The aromas and flavors of the season are among the best parts of the holidays, from walnuts and cinnamon to peppermint and nutmeg. Sweet treats and mouthwatering desserts can bring family and friends around the table to celebrate the season together, one bite at a time.

CWB18923 CA Walnut Board

Courtesy photo.

During your festive gatherings this year, choose walnuts as the star baking ingredient. As many home cooks turn to wholesome ingredients that offer health benefits this holiday baking season,

Part pumpkin, part cheesecake, this Walnut Pumpkin Cream Cheese Tart spices up the classic pumpkin pie recipe.

This holiday season, pick up a bag of walnuts for all your baking needs. To discover more festive dessert ideas, visit walnuts.org.

Walnut Pumpkin Cream Cheese Tart

Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Servings: 12

Sweet Tart Crust:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/3 cup California walnuts, finely chopped

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup salted butter, softened

1 large egg

nonstick cooking spray

Filling:

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin

4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

1/2 cup California walnuts, coarsely chopped

whipped cream, for serving (optional)

To make sweet tart crust: In medium bowl, stir flour, walnuts and powdered sugar. Stir in butter and egg. Using fork, stir well until soft dough forms. Gather into ball and wrap tightly.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour, or until dough is easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and coat 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray.

Lay pastry dough on lightly floured board and roll into 11-inch circle. Press dough into bottom and sides of prepared pan and poke with fork on bottom and sides. Bake 20 minutes.

To make filling: In medium bowl, whisk pumpkin and cream cheese until smooth. Add brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, egg and egg yolk, beating until incorporated.

Pour into prepared crust and top with walnuts. Bake 40 minutes, or until filling is set when pan is gently tapped.

Remove from oven and let cool. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve each slice with dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

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