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Milk Street's Pumpkin Tart Recipe

Daniel Hautzinger
Pumpkin Tart. Photo: Courtesy Milk Street
Photo: Courtesy Milk Street

Christopher Kimball may have left America's Test Kitchen in late 2015, but now he's back on TV with his newest project, Milk Street. Although he's still focused on teaching you how to cook at home, Kimball has broadened his horizons with Milk Street, incorporating global techiniques and recipes from Asia and South America that he never used on America's Test Kitchen. Milk Street also sees him traveling across the world to expand his culinary vocabulary. In addition to the TV show, there's a magazine, a radio show, a cooking school in Boston, and online recipes and demonstration videos

Pumpkin Tart

We love pumpkin pie, but we don’t love how dense and cloying it can be. We wanted a lighter, fresher take with a pronounced pumpkin flavor. Canned pumpkin puree was a great place to start, but we intensified the flavor by giving it a quick sauté with dark brown sugar. This simmers off excess moisture and adds caramel flavors. Deglazing the pan with bourbon added a complexity we loved, but an equal amount of orange juice worked well, too. Crème fraîche gave the filling tang and richness that other dairy products couldn’t match. 

Start to finish: 4 hours 10 minutes (1 hour 10 minutes active), plus cooling time
(2½ hours plus cooling time for dough; 1 hour 40 minutes plus cooling time for tart)

Servings: 8


Pie crust. Photo: Courtesy Milk StreetPhoto: Courtesy Milk Street

Single-Crust Pie Dough

3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
159 grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons white sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
2 tablespoons sour cream

Pumpkin Tart

1 recipe single-crust pie dough
15-ounce can pumpkin puree (Don’t use canned pumpkin pie filling for this recipe. Look for unsweetened canned pumpkin puree; the only ingredient listed should be pumpkin.)
149 grams (¾ cup packed) dark brown sugar
¼ cup bourbon or orange juice
8-ounce container (1 cup) crème fraîche
3 large eggs
¼ teaspoon kosher salt


For the crust:

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch. Microwave until set, 30 to 40 seconds, stirring halfway through. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.

2. Once the cornstarch mixture has chilled, in a food processor, combine the flour, white sugar and salt, then process until mixed, about 5 seconds. Add the chilled cornstarch mixture and pulse until uniformly ground, about 5 pulses. Add the butter and sour cream, then process until the dough comes together and begins to collect around the blade, 20 to 30 seconds. Pat the dough into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours.

For the tart:

3. Heat the oven to 375°F with racks in the middle and lowest positions. On a well-floured counter, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Wrap the dough loosely around the rolling pin and transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Ease the dough into the pan, then trim the edges flush with the rim. Freeze for 15 minutes.

4. Line the chilled tart shell with heavy-duty foil and fill with enough pie weights to come three-quarters up, then place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake on the oven’s lowest rack until the edges are light golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove the foil and weights, then bake until the bottom of the crust just begins to color, another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

5. While the crust bakes, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, combine the pumpkin and brown sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thickened, dark and leaves a film on the pan, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (the yield should be 1½ cups).

6. Add the bourbon or orange juice to the skillet, return to medium-high heat and stir, scraping up any browned bits; add to the pumpkin mixture.

7. In a food processor, combine the pumpkin mixture and crème fraîche; process until smooth. Scrape down the bowl, add the eggs and salt, then process until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the filling into the warm crust, smoothing the top. Bake on the baking sheet on the middle rack until the edges start to puff and crack and the center sets, 30 to 35 minutes.

8. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.