Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Treats For The Grown-Ups

It's nearly Halloween, and there are pumpkins everywhere. So why not here? Now, I don't have any munchkins of my own, as yet, so my fall / Halloween / Thanksgiving get-togethers will be just a wee bit more grown-up. Not too stuffy though, because I'm the first to bail out on a boring party! So when it comes to dessert, I think the adults will get excited about taking some fire-power into their own hands. And while some of you may not agree with me, I think there's something really sexy about a well-made, silky-smooth creme brulee.

I have a tender spot in my heart for these petite French custard pots topped off with a hard caramel top. For one thing, I didn't even have a proper creme brulee till I was in my early 20s. Luckily, the first time was a revelation, because it happened to be in a cute little French bistro tucked away in a busy corner of Paris. After that first time, I made sure that I had a creme brulee every single day that I was in Paris for that vacation - I literally wouldn't bother going in to a restaurant if they didn't have creme brulee on their dessert menu. I don't even care if I lived up to their stereotype of "zat typical Americaaaan" (even though I'm Canadian, please!) by doing that. You see, at that time I had no idea if I was ever going to have a creme brulee back home (naive, I know), which was as good as all the ones that I was feasting on in Paris, so I had no qualms about pigging out (after all, that is what one does on a vacation). Fortunately, I eventually discovered that this dessert isn't too hard to put together at home, and buying that one special little tool for it really empowers you and turns you into the Creme Brulee Queen in your family!

My handy-dandy kitchen torch - it's already done so much good in the world!

Pumpkin Creme Brulee (original Gale Gand recipe from The Food Network)
Serves 4

Click here for printable recipe

1.5 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 pinches ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves (or two whole cloves)
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup coarse sugar or raw sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 300 F.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until it comes to a boil. Then take it off the heat and let the mixture steep for about 15 minutes (take out the whole cloves before going to the next step!).

3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar till it turns creamy, smooth and a lighter shade of yellow. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in the warm cream mixture. Add in the pumpkin puree then whisk it in till completely combined. Pour the mixture into 4 oven-proof ramekins. Place them in a baking pan filled halfway with hot water.

4. Bake these for about 40 mins. The custard should shimmy a bit when you take it out of the oven. Let the ramekins cool on your counter for about an hour, then cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
Good enough to eat right now, but these get even better after the next step.

5. It's best to brulee these just before you serve. Sprinkle the raw sugar in an even layer over the top of the custards. You can either stick them under your oven broiler for a few seconds (watch them like a hawk), or use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar till it melts, darkens and then hardens after a minute or two. This will create the perfect caramel top that you will hear that satisfying crack from when you dig into it with your spoon.

I like to use raw cane sugar for the topping on creme brulees - I think it caramelizes better.

Burn, baby, burn!

The perfect play on hard and soft textures. Gimmegimmegimme!

Verdict: I adore this version of creme brulee, and have made it a number of times over the years. It's so fragrant and packed full of lovely flavors. I'm also rather proud to be the one to introduce the magic of creme brulees into DH's life. It was so much fun to see his face change when he took his first-ever bite. This is now one of his all-time favorite desserts - he just wishes there was more of it. As a matter of fact, now he is the one who orders creme brulee at restaurants if they happen to have it on their dessert menu. So try out this pumpkin recipe for your next party, and let everyone torch their own individual creme brulees - assuming they're all sober and adult enough to handle all that power in their hands!
Don't you just want to dive right in?!


Unknown said...

What a fabulous idea! You did such a good job on these. Hope you have a wonderful weekend and an awesome Halloween!

Mari said...

wow this recipe left me speechless

Future Grown-Up said...

Now bear in mind that I am not a pumpkin fan apart from it in baked versions like breads and cupcakes.

That said, this looks good enough for me to step out of my pumpkin phobia and give it a shot. I am definitely making this soon.

Great job with the creme brulee. And thanks for making me laugh out loud at the library when I read the "burn baby burn" photo caption :)

Foodiewife said...

Wow. You hit another soft spot with me. I adore brulee and I've made a version like this. I love it. Hubs brings out his big tank and industrial hose (don't go there...) and I use that for a serious torch!

Hey. Email me, at, please? I wanted to run something food related by you!

Man, I wish I had a bite of that!

Duchess of Tea said...

Darling put the kettle on, I am coming over for tea and this delicious looking pumpkin creation. I will try this recipe when life returns to normal. Have a sweet halloween darling.

Love & hugs

Ann said...

OMG!! mouth watering.. Just by the look I can bet it must be YUMMyLICIOUS!

Varsha Vipins said...

Sounds soo much fun n yum..I'd really love to hold a torch n burn my own brulee..weee..:D

Cathy said...

I'm a creme brulee junkie! Current fave is a chocolate mint bailey's creme brulee...but seeing how I'm also a pumpkin fanatic, this looks like it could upend my favuorite!

Anonymous said...

I'm loving this pumpkin creation - creme brulee sounds heavenly! Happy Halloween!

Heather S-G said...

I adore creme brulee in general!! Seriously, I swoon over it. This version sounds super delicious, I'm going to have to try it!

Donna-FFW said...

What an elegant gorgeous dessert. Brilliant . Id love to try this.

I want a torch.

3 hungry tummies said...

will try this tonight but will have to use the torch in my studio :)

Deeba PAB said...

Love this kind of pigging out Muneeba,way up my street! I'm also in the middle of a pumpkin love affair, and now badly want a blow torch! I want to be a brulee queen too...yum! Made an apple version of your recent peach post with browned butter & it was delish. Made it twice actually thanks to my tin of ghee/clarified butter & life is on a calorific roll!

Kerstin said...

Mmmm, pumpkin creme brulee sounds fabulous! I really want to get a torch.

Doppelganger said...

That looks like the perfectly decadent treat to share with someone special! I haven't had creme brulee yet! I know, I know, it's inexcusable, but I figure I have one more delicious looking thing waiting for me to out there! Yummmm for some anticipation! Now I just need to go buy myself a kitchen torch!

Jennifer said...

I just purchased one of those torches, you have inspired me to make those!!!!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

MMmmm. Torching the tops of food is so fun. I made my crustless pumpkin pie the other day and torched some sugar on top of the slices. Turning it into a creme brulee sounds even more decadent.

Faith said...

This is quite possibly the best looking creme brulee I've seen...ever! I can imagine how the pumpkin and warm spices bring so much excitement to this dessert. And the best part for me is that lovely, silky interior.

s said...

i love looks so delish...

Jamie said...

Oh, Muneeba, I know how you feel about a creamy, sexy crème brulée! And pumpkin? Amazing! Yours is really perfect! What texture! Wow! Beautiful and now that's what I want to eat.

Joanne said...

Creme brulee is one of my favorite desserts as well! For restaurant week here in NY, I refused to go to any restaurant that didn't have it on its dessert menu.

I love this pumpkin version. Now I just need to get me a torch, and I will be making this ASAP.

Malar Gandhi said...

Hmmm, super the part + art' of caramelizing it...too good.