Pie to the rescue! Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? Are you ready for all your relatives in your house at once? Are you ready for the big love fest that will ensue?

That’s what I thought. You are so not ready. You’ve got about 9-10 days before the big event.

You know there is going to be a lot of hugs, kisses, and a little extra spice thrown in. That’s what makes life interesting- the spice part. Yes, count on some bickering, some whispering; “Seriously, what is that she is wearing?!”, some whining about who gets the comfy chair, and all the little annoyances  gifts that make up a family unit.

But you still all love each other.

Deeply. Never forget that part.

Thanksgiving is about love, sharing, and yes- embarassing family stories…and pie.

At some point that embarrasing story about cousin Timmy will bubble to the surface from someone who has had a little too much chardonnay. It’s okay. This is why we have pie on Thanksgiving.

Pie smoothes out all the bumpy spots. Pie=peace. Pie= silence. Pie=happiness.  It’s my belief pie should be served at all foreign summits and UN meetings and much more would get solved…. But I digress. There is only one problem I can think of with pie. At some point, one of your clan will ask you to slice them just a sliver. You know there is always that one annoying relative who will refuse pie, (sure go ahead and refuse after I slaved all day). Diabetics are exempt. Don’t you know that it is a turkey day crime to refuse pie on Thanksgiving?!

“Oh, okay then, just a sliver for me” they mutter… (who are you kidding with that piece of sliver).

I can’t stand trying to slice a sliver.

Of anything.

Let’s get that straight- right now.

Now, I am in no way knocking the fact you are watching your weight or counting points or calories. Not in the least. I just have a big aversion to sliver slicing….So I have come up with a solution. Just try to refuse one of these mini pies bites. They are like pumpkin pie poppers; in essence the equivalent of a sliver of pie.

One last thing- I totally spotted you behind the fridge earlier with the can of Redi-Whip tilting your head back squirting in whipped cream. Your secret is safe with me. Sliver indeed….

It’s okay because I love you deeply.

Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts

Yield: 24 mini tarts

Cream Cheese Press in Crust

3 oz. cream cheese, cubed at room temp

1 stick butter, cubed at room temp

1 Cup all-purpose flour

1  1/2 tsp.  sugar

pinch of salt

In a large shallow bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Add the cubed butter and cubed cream cheese. Using a fork mix to combine into one cohesive mass. Knead gently into a ball to gather up any scrappy bits of dough. Let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Filling

3/4 cup solid pack pumpkin (from a can)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 Lg.egg

1/4  cup packed dark brown sugar

1  1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt

raw sugar or regular sugar (for sprinkling crust)

1. prepare a 24 well mini muffin tin and  spray with baking spray or use a silicone mini muffin pan. Whisk all the filling ingredients in large bowl until combined. Set aside. Using the dough, pinch off enough to form about a 1 inch ball size. Flatten dough ball into a disk and press into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin well. Pour 1 Tbsp. of filling  into each pie crust well. Brush each top edge of crust with cream and sprinkle with raw sugar or granulated sugar.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes. Because it is a custard;the filling will continue to cook even after removed from the oven and set thoroughly once cooled. The filling will puff up but will flatten once out of the oven.

2. Rest the muffin tin over a wire rack and let the tarts rest for about 15 minutes before attempting to remove from each well. To guide out of the tin; use a thin edge knife and coax out of the wells, then let the tarts cool a bit more on a wire rack.

2. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Whipped cream optional. Store leftover tarts in an airtight container in the fridge.

Weight Watcher Friendly Muffins

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Okay, I hate the word diet, so we are not even going there. Claudia would wag her finger at me if I even brought up the word. I can see her scolding me right now with her sweet toothy grin.  It’s a life style change. We are getting healthy. We are changing our lives. Yes Darling, we totally get it 🙂 These are “healthy”, “lighter” and most of all; Weight Watcher friendly. To all my peeps who are going through the process with me at Weight Watchers counting points and slimming down, these muffins are each 5 points and they are really good. I came across this recipe a few years ago and have hung onto it ever since. Hey Claudia! (she’s our WW leader and might I add,  SHE IS FIERCE!) this is in honor of you and thank you for the weekly love you always share! She keeps all of us on track each week and gives us unbounded support. These muffins are screaming for a cup of cider. I wonder how many points that would be….Claudia??? how many points is cider?!?

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

(recipe from Nov. 2007 Cooking Light issue)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped (such as Craisins)
  • 1/2 Cup walnuts (optional)
  • Cooking spray


  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and next 5 ingredients (though cloves); stir well with a whisk.
  • Combine granulated sugar and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Fold in cranberries.
  • Place 12 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray. Spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack.

Happy Baking,


Printable Recipe:


Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake

Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake

Fall is officially here according to the calendar. This is exciting for us San Franciscans because it means finally our fog is lifting and we are coming into our “Indian summer”. The sky is suddenly blue instead of white, the sun is shining, the days are shorter but the smell of fall is in the air, and it’s such a fabulous time. This means pumpkins and orange colors of every hue. Big pumpkins, orange pumpkins, white pumpkins, cute little mini pumpkins and everything pumpkin in terms of baking.

I make this cake every fall and I always make the marzipan pumpkins that go on top of the cake. I actually taught my son Seth how to make the marzipan pumpkins and once he starts there is no stopping him. Seth loves to make anything out of marzipan. Everytime I whip out the marzipan he begs me to get involved. Molding shapes out of marzipan is like playdoh for adults. I think that’s why Seth really likes the marzipan……..you see I sort of banned playdoh in our house when he was little. Don’t judge…It’s just that I got tired of picking pieces of hard gunk out of the carpet….but I digress. This cake is very moist because of the pumpkin in the batter. It is a great way to welcome in the beginning of Fall.

Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake (yields 8 inch 3 layer cake, or 10 inch 2 layer cake)

3/4 C Unsalted butter, softened (1  1/2 sticks)

1 C Light brown sugar

1 C Sugar

3 Lg. eggs

1 C Pumpkin puree

1/2 C Buttermilk

2 tsp. Vanilla

2 oranges; zested

2 C All-purpose flour

2 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. Baking soda

1  1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

1/4 tsp. Ground ginger

1 tsp. Salt

1/2 C Toasted walnuts or pecans (+ more for sides of cake)

1/3 C candied orange peel* (optional) [around this time in the stores you can start to find it in little shallow tubs packed in syrup] or you can make your own. (I make my own; but that is a recipe for another time).

Mascarpone cream cheese Icing (recipe below)

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Prepare your chosen pans by spraying with baking spray and lining with parchment circles; spray again lightly.

2. Combine the pumpkin, buttermilk, orange zest, and vanilla. Set aside.

3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt; whisk to combine.

4. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium  high speed until smooth and well combined.

5. Add in the eggs one at a time; stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.

6. Starting with the flour, alternate adding the flour and pumpkin mixture; scraping bowl in between each addition and ending with the flour mixture.

7. Divide the batter evenly into the pans and Bake at 350º for ~ 25-30 minutes or until the edges are browned and a toothpick coms out clean.

8. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove to cool completely on the rack. Ice the cake with the cream cheese icing when completely cool.

Mascarpone cream cheese icing

(3) 8 oz. bricks cream cheese; softened

8 oz. container  mascarpone cheese; softened

1/2 stick (1/4 C unsalted butter, softened)

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla

5 Cups confectioners sugar (measure, then sift)

1. Sift the sugar, then set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment; beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, and butter until smooth. Add in the sugar a little at a time on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and beat on medium high speed until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Marzipan pumpkins


orange food coloring (gel type) * found at cake supply stores


whole cloves (or chocolate jimmies)

Method: Wear latex free gloves or use a plastic bag to color your marzipan.  Add a little bit of orange coloring to the marzipan and knead in the coloring with your hands until desired color. I like to do two different colors of orange; one a bit darker. Once the color looks evenly distributed; pick off a ball of marzipan and roll into a ball. Using a toothpick rock the toothpick against the sides of the ball lightly to create pumpkin lines. Flatten the top of the ball slightly. Stick the whole clove or chocolate jimmy into the top. Warning; if you use the cloves; warn your guests not to eat the cloves; they are only for decoration or you can use the chocolate jimmy if you have small children or are concerned. I love to use the cloves because it the stem looks more real and also it gives off a nice scent.

Printable Recipe:


Happy Baking,