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.
There are a few things that scream “autumn”. Pumpkins, apples, fall foliage, football and Thanksgiving are at the top of my list. A couple several weeks ago, I went apple picking with a group of friends and came home with a big ol’ bag of apples. Apples are notorious for lasting along time (as long as they are not bruised) and I have plans for the other ones I have in my fridge. But for now, I have this recipe for you.
If you’ve never had monkey bread, you’re missing out on some serious yum. If you took cinnamon rolls but made them bite sized and decided to glue them together with some cinnamon sugar, you’ve got monkey bread. Cut up some fresh apple chunks and stuff them in the sweet dough and you have fall in bread form.
I have to be honest. I’ve made and shot this recipe weeks ago and I started writing the first paragraph last week, but things became hectic and that’s as far as I got. But to be fair, I threw a Star Wars Rebels themed party and that kept me quite busy for a several days. I’m excited to share it with you on my next post!
Caramel Apple Monkey Bread
1 ¼ c. milk
2 tsp. instant yeast
4 c. all-purpose flour
5 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small bits
1 ¼ c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Generously spray the inside of a 10 in. Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, warm your milk, add the yeast and whisk to dissolve. (Do not warm it above 110˚F or you will kill the yeast).
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, 5 tbsp. sugar, egg, and salt until combined.
- Slowly add in the milk mixture until combined. Add the 5 tbsp. melted butter and mix until the dough comes together.
- Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook attachment. Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough becomes silky and tacky, but not sticky, about 8-10 minutes.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
- Use your clean hands to push down and deflate the dough. Roll out dough in a rough rectangle, ¼ in. thick. Spread 1/3 of apple bits onto half of the rolled out dough. (As pictured above)
- Fold dough in half and spread another 1/3 of apple bits on another half of the dough and fold once again in half to form a quarter of its original size. (As pictured above)
- Cut dough into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces and roll the pieces into balls (apple pieces may stick out). Place the balls on the sheet pan.
- In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Place the melted butter in a separate bowl.
- Dip one dough ball in the melted butter. Let the excess butter drip back into the bowl, roll the ball in the brown sugar mixture, and place it in the Bundt pan.
- Continue this process with each ball, until halfway where you will scatter the rest of the apple pieces.
- Wrap the Bundt pan tightly in plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until the dough balls have doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake until the top layer is deep brown and the caramel coating begins to bubble around the edges, about 30 minutes.
- Cool the bread for 5 minutes, then turn it out directly onto a platter and serve warm. If you have any leftovers, reheat them in a 300 degree oven until warm to the touch.
Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.