Pumpkin pie is a favorite tradition for all ages at Thanksgiving. We've made these pumpkin tarts special with a little cream cheese to give them a texture similar to that of cheesecake. Loaded with pumpkin and tasty spices, they're a hit with kids. You can certainly use premade pastry dough for the crusts, or even ask a baker for prebaked tart shells. But if you'd prefer to use homemade, this dough is the perfect base for sweet or savory tarts.
There is something so special about being served a little pie that's all your own. Your children will love the taste of the pumpkin tart and crispy marshmallow on top.”
To make the dough, in the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, salt and sugar and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse only until the butter is the size of small peas or oatmeal flakes. (Overworking the dough will result in a tough, chewy crust.)
In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk with 8 tablespoons of the ice water and stir to combine. Add the mixture to the butter and flour and pulse 10 times. Remove the lid of the processor and press some of the dough together between your fingers. If it sticks together, it's done. If not, add up to 2 more tablespoons of water, pulsing 5-10 times between each addition, until the dough sticks together when pinched.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, using your hands to push it together and create one large disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick, turning it frequently to ensure it's not sticking to the counter. If it is, place a little more flour under the sticky spots. Cut six circles of pie dough that are about 1 inch larger than the tins. Lift and place the dough rounds gently in the tins, laying them in the bottom without stretching the dough. Use your fingers to press the dough into the ridges, then use a rolling pin or sharp knife over the top of each tin to cut off any excess.
Prick the bottom of each unbaked crust once or twice with a fork. Transfer them to a baking sheet and chill for 5-10 minutes. While they're chilling, cut six rounds of parchment paper with a diameter 1-2 inches larger than that of your tart pans. Place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of each chilled crust, fill it with dried beans or rice, and bake for 10 minutes, until the tarts are lightly golden. Grasp the edges of the parchment paper and lift out the beans or rice, then continue baking the empty tart shells until the bottoms are just golden and cooked, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes on a baking sheet.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
While the tart shells bake, make the filling. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed until creamy, scraping down the sides once or twice if necessary. Add the pumpkin, vanilla and spices and beat to combine. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated.
Divide the filling evenly between the six cooled tart shells. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the filling is just set and the crust is nicely browned. Allow the tarts to cool in their tins on a rack. When completely cool, remove each tart from its tin and place on a plate. Place 1-2 marshmallows on top of each tart. Use your crème brulée torch to brown the marshmallows, or simply place the tarts on a cookie sheet under the broiler for 30-60 seconds.
Sprinkle with candied nuts if desired and serve immediately.