This red kuri tart with walnut crust makes a delightful winter treat with its nutty crust and velvety filling.
Winter is not my favorite season for produce but there are a few things that carry me through like winter squashes, sweet potatoes, and citrus. I love cooking and baking with red kuri, a Japanese winter squash. Red kuri is notable for its bright, red-orange skin and a sweet, and nutty flesh. I tried growing them from seeds but haven’t had much luck. I’ve roasted them for salads, soups, and curries but my favorite is a red kuri tart with walnut crust. Reminiscent of a pumpkin pie, my red kuri tart has a nutty, crumbly crust and a velvety filling spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The mascarpone adds a creamy texture while the honey creates a molasses-like undertone. It makes for a fuss free, delightful winter treat.
Tip for Making the Crust
- To get a flaky crust, keep your equipment and butter as cold as possible so the butter does not melt and becomes overworked. Handle the butter as little as possible with your hands to avoid melting it with your temperature.
- Slowly add in ice water, a tablespoon at a time. When mixing the wet ingredients into the dry, stop once it sticks together to form the cohesive dough. Use the least amount of water possible to avoid a soggy dough or creating too much gluten.
- Pat the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling out the dough. Letting it rest in the fridge allows the gluten to relax.
- Gently roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to keep from sticking. Carefully transfer dough to your tart pan and trim the edges with a knife.
- Freeze the dough after being placed in the tart pan for another 30 minutes to make sure the butter stays solid and doesn’t melt into the flour. The oven's heat will cause the tart layers to puff and resulting in a flakier crust.
- Well-wrapped dough can be stored in the fridge for up to about 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
How to Make the Filling
The filling for the red kuri tart is quite simple with a classic blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Roast the red kuri squash in the oven and scoop out the flesh. Blend the squash, spices, mascarpone, eggs, and honey in a food processor until smooth.
Tips for Baking the Crust
For this red kuri tart, blind-baking is required. Blind-baking is the process of baking a tart shell before it’s filled. It’s a two step process that requires the crust to be filled with pie weights for the first bake. The pie weights help the crust keep its shape instead of slumping into a gloppy mess. If you don’t own pie weights, you can also use dried beans or rice.
On the second round, the pie weights are removed and crust baked until golden brown. You’re aiming for the color of golden brown to get the best texture and flavor. When in doubt, it’s better to slightly over-bake than under-bake. No one likes a soggy crust. The baked crust will keep at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 days.
How Long to Bake the Tart
Once the shell is done baking, pour the squash filling directly into the tart and bake if for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees F until the edges are set but middle slightly jiggly.
What to Serve Tart With
For the red kuri tart, I like to serve it with whipped cream. If you want something tangy for a contrast, creme fraiche also works.
Make Ahead and Storage
With this recipe, you can make both the filling and the crust two days ahead of serving. Refrigerate any leftovers in a tight lidded container for up to five days.
Red Kuri Tart With Walnut Crust
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup ground walnuts
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons low fat cream cheese
- 3-4 tablespoons iced water
- 1.5-2 pounds organic red kuri squash, reserve 1 ½ cups of flesh for the filling
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup organic heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- Preheat the oven 375 degrees F.
- Cut the red kuri squash in half, scoop out all the seeds, and place them face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Roast the squash for 45 minutes until the inside is tender.
- Let it cool to room temperature, discard any stringy parts, then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Scoop out 1.5 cups of squash flesh for the filling. Save the extra flesh for soup or freeze it for another pie.
- While the squash is baking, prepare the crust. In a food processor, add flour, walnut, butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- While the food processor is running, add water and pulse until the dough comes together.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and form the dough into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough in between two sheets of parchment papers until you get about 11 inch diameter and ⅛ inch thickness.
- Lay the dough in the tart pan and press it firmly against the sides and bottom without stretching it.
- Roll rolling pin across the tart to trim the dough. You can also do this with a knife. Prick the bottom with a fork. Cover and freeze the dough in the pan for at least 30 minutes.
- To prepare the filling, in a food processor, combine 1 ½ cups of squash, mascarpone, eggs, honey, vanilla, and spices and process until smooth. Pour the filling into a large bowl and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line pastry crust with parchment paper and fill with baking weights (or uncooked rice or dried beans). Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the rice or beans and paper and bake for another 10 minutes until golden.
- Pour filling directly into the baked tart shell. Smooth the filling with an offset spatula and bake for 45-50 minutes until the edges are set and center slightly jiggly.
- Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
- When ready to serve, whisk the heavy cream and icing sugar together until soft peaks form. Serve tart slices with a dollop of whipped cream.