The silky pumpkin custard is just sweet enough so that even with a crown of torched homemade marshmallow it’s not cloying, and the spices in the custard echo the flavors in the gingersnap crust. Whether you choose to pipe the marshmallow or spread it on freestyle, the result is an elegant twist on a holiday favorite.
Makes one 9-inch tart, serves 6 to 8
For the crust:
8 ounces gingersnap cookies
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup cream
2 large eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
10 ounces (1¼ cups) pumpkin purée
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon organic nutmeg
¼ teaspoon organic allspice
For the marshmallow topping:
2 large egg whites
½ cup sugar
¼ cup light Karo syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the crust: Pulse the gingersnaps in the food processor until the cookies are reduced to fine crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, this can also be done by putting the cookies in a ziptop storage bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. Add the melted butter and vanilla and pulse a few more times until the crumbs are moist. Press the crumbs out into a removable bottom 9-inch tart pan, evenly covering the bottom and sides. Transfer to freezer and chill for at least 10 minutes (or up to overnight). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Set the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake the crust for 8 minutes. While the crust bakes, make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, eggs, and vanilla. In a small saucepan combine the pumpkin puree, maply syrup, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to splutter. Remove from the heat, add to the bowl with the cream and egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour the custard into the par-baked tart shell (still on the baking sheet), return to the oven and bake until the custard jiggles just slightly at its center, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until room temperature, then refrigerate until cold.
Make the marshmallow topping: Bring 1-inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a medium heatproof mixing bowl) whisk together the egg whites, sugar and Karo syrup. Set the bowl over the pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch. Beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and glossy white and resembles melted marshmallow; add the vanilla and beat just to combine. Transfer the marshmallow mixture to a piping bag with a plain tip. Pipe small marshmallow “kisses” all over the surface of the cooled tart. Alternately, you can use a rubber spatula to transfer the marshmallow to the top of the tart. With an offset spatula, carefully spread the marshmallow over the surface of the tart, creating some peaks and valleys. With a small crème brûlée torch, torch the marshmallow until golden brown. If you do not have a torch, preheat your oven broiler to high and arrange a rack 2 to 3 inches from the heating element. Place the tart on a rimmed baking sheet and set under the broiler, leaving the door cracked and watching very attentively, until the marshmallow is golden brown, which will take only a few minutes.
To serve, carefully remove the outer ring of the tart pan by setting the tart on top of a can or bowl and pulling the ring gently downward. Transfer the tart to a serving platter and cut into wedges.