Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pumpkin Crème Brulée

I apologize for the intermittent posts- I’ve been without Internet for a couple of weeks. Here is an awesome recipe for pumpkin crème brulée. I first saw this recipe in the November 2008 edition of Bon Appétit and have been dying to try it ever since! Last Christmas, Aaron gave me a mini culinary torch (yes, I’m just now getting around to making crème brulée after having the torch for nearly a year). After trying this recipe, I don’t know why it took me so long to use it! Of course, you can always use the broiler to create the famously sugary crust crème brulée is known for, but a torch is so much more fun!

Pumpkin crème brulée is a wonderful alternative to pumpkin pie. In my family, we have pumpkin pie at both Thanksgiving and Christmas, so this crème brulée is a great way to switch it up (although, meddling with tradition can sometimes get the cook in trouble). I made this for desert at a dinner party a couple nights ago and I think it may have been the highlight of the whole meal! A few of us took turns trying out the torch and discovered our own methods for melting the sugar.

Cracking the sugary surface of crème brulée is a sacred act in itself, but when you find velvety pumpkin custard just beneath, it takes it to a whole new level. I particularly love the use of cardamom in this recipe. It blends beautifully with the other spices and creates a flavorful custard that melts in your mouth. Pumpkin pie, lookout, you’ve got some competition!

Recipe from Bon Appétit, November 2008

1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
¼ tsp. ground allspice
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. salt
3 cups heavy whipping cream
About 8 tbsp. raw sugar (such as Turbinado) or light brown sugar
8 5x1-inch oven-proof ramekins (see notes below)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, and light brown sugar. Whisk in the egg yolks, vanilla extract, spices and salt. In a small saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil. Gradually whisk the hot cream into the pumpkin mixture. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.

Evenly ladle the mixture between eight 5x1-inch ramekins. Divide the ramekins between 2 large roasting pans. Add enough hot water to the pans to come halfway up the ramekins (to create a bain-marie). Slide the pans into the oven, being careful not to get any water in the pumpkin custard. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the centers are just set. Let the custards cool at room temperature before transferring to a sheet pan, covering with plastic wrap, and placing in the refrigerator. Chill until cold, about 6 hours or overnight (can be made 2 days ahead).

Sprinkle enough raw sugar over the pumpkin custards to form an even layer. Using a kitchen torch, slowly melt the sugar until it becomes a deep amber (you can also use the broiler method: evenly sprinkle the tops of each custard with light brown sugar- not raw sugar-  and place directly under the broiler until the tops turn a deep amber). Refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow the sugar to harden (can be done 1 hour ahead. Chill until ready to use).

Yield: makes 8 crème brulée

  • You can also make this recipe using 3-inch-diameter ramekins with 1¼-inch-high sides. Bake the custards for about 50 minutes.