finished filling on top of crust.jpg

Finished tart before placed in the oven.  (Josh Penrod/Capital Journal)

It is time to start prepping for the holidays, which is best done by cooking fabulous desserts that you must test; you know, to make sure that your family and friends will like them.

Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen calls her Marbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart “an earnest attempt to find a singular pumpkin dessert that would please my whole family.” Additional bonuses: this dessert serves eight, it is a swirl of cheesecake and pumpkin pie, and it is a snap to prepare. It is truly the perfect dessert for any of the upcoming holidays.

For the crust, Perelman’s recipe calls for graham crackers and ginger snap cookies; however, my husband, Andy, who is the baker in our family, uses straight ginger snap cookies with half a stick of melted butter. Grind the cookies, around twenty, in a food processor, add the butter, mix, and press firmly into the bottom and partially up the sides of a nine-inch pan. A tart pan with a removable bottom is suggested, but any nine-inch pan will do.

This recipe requires you to prepare two simple batters. I suggest starting with the pumpkin batter by mixing, in a bowl, one large egg, an egg white, one and one fourth cup pumpkin puree, one fourth cup sugar, one fourth cup brown sugar, half a teaspoon salt, one fourth teaspoon ground cinnamon, one fourth teaspoon ginger, one fourth teaspoon ground cloves, and one cup heavy cream. Then pour the pumpkin batter mixture into the pan with the crust and prepare the cheesecake batter—four ounces softened cream cheese, three tablespoons sugar, and one large egg yolk. The cheesecake batter should be smooth before it is dolloped into the pumpkin batter, afterwards use a butter knife to marble the two batters into a decorative pattern. Bakers tip: keep the butter knife from dragging through the crust and do not stress, any pattern will look pretty. Bake the tart at 425 degrees for ten minutes; reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for thirty to forty minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. To serve, chill in the fridge.

My husband and I have been using Deb Perelman’s recipes for years. She exemplifies simple, approachable cooking for small kitchens. On her blog,, are a variety of recipes. You can also visit Pierre’s own local bookstore, Prairie Pages, and order Perelman’s book the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook—the photographs alone will make you want to create every recipe. Enjoy!

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