combine cream and an egg yolk in a measuring cup. Add spices (feel free to add to taste) and whisk everything shortly with a fork or a small whisk.

5. Prepare the butternut squash. Take cross section cuts (circles) of the squash (see comment in the ingredients list) and peel the outer skin off with a vegetable peeler. Using the same tool continue “peeling” the pieces of squash into a long thin strip. Try to make it as continuous as possible, but if the strip breaks at some point, don’t worry, just continue peeling until you almost reach the centre and have enough to fill the tarts.

6. Now fold the strips into a spirale/rose. Wrap them tightly so they don’t fall apart, but not too tightly because the filling will not be able to reach though. Plus, they need some space between the layers to bake completely. Place the roses vertically into prepared tart shells and gently pour the filling over the top. Divide the filling equally among the four cups and sprinkle with some coarse salt, bread crumbs, pumpkin seeds or even some grated parmesan cheese.

7. Bake at 180°C/350 F for about 35 minutes. The tart shells should be set and crispy, the squash should be soft if you prick it with a fork and the filling should be set. Let the tarts rest in the muffin tin for about 10 minutes, then take them out onto a plate and enjoy the tarts with a glass of white wine. Serve with some goat cheese, créme fraiche or a side salad. I was really hungry so I just went for it, they were just delicious on their own.

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SAVOURY MINI PUMPKIN TARTS
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