These eggnog cream tarts are absolutely divine and an absolute treat for any holiday gathering. I remember eating my first French pastry and marveling at how incredibly delightful the pastry cream was. It was silky smooth, rich with real vanilla flavor, and had the most luscious texture.
Basically, it was the complete opposite of the boxed pudding mixes that are used so often as a substitute here in America. I vowed from that day on that I would always make my own pastry cream.
The “cream” in these eggnog cream tarts
If I had known how easy pastry cream is to make, I would have been making these eggnog cream tarts a long, long time ago. Since learning how to make pastry cream, I’ve made everything from homemade éclairs to croquembouches.
A great pastry cream can be a staple for French baking, and versatile in its many uses.
While the pastry cream filling for this recipe is eggnog-flavored, it’s still as luscious and delightful as a classic, vanilla-flavored one.
Why “mini” eggnog cream tarts?
Traditionally, if I’m serving dessert at my own home for a dinner party, I’ll make one large tart. For larger parties, or potlucks where I’m transporting the dessert, I find it easier to make a mini version like these eggnog cream tarts.
The tarts are so easy to grab and eat… almost too easy, if you know what I mean!
I kept the topping for these tarts really light by using freshly whipped, sweetened cream (crème Chantilly). I’m a big fan of crème Chantilly in desserts.
I feel like it’s a major component of so many wonderful French pastries, and it’s the reason why I love them so dearly. The cream just lightens the indulgent pastries so well. I often feel like anything else would just be a sorry replacement.
So, if you’re asking me for a crowd-pleasing dessert you can serve at your holiday party, I will kindly point you straight to this recipe!
for the graham cracker crust
- 1 1/2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
for the eggnog cream filling
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 cups eggnog
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
for the whipped cream
- 1 cup cold, heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- ground cinnamon for dusting, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar together. Pour in the melted butter, and combine until all the crumbs are coated in the butter.*
- Line a mini cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Drop approximately 2 teaspoons of the graham cracker mixture into each liner. Butter your index finger and use it to slightly pat down the crumbs to create a flat, smooth surface. Or, you can use an equally narrow item to pat down the crumbs (like a narrow, flat-bottom shot glass). Bake the tart crust for 10 minutes. Then remove from the oven and allow it to cool on the counter.
- Meanwhile, create the eggnog filling. In a large saucepan over low heat, warm the eggnog and milk until steam is rising and its just about to simmer along the edges of the pan.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together. Stream in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk liquid from the pan, whisking the egg mixture vigorously as you do. Continue to stream in the rest of the hot liquid while simultaneously whisking the egg mixture.
- Pour all of the contents back into the saucepan, and over medium-low heat, continue to whisk the batter until you get a thick, pudding-like consistency (this can take 5 to 8 minutes). Pour the custard into a large bowl.
- Stir in the nutmeg and vanilla until blended in, then use a spoon to scoop the custard into the prepared mini crust. Fill the liners to the rim. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap over the entire pan, making sure to press the sheet onto the top of each tart so that it directly touches each custard-filled tart. This direct contact will prevent a filmy-layer from forming on the tarts. Refrigerate the tarts overnight.**
- The next day before serving, create the whipped cream by whisking the heavy cream on high speed until indentations begin to form. Add the vanilla extract and give it a whisk to combine. Add the powdered sugar, and continue to whisk on high speed until you get a thick, frosting-like consistency.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the whipped cream. Pipe the whipped cream onto the top of each tart, then dust with cinnamon.***
*Since "cinnamon" graham crackers are not sold as crumbs (unlike traditional honey graham crackers), simply place the crackers in a ziplock bag and use a rolling pin to crush them down into crumbs. You'll need almost 1 1/2 of the cracker bags that come in the box.
**Also, this recipe will actually yield a little more than 24 tarts, but since most people don't have 2 mini cupcake pans, I've given a minimum yield here. You can make a few of bigger tarts with the leftover ingredients using ramekins. They'll be "testers" for yourself! 😉
***If you're not immediately serving the tarts, refrigerate them until you do. I like to pipe the frosting on, then I place them in a bakery box in the fridge until I'm ready to serve them.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 24 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 147
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