The pumpkin craze continues. In today's episode we are going to talk about pumpkin spice creme brûlée. A fancy pumpkin dessert. Over the weekend I learned to make this delicious crunchy topped custard and as it turns out it's not too bad. The trickiest bit is the crunchy tops. If you've never had creme brûlée before let me explain. The top of the custard has caramelized sugar, which results in a sweet and crunchy top. You have to tap-tap-tap your spoon through the hardened sugar on the way to the custard. I tried out two different methods for caramelizing the tops.Pumpkin Spice Creme Brûlée, makes 6-8 small servings, adapted from here.
Needed: 4 cups heavy whipping cream, 1/3 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 3/4 cup sugar, 6 egg yolks and more sugar for the tops (I used a tablespoon for each small ramekin).
In a pot whisk together the cream, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg until well combined. Heat over medium/high heat. Allow it to just begin to boil then remove it from the heat. In the bowl of a mixer combine the sugar and egg yolks. Blend until well combined and the yolks start to lighten in color. Pour 1/2 cup warm cream into the egg batter while the mixer is still running on low. Now slowly add the remaining cream mixture, mixing as you go. Do not over mix. Pour custard batter into prepared ramekins. Have ramekins in a shallow baking sheet. Add water to the baking sheet until it reaches at least half way up the sides of the ramekins. This is a water bath. Bake at 325 F for 35 minutes. I used rather small ramekins, but depending on the size of yours you may need to add another 5-8 minutes of baking time.Once custard has baked remove from the water bath and allow to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and use a kitchen torch or your oven broiler to caramelize the tops. This process can soften your custard slightly, so just stick it back in the refrigerator for a few minutes if needed. I'm not sure if you can tell from this photo but there will be two layers within the custard, as the pumpkin spice layer will settle on the bottoms (like a surprise!).Here you can see a side by side comparison of using a kitchen torch (left side) vs. the oven broiler (right side) for caramelizing the tops. With the torch you have a lot more control. So you can more easily keep the surface uniform and even. But then you have to buy a kitchen torch. So there's that. My oven broiler worked well but as you can see the results are a little less uniform. The broiler also took much less time. Which is a good thing unless you don't pay close attention, as you could easily ruin your custard if you step away for a minute. So although I would have to say I preferred using the torch, if you don't want to buy one then don't be afraid to try your oven broiler out instead. xo. Emma
P.S. Not feeling the pumpkin? No problem. Simply leave out the pumpkin and spices listed above and substitute in the seeds from one vanilla bean.
P.P.S If you do invest in a kitchen torch be sure to check if it comes with butane. If not you may find yourself making a Wal-mart run while your custard sets. ;)