Crème brûlée is one of my Mother's all-time favorite desserts. Admittedly, it may be more 1980s than 2013, but any custard--especially one topped with a crackly caramelized sugar shell...well, it's sugar and it caramelized, what's not to like?
I invited my Mother and brother last weekend for football and dinner...my Mom is the "Queen of Dessert", especially...."Creme Brulee". I wanted to throw a "Quarterback Sneak" into her normal Vanilla Creme Brulee that I make her, so here's what I did. In creating this pumpkin version, I used Eva Kenly's basic crème brûlée recipe as a starting point, finding it to be the perfect cream to milk to sugar ratio. From there, I decided to swap out the white sugar for brown sugar, add pure vanilla extract for the vanilla bean, and lightly spice with cinnamon and Pumpkin Pie spice and of course add the Pumpkin puree. To enhance the caramel notes, I sprinkled a little sea salt on top of the chilled custards before adding the raw sugar and torching them. That way, each time you crack through the hard caramel to the creamy, vanilla custard, you get a sinfully delicious, salty, sweet, pumpkin-spiced bite.
Pumpkin Creme Brulee
- 2 c. heavy cream
- 1/4 c. light brown sugar
- 1/4 c. sugar, plus 4 teaspoons(for topping)
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice
- 1 c. pumpkin puree
- Sea salt
Arrange 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan.
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until light colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or spouted bowl. Divide among the prepared custard cups.
Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 40 minutes to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Sprinkle each custard with a little sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Or, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, every 1 to 2 minutes.)
Place on small dessert plates and serve.
The creamy texture and crispy burnt sugar crust are a winning combination. You can make the custard the day before and torch the top just before serving. You could serve a little Ginger Snap cookie with this too!