When you’ve worked with food as long as I have, and have come up with as many desserts as I have, you get to a certain point where many of the dishes you construct are compilations of things you’ve done previously.
When we opened Mozza, I had done a cream-filled date tart that I really loved, so I urged Dahlia to rearrange some of its components, and to her credit she came up with this sophisticated rendition of pumpkin pie. We serve it with walnut cookies that are a twist on a Greek walnut cookie that I included in a previous book.
Pumpkin purée is one of the few canned items that I endorse, the reason being that it is totally pure — there are no weird ingredients in it, just pumpkin. Also, from my experience, roasting a pumpkin and puréeing it myself doesn’t yield more delicious results than canned. You will need an 11-inch flan ring (a straight-sided bottomless tart ring) to make this.
Whisk the egg yolk and cream together in a small bowl. Combine the flour, sugar, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until the butter and dry ingredients form a fine cornmeal consistency, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk and cream and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, 2-3 minutes.
Dust a flat work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it comes together into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days; or freeze it for up to 2 months. (Defrost the dough overnight in the refrigerator.)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, butter the inside of an 11-inch flan ring, and place the ring on the baking sheet. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Dust a flat work surface with flour, cut the dough into chunks, and knead the dough on the countertop to soften it, until it is the texture of Play-Doh.
Dust your work surface again with flour, dust a rolling pin with flour, and roll the dough until it is 15 inches in diameter and a thickness of 1⁄8 to ¼ inch. Gently fold the dough in quarters and place it on top of the flan ring, placing the point in the center and gently unfolding the dough so the ends are flopped over the ring.
Gently push the dough down to fit inside the ring, pressing into the crease around the inside circumference so the dough fits snugly against the corners and sides. (Don’t stretch the dough to fit or it will shrink during baking.) Dip the knuckle of your index finger in flour and use it to further press the dough into the crease, creating a straight edge, not sloping sides.
Roll the rolling pin over the top of the flan ring to cut the dough. Pull off the trimmed dough and reserve it to patch any cracks in the crust after it is baked. Place the tart shell in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.
Fill a large bowl with ice water and set a smaller bowl inside. Set a fine-mesh strainer in the smaller bowl. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl until smooth. Combine the cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat. When the cream just begins to boil, turn off the heat.
Ladle 1 cup of the cream out of the pot and gradually add it to the bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly to prevent the cream from cooking the eggs. Gradually add the contents of the bowl to the saucepan with the remaining cream, stirring with the whisk.
Cook the filling over medium heat, stirring constantly with the whisk, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, making sure it doesn’t boil, or the eggs will curdle. Pour the filling through the fine-mesh strainer. Stir in the pumpkin purée and set aside to cool to room temperature. (If a layer of foam has formed on the top of the filling, skim it off and discard.)
You can prepare the filling up to 3 days in advance. Transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to bake the tart.
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Remove the prepared tart shell from the refrigerator. Lightly grease 1 side of a sheet of parchment paper and place it buttered side down on the tart shell. Pour pie weights or uncooked rice or beans into the shell, pressing them into the corners of the shell to prevent the corners from rising when the shell is baked.
Place the tart shell on a baking sheet and bake it until light golden, about 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the cooking time so the tart browns evenly.
Remove from the oven and use a large spoon to carefully remove the weights. Peel off and discard the parchment paper and return the tart shell to the oven to bake until it is a rich golden brown and uniform in color, 15-20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set it aside to cool to room temperature. (Leave the oven on.) Check for cracks in the shell where the filling could leak out, and smear a small amount of raw dough into the cracks so the crust is sealed. Add the scraps to the remaining disk of dough.
Submerge the dates in a bowl of hot tap water to loosen the skins. Remove the dates from the water and peel off and discard the skins. Remove the pits, reshape the dates, and pat them dry with a paper towel. Lay the dates on the tart shell about 1 inch from the edge of the tart pan, spacing them evenly so each slice of the tart will contain a whole date.
Pour the filling into the prepared shell to fill it flush to the top. (You may not use all of the filling.) Place the baking sheet in the oven, taking care not to let the filling spill over the sides, and bake the tart for 25-30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet during baking time so the tart cooks evenly, until it is almost set. (The very center will jiggle a bit when you gently shake the tart.)
Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Serve the tart warm or set it aside to cool to room temperature. (I like it best warm.) To serve, lift the flan ring off the tart and cut the tart into 8 or 10 wedges, as many as the number of dates you used. Use a spatula to carefully transfer each wedge to a dessert plate. Nestle a scoop of gelato next to the tart, drizzle the gelato with a few drops of bourbon, and place 2 walnut biscotti on the side, if you are serving them.