I'm not generally a fan of desserts with a custard-like texture; things like flan, pudding, and even pumpkin pie have never really held much appeal for me. And up until last year, crème brûlée was on that list too. I shunned it my whole life, assuming I wouldn't like it and then was proven completely wrong last year when I made it for the first time. Don't ask me to explain, it really doesn't make any sense why I'm such a huge fan considering I still don't enjoy other desserts with a similar custard texture.
Where at one time I'd never think of ordering crème brûlée for dessert when we were out for dinner, now I specifically check the menu to see if it's available! I actually had it once when we were down in Mexico last month, but honestly it was just ok. I knew the one I'd made at home was better :) The experience inspired me to tackle this seasonal version of crème brûlée when we got back from our trip.
I had high expectations for this pumpkin pie crème brûlée and it exceeded them in every way. The thick sugary crust on top gave way to a smooth, creamy custard below, and that custard had the most vibrant orange color. My pictures really don't do it justice so you'll just have to take my word for it. The addition of pumpkin puree and lots of warm fall spices really do make the flavor of this dessert very reminiscent of pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving is just over a month away (seriously, so crazy) and if you're looking to make a splash with dessert, you can't go wrong with this pumpkin pie crème brûlée! You can even make it a few days in advance and then at the last minute all you have to do is caramelize the sugar on top. Your guests will never know just how easy it was :)
Pumpkin Pie Crème Brûlée
from Emeril Lagasse via Food Network
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
8 teaspoons turbinado sugar (for finishing)
Preheat oven to 325 F. Place a kitchen towel in the bottom of a roasting pan and place eight (4 oz) ramekins/fluted dishes on the towel. Set a saucepan of water on the stove and bring to a boil.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the heavy cream, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Set over medium to medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally to help dissolve the sugar.
Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks together until frothy and pale in color. Slowly begin adding the warm cream mixture, whisking constantly. Gradually continue whisking in the warm cream until it's all incorporated and the mixture is uniform in color. Whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree until incorporated. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof measuring cup (discard any bits of egg captured by the strainer). Pour the mixture into the ramekin/fluted dishes, dividing it evenly among them.
Transfer the roasting pan to your oven rack, and then pour the boiling water into the pan (carefully, you don't want to get any water in the ramekin). The boiling water should come about 1/2 of the way up the sides of the small ramekins/fluted dishes you're using. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 170-175 F - the custards will be just barely set. Baking time will vary depending on the size dish you used - my dishes were only about 3 oz and took 25 minutes. If you use the larger 1/2 cup ramekins indicated in the recipe your baking time will be longer. Checking the temperature with an instant-read thermometer will be the best way to determine baking time. Begin checking the temperature about 20-25 minutes in and you'll get a good sense of how much longer they have.
Transfer the roasting pan to a wire rack. When the ramekins are cool enough to handle, take them out of the pan and place on the wire rack. Allow to cool completely. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and cover the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 4 days.
When ready to serve: Remove the plastic wrap and use a paper towel to gently soak up any condensation that's collected on the custards. Sprinkle each dish with about 1 teaspoon of turbinado sugar. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes (don't let them sit longer than that) to re-chill before serving.