A celebration of the newest trendy vegetable, this Honeynut Squash Tart features a smooth and flavorful sweet squash filling baked in a ginger-laced buttery crust.
Inspiration for recipes can strike at any moment, but for me, they often come when perusing the farmer's market or grocery store. That is definitely the case with this Honeynut Squash Tart. I plan out my content months in advance, but while I was shopping recently for ingredients for a few recipes, I came upon some of the cutest little Honeynuts. I became dead-set on developing a recipe using them and posting it in time for the pie holiday! While it wasn't the smartest move to throw a wrench into my schedule and create a new recipe in just a few short weeks, I'm glad I got it together for this. And if you love Honeynut squash as much as me, this is the pie for you!
If you aren't familiar with Honeynuts, I touch upon what makes them so special in the article below.
Upfront, you must know this tart is a bit of a labor of love (not unlike this other squash pie). The squash must be roasted, the crust must be prepared and blind-baked, and then the filling must be assembled and the whole tart baked. However, the steps can be broken out over a few days to make it more achievable.
So, let's get to making it, shall we? The article below is jam packed full of useful information. You can jump around using the menu below, or skip to the end of the article for the full recipe.
Here is an overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The full recipe is listed below in greater detail.
- Honeynut squash
- powdered sugar and granulated sugar
- crème fraîche (if you can't find this, you can make it or substitute it with sour cream)
- ground ginger (don't forget to check the expiration date on this spice, as the older it gets, the less potent it is)
- vanilla extract
- salt (this recipe was tested using Diamond Crystal coarse kosher salt. If you use Morton's kosher salt or fine salt decrease by about half for volume, or use the same amount by weight.)
All About the Honeynut
The Honeynut squash is a relatively new winter squash, created by plant breeder Michael Mazourek in collaboration with chef Dan Barber (of Blue Hill at Stone Barns), for a project known as the "Row 7 Seed Company." The Honeynut squash looks like a mini butternut squash, but its flavor sets it apart: it's known for being sweeter and nuttier than other winter squash.
It's typically small in size (usually around 6 inches long), which makes it easier to handle, and it has an edible skin. This little squash has become the "it" vegetable at the farmer's market and grocery store. You can find them by the company that created it, Row 7, but it's also readily available in most markets. It is great for savory dishes as well as for sweet, like in this tart.
When developing this recipe, I wanted to let the natural, sweet, nutty flavor of the squash shine. While there is ginger in the recipe to add some nuance, the flavor of this tart is squash through and through.
Making the Ginger Crust
The pie crust in this recipe is a sweet, crumbly, shortbread-like crust with a hint of ginger that is very stable and holds up well in the refrigerator, which is ideal for chilled pies.
The dough is made easily in a food processor following the typical method to make a "shortbread" pie crust:
Step 1: Process the dry ingredients.
Step 2: Add the butter.
Step 3: Pulse until the butter is broken into pea-sized bits.
Step 4: Add in the egg and process until the dough comes together into a semi-cohesive ball.
The dough will be semi-soft, and it's easier to roll it out after a brief 30-minute chill in the refrigerator.
Quick Tips for Shaping a Tart Crust
A tart is more elegant than a regular pie, so it's worth the effort to take a few extra minutes and make sure it's fitted into the tin well to be set up for success. Here are some quick tips:
- Roll out the pastry as evenly as possible.
- After the pastry is in the tart pan, push the edges of the dough into the edges of the tin. Use your thumb to push the pastry up the sides. This helps to prevent shrinkage.
- For the least amount of shrinkage, press down on the pastry to cut off any excess from the rim of the tart pan. Or, for a more "neat look," use a paring knife to slice through the excess.
- The tart shell should also be chilled briefly before you blind-bake it (conveniently, about the amount of time it takes to preheat the oven).
Blind baking is imperative in this recipe since the squash filling needs to be cooked at a low temperature, which means it would be impossible for your pie crust to fully bake along with the filling.
There are instructions for blind-baking in the recipe below, but if you are new to it, check out this Guide to Blind-Baking.
If you don't want to make a pastry crust, this tart would also be great with:
Preparing the Filling
The filling is a three-step process: roasting the squash, blending the filling ingredients, and baking it.
Roasting the Squash
You'll need about 15 ounces of roasted Honeynut squash for this recipe. I suggest roasting off 2 pounds of Honeynuts. Depending on the squash, you will likely have some leftover. It is important to either weigh the roasted squash or to use a cup measurement to get the exact amount of squash that is needed for the filling.
Set aside any additional squash for another use. It will keep for about 5 days or more in the refrigerator, and it can freeze well for at least 3 months.
Add the measured amount of squash to a food processor or blender and puree it until it is smooth. Then, add in the remaining ingredients and process it until fully combined. The filling should be silky-smooth. Then, it's transferred to the baked tart shell.
Baking the Tart
The filled tart is baked at a low temperature. This tart falls under the "custard" category. It's always smart to bake custards low and slow to result in a creamy, smooth, well-textured filling.
It can be a bit tricky to decipher when the pie is done cooking (similar to Maple Sweet Potato Pie and Carrot Pie). If it's underdone, the filling can be too loose. If it's overdone, the filling can possibly crack.
Look for the filling to be fully set, with a matte appearance throughout. If you want to be sure, you can use an instant-read thermometer in the middle of the pie and look for a temperature around 180ºF.
Once the tart is done, let it cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or until fully set up.
Making the Pie Crust Cookie Garnish
The decorative cut-out cookies are completely optional but a pretty way to finish this tart. If you want to use them, make a double batch of the dough.
Roll out the dough, stamp out the desired cookies (these are the cutters I used), and place them on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Brush them with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar for a glossy and sparkly finished look.
To be efficient with your time, you can bake them along with the tart crust when you blind-bake, but for a shorter amount of time. Bake the cut-outs for 15 minutes at 375ºF, or until lightly golden.
Make Ahead Suggestions
While this tart is simple in appearance, there are a number of steps, baking stages, and tools you need to use. You can (and should) break these tasks up, though the recipe doesn't strictly call for that.
- Make pie crust
- Roast squash
- Blind bake pie crust
- Assemble filling
Serving + Storing
This tart should be stored in the refrigerator. It can be served straight from the refrigerator, or you can let it sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
More Custard Pies
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