Cake Monkey is one of L.A.'s favorite bakeries, and the owners have shared with us the recipe for one of their most popular Thanksgiving creations. It doesn't actually use pumpkins — rather, it calls for two squashes, which are a lot easier to deal with. (And it's easy to find butternut pre-cubed.) You will need a candy thermometer, so be prepared for that. And enjoy.
Honey-Braised “Pumpkin” Tart with Toasted Marshmallow Top and Graham Cracker Crust
For one 10” pumpkin tart (about 1 ½” thick)
For the pumpkin filling:
1 lb butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
1 lb kabocha squash (peeled and cubed)
1 c heavy cream
½ c wildflower honey
½ can sweetened condensed milk (7 ounces)
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 vanilla bean
8 egg yolks (SET ASIDE)
Toss all ingredients (other than egg yolks) together in a roasting pan. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes. Check for tenderness. Continue cooking until the squashes are soft and easily pierced with a fork.
Remove vanilla bean. Pour the rest of the contents of the roasting pan into a food processor and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine-meshed strainer.
ADD: 8 egg yolks to the mixture. Whisk until incorporated. Set aside.
Prepare the crust.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine 2½ cups of graham cracker crumbs with 4 or 5 tablespoons melted butter. Add enough butter so the crumbs form a tight clump in the palm of your hand if you press them together.
Spread the crumbs along the bottom of the tart pan and up the sides to form a ½”-thick border. Press them in neatly and tightly, using a measuring cup to help form an even, smooth bottom and smooth sides.
Bake the crust at 325 degrees for 5 minutes to set it. Allow to cool completely before proceeding.
Add the filling to the crust and bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Bake until the center of the tart is just barely set, maybe a teensy bit wiggly. If you over-bake, the tart will crack.
While the tart is cooling, prepare the marshmallow. Allow the tart to cool completely before adding the marshmallow topping!
For the marshmallow:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine the sugar and water. Clean the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to make sure no stray sugar granules remain. This is crucial! One stray sugar granule can cause your entire pan of sugar to crystallize during the heating process.
Allow the sugar to come to a boil and continue cooking until the temperature reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the sugar is cooking, begin whisking your egg whites. Whisk on high speed in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When the egg whites begin to foam, stop the mixer and add the cream of tartar and salt.
Whip the egg whites on high speed until they reach soft peak consistency. Immediately drizzle in the hot sugar syrup. Do so slowly and carefully. It is extremely hot.
Continue whisking on high until the egg whites have reached full volume and the meringue is glossy and shiny and smooth. Mix in the vanilla extract.
While the meringue is still warm, spoon it over the FULLY COOLED tart. With the back of a spoon, make soft, undulating waves of marshmallow all over the top of the tart. Then, with a kitchen torch, “toast” the “marshmallow” gently.
Serve within 4 hours of finishing. The meringue does not do well in the refrigerator. If you need to keep the tart for longer, keep it at room temperature, uncovered.