Wherever there’s love for something comforting – be it cheesy pop music, junk TV or nutritionally void food and drink – there’s usually disdain in equal measure elsewhere. This rule is definitely applicable to the trend of combining of coffee with anything fancier than milk and sugar.

Millions find comfort in large lattes cut with hazelnut syrups and topped with nutmeg or cinnamon, and all year round this habit endures without really bothering anybody. As we enter winter, however, it becomes highly intrusive, with the arrival of “pumpkin spice” – an opinion-splitting addition to the sickly-sweet big-chain latte family that, for a few weeks each year, enjoys a festive spotlight across the world of food and drink.

The combination of pumpkin and spices is of course well-loved outside of coffee. As the big chains rattle out their pumpkin spice lattes by the millions, more and more ideas for using the flavour are suggested, from room-freshening sprays to a special flavour of M&Ms. Another thing that takes place around this time of year in the States is Thanksgiving, which means the advent of pumpkin pie – something adored and far less controversial than the latte.

However, the element of coffee present in the pumpkin spice latte is something that I, in spite of myself, am actually okay with. It’s stronger and bolder than the traditional pie-based pumpkin spice combination, and it was for this reason that the idea of adding coffee to pumpkin spice in the form of a tart, as opposed to pumpkin spice to coffee in the form of latte, sprung.

After working on the recipe with Rozzie from the food team (who helped me develop this remarkable coffee cake too), the resulting tarts were an absolute delight – the flavour of coffee is subtle, but present enough to give the pumpkin a punch that the traditional spices alone don’t quite deliver. The addition of ground almonds to the pastry also brings the touch of delicate sweetness that is so loved in the pumpkin spice latte. I urge you to mix things up a bit by giving them a shot – especially if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving.

Nb. It’s vital you use a good coffee grinder or pestle and mortar for the coffee itself, or you’ll wind up with a gritty filling. A grinder that runs with blades won’t cut it here – you need one with good ceramic burr, which truly “grinds” the coffee as opposed to unevenly decimating it. We used the fantastic Hario Skerton hand grinder, which on its finest setting is just right for the mix (and with which I’ve rather fallen in love over the last few weeks, as it’s perfect for use at the office…if a little loud).

Coffee pumpkin spice tarts recipe

pumpkin tarts

Makes 14-16 tarts

Spice mix:

  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tsp ground allspice

This makes more than is needed for one batch – store in an airtight jar container. 

Pastry:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 125g extra cold unsalted butter cut in to cubes
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 large free range egg

Filling:

  • 1 x 425g tin pumpkin puree or 425g of cooked pumpkin/squash pureed or mashed.
  • 100g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp spice mix
  • 1 tbsp powder-fine ground coffee

Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembled breadcrumbs, and then fold in the icing sugar and ground almonds. Make a well in the middle of your mix, crack in the egg, and bring together to form a dough. Loosen with a splash of milk if necessary. Alternatively, you can blitz all the pastry ingredients in a food processor until combined. Wrap the pasty in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and grease a muffin tray thoroughly. As this batch makes 14-16 tarts you may need more than one.

Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing all of the ingredients but the flour together in a bowl until thoroughly combined, sieving in the flour last to avoid lumps.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to the thickness of a pound coin.

Stamp out rounds which are a little bigger than the wells of your muffin tray. Press the pastry in to each one, filling in any gaps or breaks with leftover pastry – it is important you do this to avoid any filling falling out of the bottom.

Fill each pastry case, going almost to the top of each case. Feel free to make a lattice, as we have with ours, by cutting strips of leftover dough and criss-crossing them over the tops.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before removing on to a wire rack to cool completely. Be careful when removing from the tin as they will still be hot!


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