My favorite holiday EVER is Thanksgiving. Christmas is a close second. My argument for Thanksgiving trumping Christmas is that it is all about family time. No holiday shopping stress, crazy decorations, party obligations or unhappy people not getting what they wanted, it’s all about spending time together and relaxing and eating. I honestly think sharing a meal brings people closer together and the Thanksgiving table is a prime example. Perfectly roasted turkey, savory stuffing, crisp salads, fluffy mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce and luscious gravy come together for the perfect meal. But after that perfect meal comes the pans of pumpkin, pecan and apple pies, there is probably something with chocolate on the table (because what kind of dessert menu lacks chocolate) and this pumpkin crème brulee.
Something about crème brulee makes everyone happy. It’s sophisticated enough for the adults but is also kid-friendly because it’s pretty much a fancy pudding cup. I love the contrast of the crisp crunch of the caramelized sugar and the perfectly smooth custard. Plus that ever so slightly bitter burnt taste of the sugar pairs well with the sweetness underneath. I’ve made this recipe two Thanksgivings in a row because it’s so good, like people-are-scraping-the-bottom-of-the-ramekin good. It’s super easy but it always has that “oo la la” factor when it shows up on the table. Plus, you make it a day before so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. You just sprinkle the top with sugar and torch it before serving. I know that it’s proper for the caramelized sugar layer to be thin, but I like mine extra thick so that I get more substantial shards of sugar in my crème brulee.
Pumpkin Crème Brulee
1 ½ c. heavy cream
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
5 egg yolks
½ c. sugar, plus extra for torching
¾ c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Boil a kettle full of water for the water bath.
2. In a medium pot, heat heavy cream, cinnamon and nutmeg together until it simmers.
3. In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks and ½ c. sugar until combined.
4. Slowly stream a ladleful of heavy cream mixture into the egg yolks, while whisking the egg yolks to avoid curdling your egg mixture.
5. Continue to slowly add the rest of the heavy cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture until completely mixed.
6. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a separate bowl.
7. Whisk in pumpkin puree and vanilla into the custard mixture.
8. In a large roasting or baking pan, arrange five 7 oz. ramekins. Split the custard mixture evenly amongst the ramekins.
9. Place the pan into the oven and pour hot water into the baking pan until it comes at least half way up the ramekins. Avoid getting water into the ramekins.
10. Bake about 30-40 minutes until the center of the custard is just set. You will know this when you jiggle the ramekin and the custard jiggles just in the center.
11. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool and cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating the ramekins for at least 4 hours or overnight.
12. When ready to serve, remove ramekins from the fridge and add a spoonful of sugar in to the ramekin, rotating it for even coverage. Use a butane torch to caramelize the sugar until dark brown and even. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Use Real Butter.