I love Thanksgiving.
But can we talk about the obvious lack of chocolate in the typical lineup of Thanksgiving desserts?
I mean, pumpkin, pecan, apple, and cranberry are great and all, but fruits, nuts, and gourds do not a satisfying dessert make. Seriously, when did Thanksgiving desserts get so… vanilla? I cry foul. Give me chocolate, or give me death. (Would you like a side of cliché with that? You’re getting it anyway.)
This deeply chocolate and yet festively-flavored tart is my kind of dessert. Perfect for when you want something seasonally-appropriate for your holiday table but aren’t willing to give up your precious chocolate.
The filling is not overly sweet; in fact, the only sweetness comes from the pumpkin and a bit of brown sugar in the crust, allowing the intense and bitter chocolate filling to engulf your tastebuds. Dark chocolate fans, this one is for you.
As intense as it is, the tart is surprisingly light and almost mousse-like in texture, the pumpkin lightening the chocolate in much the same way a whipped cream or whipped egg whites might. Typically with chocolate tarts like this (this tart cherry tart, for example) the chocolate is so rich and intense that a few bites is usually enough to satiate your appetite.
Although some may argue that this unexpectedly light consistency and lack of sweetness is a bad thing, as there’s nothing stopping you from going back for a second or third slice. Which is exactly what you’ll want to do, it’s that good.
Full disclosure: I stole the decoration idea after seeing Amy’s instagram photo, just executed with cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar. The tart itself is stunningly simple on its own (and you could certainly serve it as is) but I felt it needed a little ‘wow’ to make it suitable for the occasion.
To accomplish this autumn leaves effect, I printed maple leaf shapes onto cardstock and cut them out with an X-acto knife (hello, flashbacks to college design class). I then arranged the shapes on top of the tart and dusted over them with cocoa powder (OXO’s Baker’s Dusting Wand is perfect for this task). The top of the tart is firm enough once it’s cool that the cardstock doesn’t stick, and once the stencils are removed (tweezers give you more delicate control than chubby fingers), the result is a stunning fall presentation. It’s the perfect finishing touch that makes this tart look as good as it tastes.
This recipe is a stark contrast to last week’s savory squash tart, though they both contain squash in a tart shell, they couldn’t be more different. Just goes to show you how versatile these fall gourds can really be… how many other vegetables can transition from breakfast to dinner to dessert with such ease?
The crust is made from crushed vanilla wafers, ground pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I love adding ground nuts to my crusts, it gives them more complexity and depth of flavor. With the pumpkin in the filling and the pecans in the crust, you are almost getting the best of every Thanksgiving dessert in one: a little pumpkin, a little pecan, and a whole lot of chocolate.
I recently purchased a basic tart tamper that makes for a perfectly packed crust. But I’ve also found that a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup works just as well.
Bittersweet Chocolate Pumpkin Tart
The best of every Thanksgiving dessert in one decadent tart: a little pumpkin and pecan and a whole lot of chocolate.
- 8 ounces vanilla wafer cookies
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup pumpkin purée
- 9 ounces bittersweet (70%) chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon bourbon (or substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Place cookies and pecans in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground and no large chunks remain. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs. Add sugar, cinnamon, and salt and pulse until incorporated. Drizzle melted butter over top, then pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened.
- Dump crumb mixture into a 9-inch-round tart pan with a removable bottom. Firmly press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or crust is set and just starting to puff. Remove from oven and let cool slightly (if you have big bubbles you can gently press them back down using a tamper while the crust is still warm).
- Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F.
- For filling, heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan over low heat until it just starts to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate, gently whisking until melted (the heat from the cream and the residual heat from the pan should be enough to melt the chocolate).
- Meanwhile, whisk eggs together with pumpkin and spices in a bowl. Whisk in a 1/4 cup or so of the warm chocolate mixture, then another 1/4 cup, whisking until mixture is slightly warm to the touch. Pour into saucepan with the rest of the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in bourbon or vanilla.
- Pour filling into cooled tart shell and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until center is set and just barely jiggly. Place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Slice and serve at room temperature. The tart will keep in the refrigerator for a few days after baking, just let it come to room temperature before serving.
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
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Any suggestions for making mini tartlets? I have 4 inch tart tins.
Does the tart really cook at 250? I’ve had it in for 35 minutes and it’s still very liquid. It seems a low temp? Thank you.
I love this tart! I’ve made it a couple times and plan to make it again this year. I’m wondering if you’ve ever made it ahead of time and frozen it?
The crust could definitely be made ahead of time, but not sure how well the ganache would hold up texture-wise. It may be ok, but you’d definitely have some condensation on the top after thawing.
Hi! Do you think I could use an 11 inch pan instead of 9in?! That is the size of pan I happen to already have on hand. Thank you!
You’ll need to scale up the recipe if so. Google around, there are some great baking pan volume charts around that’ll help with conversion (I’d guess 1.5x or 2x the recipe).
What would you substitite for the nuts in the crust? My kids have nut allergies. Just increase the amt of wafers?
You can use any kind of nut (not sure if they’re allergic to all nuts or just tree nuts) but you can definitely leave the nuts out entirely too; just use all cookie crumbs. I like the nuts because they add a bit of depth and texture, but they’re certainly not crucial to the recipe’s success. Enjoy!!
Made this for our thanksgiving feast! It was absolutely delectable! Thank you so much for sharing. It will definitely be repeated for years to come!
That makes me so happy to hear!! :)
I have never made any kind of tart before but I am excited to make this for my family at Thanksgiving. I do have a question:
Can I substitute another 1/4 c of heavy cream instead of using whole milk?
I’m not sure if it would alter the consistency any.
Sure, it’ll be a little richer but that’s never a bad thing. :)
You are after my own heart. I found this while searching Pinterest for Chocolate Thanksgiving desserts because I lament the lack of chocolate at Thanksgiving. So I’m featuring this at my weekly link party as my chocolate feature. Party opens up at 8PM Eastern tonight!
Oh my, this looks delicious. Thanks for the recipes. Adding to my Thanksgiving dessert buffet!
Great! Thank you for the fast reply. :)
Hi! Super late here but is there a substitute for the vanilla wafer cookies? I don’t think they sell the kind you used here in the UK.
You could use any cookies that will grind up into a fine crumb. I think a shortbread-like cookie would work just fine!
chocolate powder instead of solid?can i
Yes please! There’s always a need for more chocolate ?
I never questioned the lack of chocolate at Thanksgiving until a friend made chocolate pudding pie for a Friendsgiving in college and now it seems mandatory! This is the best of all worlds!
Oh my gosh, this looks divine!!! Might have to substitute my usually pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving!
Love this! In australia we dont have pumpkin puree in a can, would this work if i made and then used mashed pumpkin? Or do you have another suggestion?
I used to live in Australia and it is true- outside of fancy British/American shops you can’t find canned pumpkin. I made my own by roasting and pureeing pumpkin. If anything it is even more authentic,!
Yes, you can definitely use fresh puree! Do be sure you strain it well as excess moisture might not play well with the chocolate.
I love thanksgiving too. :)
This tart looks and sounds incredible. The combination of pumpkin and chocolate sounds like a match made in heaven.
And your photography is superb. <3
I love the presentation / stencil magic – but even more so the flavor combo. I think pumpkin and dark chocolate are made for one another – earthy and dark-rich perfection.
wow, this tart is absolutely beautiful! And I bet that crust it to die for! You are totally right about Tgiving lacking in the chocolate department!
That look so so yummy!! I would eat that whole tart!!
Oh, man! Chocolate and pumpkin is such a fantastic combo! The tart looks fabulous and I’m sure my dad would looooove it – he’s such a chocolate addict.
Praise God that you love Thanksgiving because this tart creation looks UH-MAZING!!!
OH OH, and I just have to say that I love how you paired chocolate and pumpkin. I think they are a match made for each other!! I have a pumpkin chocolate chip cupcake that is killer.
This tart looks incredible! I wish I was eating this right now!
I love that you brought a little designer’s touch to this tart! It is always worth taking that extra step and go for the wow factor! I am going to suggest this for our Friendsgiving especially since we are a bunch of designers. We are always down with going against the norm a bit on Thanksgiving!
Oh I’m so with you on the chocolate thing. For me, dessert isn’t dessert unless there is chocolate. And Thanksgiving is often sadly devoid of chocolate. I practiced making a pumpkin-chocolate swirl tart this weekend, but I must admit it didn’t turn out nearly as gorgeous as yours. I need those leaf decorations to jazz it up!
Lindsay, this tart is gorgeous!!!
This tart looks 100% perfect! I adore pumpkin and chocolate together and your leaf design trick is brilliant! Haha, I’d love a side of cliché and I totally agree that Thanksgiving MUST have chocolate!
Wow, this sounds delicious. I love that it’s not overly sweet. And the decoration came out perfect, so pretty.