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Nightmare harvest: Halloween pumpkin puff pastry pie (tart) with apple-cranberry stuffed crust, chocolate bugs, and cinnamon wizard hats

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Pumpkin puff pastry pie, tart with apple-cranberry stuffed crust, chocolate bugs, cinnamon wizard hats

Once upon a time, the pumpkin pie got infested with little chocolate bugs, spiders, and worms. Some of these creatures have eyes and are staring right back at you from the tart.  But, thankfully, there are three magic wizard hats (with cinnamon apple filling) to save the harvest.  It’s a battle: the bugs have managed to cover one of the pumpkin tarts with the spider web; the apple and the pear each got mummified and terrified. The bugs are trying to penetrate the crust stuffed with cinnamon apple and cranberries.   Even pecans and cranberries are crawling around.

I am VERY EXCITED about my Halloween pumpkin puff pastry tart.  I made it for a Halloween Baking Challenge Featuring Puff Pastry, held by Pepperidge Farm and SeriousEats.com – a contest about finding creative ways to use Puff Pastry in Fall and/or Halloween themed entertaining recipes.

Update 10/23/2012: I am one of the 5 finalists! Which is very exciting and flattering. Now it’s voting time, until October 26, and it looks like a couple of other entries are receiving majority of votes. Not mine, unfortunately. 🙁 Well, at least I made it to the finals.

I was already on the Puff Pastry kick for the last 2 weeks, making this plum and apple puff pastry tart and these little puff pastry pizzas.   And I spent way too much time thinking about what to make for this Halloween challenge, but in the process I had so much fun, I forgot it was for a contest!  It sort of became more of a personal challenge: how creative I can get with the Halloween themed recipes, using puff pastry.  Of course, I would love to be one of the five finalists (I am one of 5 finalists ! – update as of 10/23/12) or win the contest, because the prize is very special to my heart: trip to NYC.  I love NYC, my twin sister lives there, and if I win this, I just can see the two of us trolling through all the pastry tours together, having so much fun! And then I can blog about that experience with lots of photos right here, on this blog. Either way, I am very happy with my Halloween creation and I hope you, my mysterious site visitors, like it too!


Here is how much thought I put into this and what I am trying to communicate through this Halloween dessert:

  • An obvious Halloween and Fall theme, plus a story through the presentation – I wanted my pumpkin tart to be canvas on which I could draw: Bugs infesting the pumpkin pie; wizard hats are there to magically save the tart; the apple and the pear are mummified and terrified.
  • Use of Fall and Halloween ingredients.  This dessert is all about pumpkin, apples, cranberries, cinnamon, sugar.  I even have pecans scattered around.  And of course, what is Halloween without chocolate?? That’s where chocolate bugs come into play.
  • I wanted it to be both pretty and creepy.  Sometimes Halloween foods can be downright disgusting, such as foods that look like fingers or intestines or something bleeding. I wanted something creepy but not overly disgusting.  Chocolate bugs add creepiness to my harvest presentation, and 3 wizard hats pretty much balance out all the creepiness, right?  And how creepy can chocolate bugs really get?
  • I wanted to use all natural ingredients, without resorting to food coloring or weird dyes. While I do like those bright orange, black, and purple cakes, I just wanted the real Fall colors, such as orange from the pumpkin, black from the chocolate, and red from the cranberries.  So, in this recipe you will not find any artificial food coloring or exaggerated dyes.
  • I wanted something that looked rustic, because that’s what the Fall is all about to me.
  • Simplicity.  How more simple can you go?  Roll the dough, fill with the filling.  Fill the wizard hats.  Bake.  Melt the chocolate, make the bugs.  This thing took me just an hour to make.

Do you think I have achieved what I wanted here? What do you think?
And finally, after my monologue, here is the recipe.

Pumpkin puff pastry pie, tart with apple-cranberry stuffed crust, chocolate bugs and cinnamon wizard hats, from scratch

Halloween pumpkin puff pastry pie (tart) with apple-cranberry stuffed crust, chocolate bugs, and cinnamon wizard hats.

Prep time: 60 min
Bake time: 60 min
Ingredients for stuffed crust puff pastry:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm brand) – for a round pumpkin puff pastry tart
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm brand) – for smaller tarts
  • 1 apple, cored and peeled
  • 1/4 cup cranberries (you might not use them all)
  • 1 egg for egg wash (you will used this egg wash for pumpkin tart, wizard hats, mummified apples and pears)
  • sugar for sprinkling

Ingredients for pumpkin tart filling:
My pumpkin filling was inspired by a part of recipe by Paula Deen published on SeriousEats.com (the portion about pumpkin filling). I have significantly reduced the amounts of ingredients.

  • 1/2 package cream cheese (4 ounces), softened
  • 1/2  can pumpkin (8 ounces)
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Ingredients for chocolate bugs, spiders, snakes, worms:

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


How to make pumpkin tart with stuffed crust:
1)  In a medium size bowl, beat softened cream cheese and pumpkin.  Add the egg, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, melted butter and sugar and continue beating until smooth and creamy.

pumpkin filling for pie 1

2)  Heat the oven to 350°F.  Chop 1/2 apple finely and mix with 2 tablespoons brown sugar.  Let the mixture sit until apples get nice and juicy.  Add cranberries and mix.  In a separate small container, whisk 1 egg with a fork for egg wash.

3)  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Unfold 1 pastry sheet on parchment paper.  Using a pie pan as a template (I used a pie pan of 9 inches diameter – actually the pan base was 8 inches in diameter), draw gently with the knife a 9-inch (or 8 inch) circle on a pastry sheet.  By drawing a circle, you will have extra edges beyond that circle.  In a thin line, place chopped apples and cranberries along the drawn circle line around the edges of the pastry circle.  Fold the edges of the pastry sheet over to enclose apples and cranberries and press to seal.   Brush the seam and edges of pastry with egg wash.  Sprinkle sugar over the edges of the puff pastry.

puff pastry stuffed with apple-cranberry

4)  Spread about 1/2 of pumpkin filling over puff pastry, without overfilling the edges. 

puff pastry with pumpkin cream cheese filling

5) Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the center is almost set.

6)  In a similar manner, create smaller shapes from puff pastry, such as smaller circles or rectangles.  Line the edges with remaining chopped apples and cranberries. 

filling puff pastry edges with stuffing

Secure edges, press to seal with your fingers, brush with egg wash.  Fill the center with pumpkin mixture.  Bake these smaller pumpkin tarts for 20 to 30 minutes (a bit shorter time than the large tart).

7) Cool puff tarts completely before assembly (before you add chocolate bugs)

How to make chocolate bugs (spiders, snakes, worms):
1)  Place 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a pan over medium heat and melt.

2)  Pour melted chocolate into a plastic bag.  Cut a small hole at the end of the bag.  I actually used 2 bags – one with the smaller hole, another with the bigger one.  I used the bag with the bigger whole to draw the bodies of bugs, and the bag with smaller hole – to draw legs, whiskers, etc.

3)  Line a baking sheet with a foil or parchment paper and draw bugs, snakes, worms, anything you like.  Make a couple of spider webs the same diameter as smaller tarts.

chocolate spiders

4)  Place baking sheet in the freezer for at least 40 minutes or longer (until you are ready to use the bugs).

chocolate bugs

How to make cinnamon wizard hats:
(makes about 9 or 10 hats)

1 puff pastry sheet, defrosted but not too soft
1 apple, peeled and cored
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons brown sugar
additional sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling

1) Preheat oven to 415 F.

2) Cut puff pastry sheet into 3 equal rectangles along the fold lines of the pastry (as you know the pastry is folded in 3 parts, so just separate those three).  Cut each rectangle into 8 or 9 triangles.

wizard hats with apple cinnamon filling

3) Chop apple finely, mix with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Let apples sit to get juicy.

4) To make each wizard hat: place 1 triangle on foil or parchment paper.  Fill with a little bit of chopped apples.  Place another rectangle on top, seal the edges with your fingers.  Elongate the top portion of the “hat” and bend it to the side.  Fold bottom portions of the triangles up to form a hat brim.  Brush the top portion of each hat with egg wash.  Sprinkle hats with cinnamon and sugar.

wizard hats with apple cinnamon filling 2

wizard hats with apple cinnamon filling3

5) Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer hats to baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes until hats puff up and get golden brown.

How to make mummified apples and pears:
2 apples, cored and peeled
2 pears, cored and peeled
1 puff pastry sheet, defrosted but not softened
cinnamon and sugar

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.  Roll puff pastry sheet and slice it thinly to make ribbons or strips for mummies.

2) Roll apple and pears in sugar and cinnamon.  If you have a hard time coring the pear, just slice in 2 parts, core, then put 2 parts together and bind them with puff pastry strips in the following step:

3)  Wrap puff pastry strips around each fruit to make it look like a mummy.  Brush puff pastry strips with egg wash.  Sprinkle “mummies” generously with sugar.

4)  Bake for about 20 minutes until puff pastry puffs up and gets golden color.

To assemble:

1)  Make sure pumpkin tarts are completely cooled before adding chocolate bugs to them otherwise chocolate will melt.

2)  Place 3 wizard hats on top of large tart.  Put chocolate bugs, snakes, worms around the tart.  Place chocolate spider web on one of smaller round tars, and bugs and worms – on the other smaller tart.

Note: I have a lot of step-by-step photos to go with this recipe, which will detail all the steps. But this post has gotten so scarily long, that I will probably be writing separate posts with photo tutorials.

You can find more detailed tutorials for all Halloween recipes described in this post by following these links:

Pumpkin puff pastry pie, tart with apple-cranberry stuffed crust, chocolate bugs, cinnamon wizard hats

More puff pastry recipes:

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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Sandra's Easy Cooking October 19, 2012, 4:30 pm

    Great recipe and very detailed! Love the idea and I think my kids would be excited to join the fun! Well done!

    • Julia October 21, 2012, 11:59 am

      Thanks! yes, kids love chocolate bugs and spider webs!

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef October 20, 2012, 4:07 am

    Wonderful! I want a mummified pear please 🙂 Maybe, only maybe a chocolate bug.

    • Julia October 21, 2012, 11:59 am

      They are all gone now :). Did not last too long around our house.

  • Holly | Beyond Kimchee October 21, 2012, 1:53 am

    At the first glance, I thought the crust was made with pizza dough, then I see that it was puff pastry. How neat! So Halloween appropriate! And those chocolate bugs are so cute.

    • Julia October 21, 2012, 12:03 pm

      Thanks! It does have a pretty rustic look to it. And the crust is filled with cinnamon apples and cranberries inside.

  • Nancy /SpicieFoodie October 21, 2012, 8:16 am

    What a cute post and photos. The pie looks so good and festive. Thanks for sharing:)

    • Julia October 21, 2012, 12:03 pm

      Thanks for visiting!

  • [email protected] October 22, 2012, 2:09 pm

    I absolutely love it and I hope you win! The chocolate spiders are fantastic!

    • Julia October 24, 2012, 2:20 am

      Thank you!

  • Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies October 22, 2012, 3:12 pm

    Wow, you totally went all out–I love it! Good luck with the contest!

    • Julia October 29, 2012, 12:54 pm

      Thank you, Kiersten!

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