Autumn baking,  Baking Recipes,  Christmas & holidays,  Pies & Tarts

Of pumpkin pie and spiderwebs

I have already resigned myself to the fact that celebrating Halloween just is not in the cards as far as traditions go in our home. But because it is a fun little holiday, I like to join in by making something extra special from my kitchen. This year however, I find I did not have the time for a Halloween baking extravaganza. It’s just been that kind of year. I got completely thrown off my timeline after the big move to the self-hosted site and with the slew of other responsibilities in the real world, I feel like I’ve been playing a game of catch-up since August.

Anyway, I decided to make something simpler instead this year, but I wanted to make something I’ve never eaten before. As I was browsing through Halloween recipes to make, I saw this from my Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts book and knew right away that this was the perfect opportunity to finally get a taste of pumpkin pie! I’ve made several pumpkin recipes already but never just pure unadulterated pumpkin pie. Its colour and flavours are perfect for the fall-like weather we are now experiencing here (or in the case of other parts of the world, actual fall weather) and it has that perfect touch of Halloween on top.

Ironically, despite my mission to find a “quick” recipe, this one ended up becoming a little more time-consuming. It requires a make ahead step for the crust, plus time allotments for refrigeration. It has several components, the easiest of which to make is of course the filling which you basically throw into a bowl and mix.

I distributed the work into several days for this recipe. The crust was made on a Thursday morning before work, and all it takes is less than 15 minutes. I didn’t even bother taking out my mixer, using a combination of pastry cutter and wooden spoon to get my dough together. I made the actual pie on a Saturday bright and early, letting it bake while I took a leisurely breakfast before going to work. To fully set the filling, the tart needs to be refrigerated, and so the web was made later that evening when I came home.

And maybe I need to reevaluate my definition of “quick”, but I really loved how this tart turned out. Our tastebuds aren’t accustomed to the full pumpkin flavour, so thankfully this tart has an equal layer of chocolate alongside the perfectly spiced pumpkin that makes it really good. Perfect chocolate-pumpkin symmetry aside, The chocolate crust is very mild in flavour, allowing the pumpkin to assert itself in the tastebuds a little more.

I did find the portions for the recipe bizarre. (And I’m not sure if anybody has encountered the same problem, but please do enlighten me in the comments section below if you have!) For a 9-inch tart tin that is about 2 inches high, the filling measurements indicated in the recipe yielded double than what my pan could hold. In hindsight, I should have either doubled my production of the chocolate crust or cut the filling in half. I have made the necessary adjustments in the recipe below.

Pumpkin Chocolate Spiderweb Tart

Our tastebuds aren't accustomed to the full pumpkin flavour, so thankfully this tart has an equal layer of chocolate alongside the perfectly spiced pumpkin that makes it really good.

makes one 10-inch tart


For the crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces 115 grams semisweet 55% chocolate, finely chopped

For the filling

  • 7.5 ounces unsweetened pumpkin puree *
  • 3/8 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

For the topping

  • 2 ounces 57 grams semisweet 55% chocolate, finely chopped


Make the crust

  • 1. Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a bowl. Add butter; with an electric mixer on low speed (or using a wooden spoon), beat until butter is the size of small peas, about 5 minutes.
  • 2. Add egg; mix just until ingredients form a dough. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 2 days.
  • 3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to just more than 1/8 inch. Press dough into bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim excess dough. Pierce bottom of shell all over with a fork. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes or up to 1 day.
  • 4. Bake shell on a parchment-lined baking sheet until dry, about 15 minutes. Immediately sprinkle the 4 ounces chocolate evenly over the crust, letting it begin to melt and smoothing it with an offset spatula.

Make the filling

  • 5. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, sour cream, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves, until smooth. Pass mixture through a fine sieve and onto the prepared crust, just to the top edge.
  • 6. Bake until filling is set, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool at least 30 minutes.

Make the topping

  • 7. Place the 2 ounces chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat chocolate until melted, stirring occasionally. Transfer chocolate to a parchment cone or resealable bag with a tiny hole cut in one corner.
  • 8. Pipe about 15 evenly spaced lines radiating from the center of the tart. Pipe curved lines around the perimeter of the tart, connecting each spoke. Continue piping curved lines, spacing them closer together as you near the center. Add decorations as desired. **
  • 9. Refrigerate tart until set, 1 hour up to 1 day.


* Because I found myself with double the filling than my tart pan can hold, in the recipe above I halved the filling versus the quantity in the original recipe.
** I used the excess tart dough to make "spiders" to decorate.
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts
Have a grand ole Halloween, everyone! And go easy on the candy! (Or save some for me, ya know?)

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