The best issue of MSL, by far, is the October issue. The Good (and Bad) Things always have amazingly creepy and easy things you can do for Halloween decorations, and the rest of the issue is just packed with fun ideas. Their staff must live for that issue. I especially love it because it follows the decorating issue, which is my least favorite.
Since they’re running the 15 Years of… series this year, the October issue had 15 Years of Pumpkin ideas. When I saw the jack-o-lantern pumpkin tartlets, I knew I had to make them. So here’s my rundown.
Sunday morning (11 am-noon): Made the dough. Making dough in a mini-Cuisinart is far better than making dough without a mini-Cuisinart, but it is far more labor-intensive than using a full-size food processor. After mixing the dough in about six batches (and ending up with some sizable butter lumps–possibly because I was chatting on the phone while cutting the butter), it was blended into a coarse meal, held together with ice water, and ready to be formed into discs and put into the fridge for two hours.
Sunday afternoon (1:45 am): Realized that everyone was supposed to be at my house in 15 mins to start knitting. Abandoned plans to make the tartlets for the Sunday knitters and instead make them for the Monday knitters.
Monday morning (7:45-8:20 am): Roll out dough. The recipe called for two 1/8″-thick 6″ diameter circles of dough. Put one in, chill for 30 mins, put the other in, chill for 30 mins. By the time I rolled out the second round of 6 circles and cut out all the jack-o-lantern features, it had been about 30 mins. Or as close enough as I was going to wait. I’m hoping the two layers will make the crust extra flakey. We’ll see.
Monday afternoon (4:00-5:30 pm): After getting excused from jury duty, I went home and made the filling, which was easy peasey and very creamy (possibly because of the half cup of cream). Baked the tartlets, baked the features, and let it all cool.
Monday evening (5:55-6:00 pm): Put the faces on the pumpkin tartlets! Spooky and tasty! Well, I’ll post the stitch bitchers’ feedback after we eat them tonight.
Final analysis: Like anything involving dough that has to chill for 2 hours, it’s better to make this a multi-day project. My original plan of making the dough Friday night would have been perfect. Baking just doesn’t work as well when you rush it, and knowing that I had limited time Sunday morning didn’t help the dough.
I cooked the tartlets a bit longer than the recipe called for (about 33 mins) and wish I had cooked the features a little less than the recipe called for (next time, I’d try 7 mins).
One strange thing, though. The recipe said “makes 12 tartlets,” yet it only called for 6 tart pans. I only made 6, and I probably had enough leftover dough and filling for about three more.
Addendum: The tartlets were a huge hit. The crust wasn’t quite as crispy as I hoped it would be. In retrospect, I should have rolled the dough out a bit thinner (I knew that I hadn’t rolled it out quite thin enough). The filling was really flavorful and the perfect texture. Sometimes pumpkin pies are too–pureed or something for me. I just don’t like the texture of the pumpkin. But this filling was great, and I wouldn’t hesitate to make this recipe again.
After a heavy meal (like the yummy herbed spaetzle Annie made and Katie’s delicious salad with avocado), I recommend limiting yourself to half a tartlet and drinking a glass of milk with it. Perfect.