Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Tartlet Appetizers
Whenever we host parties, I always like to serve bite-size appetizers. For our most recent fete, I made small savory tartlets filled with mashed pumpkin and Butter Gold potatoes. For extra creaminess, I added crumbled goat cheese along with some sesame-flavored candied walnuts for crunch.
Yields: 2 dozen puffs1 sprig thyme
3 cups pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Butter Gold potatoes (same as Yukon Gold), peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, as needed
1 cup heavy cream (as needed), warm
9 (5" x 5") squares puff pastry dough (store-bought), thawed
2/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons sesame-flavored candied walnuts (see tips), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons curly parsley, chopped
Making pumpkin purée: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove the seeds and the strings(if any). Place the cubes of pumpkin on a greased baking sheet with the sprig of thyme in the center. Sprinkle with sugar and drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 425°F for about 1 hour until soft. Let the pumpkin cool completely. Discard the thyme and transfer the pumpkin to a food processor. If you use a food mill, you could mix them at the same time as the potatoes. Set aside.
Cooking the potatoes: Peel the potatoes and dice into 2-½-inch chunks. It's preferable not to cut them too small as they might fall apart. Place the potatoes in a saucepan. Add about 2-3 cups of cold water (add more water if it evaporates too quickly, depending on the heat). Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook for about or about 10-15 minutes. The potatoes should be fork-tender but still firm. Remove from the pot. Transfer to a platter. Let cool a little.
For the filling: Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle and have "dried" (with no excess water), mash the potatoes with the pumpkin (if not already puréed), using a potato masher (or a foodmill). Add the butter. Using a wooden spoon, slowly add the warm cream and 3 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese. Stir constantly to the desired thickness. You might add more heavy cream if you like it smoother. Season with salt and white pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Cut and place the puff pastry dough into buttered individual mini-tartlet shells (you could also use a 9-inch pie). Prick the dough with a fork to prevent it from rising too much. The dough should be evenly spread in the mini mold and overflow a little on the sides, as it will shrink while baking. Add about 2 teaspoons of the pumpkin goat cheese filling to the molds. Spread evenly. Place the molds on a baking sheet.
Top the appetizers with the chopped candied walnuts and the remaining goat cheese.
Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes at 375°F and then lower the heat to 350°F and continue baking for another 30-35 minutes (rotating them half-way through so they cook evenly) until puffed and slightly golden. Remove from the oven; repeat until all the dough is used (you will have leftover pumpkin filling).
Allow to rest a little before un-molding the appetizers.
Before serving, garnish with parsley.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
You could also replace the pumpkin with butternut squash.
The thyme is not essential to this dish; I just adds a nice aroma to the appetizer.
You can create a large pie if you don't have small molds. I bought non-stick petit four pans at Williams-Sonoma. It's a set of thirty with 5 different shapes. In general, I prefer making miniature versions.
I cheated and used store-bought candied whole walnuts with sesame seeds. You can find them in Asian markets. They're sold in 4.41-ounce (125-gram) packages. You could also make your own by following these instructions.
Don't discard the pastry remnants. Make some cheese twists the next day!Published By: on April 20, 2011.