Turkey Day Challenge: Pumpkin creme brulee

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The other day at lunch with Lauren, I was lamenting over my inability to get the consistency of some pumpkin creme brulee just right.  It’s something I’ve been borderline obsessive-compulsive over ever since I roasted those pie pumpkinsturkeyday that came in my CSA share last month.  After another test run, I perfected it - the perfect creme brulee for my 100 Mile Thanksgiving.  The bulk of the ingredients are locally grown - eggs, cream, pumpkin, and maple sugar.

So what was the issue that stymied my efforts?  I’m pretty sure it was the fresh pumpkin puree.  If you’ve ever made a pumpkin pie, you’ve probably dealt with canned pumpkin puree.  It’s thick, like a paste.  Fresh puree is far different.  It’s a little watery.  Sure, I could have cooked it down to get a thicker paste, but what’s the point?  I’d rather do a little experimenting!

Here’s the recipe -

2 cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch ginger
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup fresh pumpkin puree
1/2 c. sugar
maple sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Heat the cream and spices in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk it every now and then until it boils.  Remove from heat and let sit for about 10 minutes.

Combine the yolks with 1/2 cup sugar. Stir with a fork until light in color and the sugar is mixed in.

Pour a little bit of the cream into the yolk/sugar mixture. Whisk well.  Pour a little more of the cream into the yolk/sugar mix.  Keep whisking.  Continue until all the cream has been incorporated. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla.

Place 4 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins in a large roasting pan. Fill the ramekins with the pumpkin mixture. Place the roasting pan on the center shelf of the oven. Carefully pour water into the roasting pan, being careful not to get any into the ramekins. Add enough water to come halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 45 minutes until the custard is set but still jiggles slightly. Remove from the oven and cool. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Note: the original recipe calls for a baking time of 25 to 35 minutes.  I suspect this would work if you use canned puree or your oven runs much hotter than mine.

Sprinkle a thinnish layer of maple sugar over the tops of the brulees. Use a pastry torch to brown the sugar; or, place the ramekins on a baking sheet under a broiler about 4 inches from the heat until the tops brown and bubble, about 1 to 3 minutes. Let cool for 3 minutes and serve.

What an excellent dessert spread we’ll have at Thanksgiving this year - pumpkin creme brulee and apple cake!

Posted by Nicole on 11/20 at 11:40 AM

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