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Food Eyeswoon Kitchen:

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Tart

Photographs by Sarah Elliott

When I first began to cook and bake almost 13 years ago, Epicurious might have been my greatest teacher. My fondness for the site spoke to my love of aesthetics — I would never create a recipe without seeing a visual first. I would pore over the reviews obsessively, which also spoke to my perfectionism. Perhaps I had too much time on my hands, being a young wife and mom with an infant at home and no career to speak of, but more so, I just wanted to create delicious food. I wanted to create food that would simply blow me away, teach me something in the process, and swoon my guests. Anything less than stellar was simply unacceptable to me. So guided by this rather stringent set of rules, I read each and every review before deciding to make a recipe. Often I would combine recipes, taking the sauce from one with the braising technique from another, or mashing together various bits and bobs from one dessert and mixing my unique version with yet another. And what’s funny now that I think about it is how Victor’s career at the time was heavily focused on remixing — he was creating dance tracks for Madonna, Sting, and Beyoncé, taking their lyrics and rewriting the music for a club version. In a way, what I was doing was whipping up my own remixes in the kitchen.

Well, today we have a Thanksgiving EyeSwoon remix coming at you. It’s reminiscent of my old baking habits, as I have truly concocted a mélange of a few recipes here. So pumpkin pie happens to be one of my absolute favorite desserts at this time of year, but truth be told, I had never made one that knocked my swoony socks off until this iteration! I really needed a smooth and creamy filling that was not too dense, and bursting with flavor and spice. I found exactly that and more when I came upon this bourbon-maple pumpkin pie recipe from Bon Appétit. I promise you THIS is the only pumpkin filling you will ever need. The bourbon and maple swirling together with just the right level of spices elevate the silky filling to swoon status! So, this became my base.

I also needed a ridiculously flaky crust. Lucky for me, last week at a Friendsgiving I attended at the Food52 test kitchen, I got to chatting with Food52 co-founder and CEO Amanda Hesser about pie dough. She was singing the praises of a recipe from her newest cookbook that originated from baker and blogger Rose Levy Beranbaum. The secret ingredient is cream cheese, which she swears by, thanks to its tender and flaky results. In my kitchen I have no use for a soggy crust. So to help combat the age-old limp pumpkin pie crust problem, there are two surefire tricks. One is blind baking the crust, which is a fancy way to say to bake it first, before adding the filling. You will also always want to weigh down the dough, lining parchment with pie weights, beans or rice to press down on the dough to avoid puffing. Another guaranteed tip for flakiness is to brush your dough with an egg wash, which acts as a sealant so that the loose pie filling does not penetrate the crust. Presentation-wise, I also wanted to elevate the classic pie just a touch by making it in a removable tart pan instead of a pie tin. And finally, I always need texture in my food, so I chose to toast up some kasha in butter and threw in a few salted pepitas for variation.

I suppose the moral of this story is, get creative when reading recipes. Allow yourself to borrow from others and be inspired by others. No one has your exact palate, and while many recipes are developed, tested and studied in test kitchens in order to provide the swooniest of results, sometimes your spin on someone else’s idea can result in your own version of perfect. Do your research, read reviews, play with flavors, and have fun along the way. While I love developing my own recipes and just got through more than 100 for my cookbook, stepping into my husband’s line of remix work this Thanksgiving pretty much rocked my world. And for that, I have gratitude. I will be making this again for Turkey Day, and perhaps I will play a remix from Madonna’s Ray of Light album as I serve it!

Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Tart

EyeSwoon Kitchen


Makes dough for a 9-inch standard pie crust

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, cold, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar


  • All-purpose flour (for dusting)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin purée
  • ¼ cup crème fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Toasted kasha and pepitas

  • ¼ cup kasha – raw buckwheat
  • ¼ cup pepitas
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

The Prep

  1. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Add the cream cheese to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the butter and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of a pea. Now add the cream and vinegar. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas, and the mixture holds together when pressed between two fingers. Pour the mixture onto a work surface, knead it together and press into a flat disk. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight.
  2. Roll out disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14” round. Transfer to a 9” pie dish or fluted, removable bottom tart pan as I did. Lift up edge and allow dough to slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1” overhang. Fold overhang under and crimp edge. Chill in freezer 15 minutes or overnight. You can also bake the pie dough directly from frozen.
  3. Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350°. Line pie with parchment paper or heavy-duty foil, leaving a 1½” overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is dry around the edge, about 20 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake until surface of crust looks dry, 5–10 minutes. Brush bottom and sides of crust with 1 beaten egg. Return to oven and bake until dry and set, about 3 minutes longer.(Brushing crust with egg and baking will prevent a soggy crust.)
  4. Whisk pumpkin purée, crème fraiche, bourbon, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and remaining 3 eggs in a large bowl; set aside. Pour maple syrup in a small saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve pod for another use) or add vanilla extract and bring syrup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened and small puffs of steam start to release, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add cream in 3 additions, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition until smooth. Gradually whisk hot maple cream into pumpkin mixture.
  5. Place pie or tart dish on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in filling. Bake rotating halfway through, until set around edge but center barely jiggles, 50–60 minutes. Transfer pie dish or tart pan to a wire rack and let pie cool.
  6. In a small saucepan heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the kasha and sauté, tossing continuously until the grain releases a nutty fragrance and becomes golden brown, 5 minutes. Add the pepitas and sauté a few minutes more. Season with salt to taste and set aside to cool completely.
  7. Once pie is completely cool, sprinkle the toasted kasha and pepitas over the pumpkin.
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