Frugal Holidays, Pt 1 Pumpkin Tartlets

I didn't REALLY abandon my blog. I just ignored it shamelessly while dealing with life's insanities :D But I'm going to try to get back into the swing of things. I've challenged myself to blog at least 3 projects a week through Christmas, focussing on bringing the insanity of the holidays under control. I may muse on my reasons for doing this later, but right now, I want to talk pumpkin.

Last week, the twins' preschool class had a Thanksgiving celebration, and I wanted to cook something. Problem was that I also had 3 writing assignments, 3 quizzes, and an exam due BEFORE the party! So I headed over to to try to find a quick, easy, and frugal recipe. My back up plan was a pecan pie from walmart's bakery, which cost $7 for 2 (2 to give 16 servings, and also because the cashier dropped the first one, then put it into the bag upside down!! There was NO WAY I was taking that to school :( ). I found this great little recipe with a 15 minute prep time! I had the ingredients on hand, but I've listed the prices beside the items most people wouldn't already have in their kitchen:

100-Calorie Pumpkin Pie Tartlets
16 (2 1/2-inch) foil baking cups (>$1 pack of 50)
Nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch (~$1 for a box)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin ($1.50 for Libby brand)
1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Fat Free Milk ($0.69 for generic)
1 cup fat free whipped topping ($1.50 for a bowl--I actually paid $2 for reddiwhip)
12 small gingersnap cookies, broken into 1/4-inch pieces (Bag of unbroken cookies $2)
PREHEAT oven to 350º F. Place baking cups on baking sheet with sides. Spray each cup with cooking spray.

COMBINE sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger and salt in small bowl. Beat egg whites in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Spoon 1/4 to 1/3 cup of mixture into each prepared cup.

BAKE for 25 to 28 minutes or until knife inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool on baking sheet for 20 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Top each with whipped topping and gingersnap crumbs.

A few notes:

1. I don't know if it was because I used my stand mixer to make the batter or what, but I used 1/2 cup of batter per prepared cup instead of the 1/4 to 1/3 in the recipe, and I still made 21 tarts instead of 16. Good news for calorie counters--same ingredients, so fewer calories :D

2. I'm not sure you really NEED the foil cups instead of the more cost effective paper cups. I had some foil ones left over from my son's Star Wars party and just used those, but I may try the paper ones next time just to see what happens.

3. I bought cute little gingerbread man-shaped gingersnaps, sprayed some reddi-whip on each tartlet, then stuck my little ginger-man into the whipped topping whole. It was an adorable presentation, but a mistake taste wise--the gingersnaps really add to the flavor of the tarts. If you choose to decorate as I did, be sure to either sprinkle crushed cookies as well OR use some melted butter to make crusts in the foil cups before baking. I think I'm going to try the second method for Thanksgiving.

I estimate that this recipe cost between $7-$8, counting fractional amounts for the spices, cooking spray, sugar, and cornstarch (ie, since I had them on hand, I didn't include in the estimate the cost of an entire container, but rather the approximate cost of the amount I used). This made 21 servings, so for the sake of easy math, less than $0.40 per serving for what turned out to be a very impressive-looking dessert.

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