31 While 31–Pumpkin Créme Brulée

Oh yes, I said it.  Pumpkin créme brulée.  And it was every bit as delicious as I hope it would be…eventually.  You see, this 31 while 31 choice definitely taught me a thing or three.

Lesson one–When Cook’s Illustrated tells you not to brulée the sugar under a broiler, listen to them.  They say using the broiler leads to uneven heat distribution and thus uneven melting of the sugar.  I knew they were right, but after discovering my kitchen torch was out of butane (seriously, this dessert was a bit of a comedy of errors) I had no choice but to use the broiler.  And the sugar did not melt and harden evenly.  Even worse, the length of time it required to get spots with good color was long enough to melt the cooled créme into warm liquid.  Fail.  Luckily I actually got five servings out of this recipe, so I grabbed two of the créme brulées pumpkin pots de créme from the fridge.

Lesson two–Some kitchen torches are more like flame throwers, even on the lowest setting.  Be sure you test yours out in a large clear area.

Lesson three–Once you have your créme cooled and set and your kitchen torch working, use superfine or caster sugar for the tops.  If you can’t find it or don’t want to buy it, just pulse regular granulated sugar in a small food processor a few times.  The smaller granules allow the sugar to brulée faster which, in turn, prevents the bit of custard underneath from melting at all.  It’s imperative, in my opinion.

But after all of this, we got to enjoy an amazing dessert.  Not as a fantastic finish to our meal of roast pork with port jus and chipotle-glazed apples, unfortunately.  But once my spoon finally made that tell-tale noise of cracking through the bruléed sugar and I tasted the creamy, perfectly spiced fall flavors, it was all worth it.

Pumpkin Créme Brulée

from Williams-Sonoma


1 1/2 c. heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp. freshly grated cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger

3/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

5 egg yolks

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

6 TBSP pumpkin puree

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1 TBSP firmly packed light brown sugar 

4-5 tsp. superfine or caster sugar


1.  Preheat an oven to 300°F. Have a pot of boiling water ready.

2.  Pour cream into a small saucepan and whisk in cinnamon,
allspice, ginger and nutmeg. Set over medium-low heat and warm the cream
mixture until bubbles form around the edges of the pan and steam begins
to rise from the surface, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let
stand 15 minutes.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, vanilla, salt, pumpkin, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smooth and
blended. Slowly pour in the cream mixture, stirring until blended. Pour
the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. 

4.  Divide the
mixture among four 8-fl.-oz. ramekins and place in a large baking pan.
Add boiling water to fill the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Cover pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake until custards are
just set around the edges, about 30 minutes.

5.  Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 3

6.  Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tsp. superfine or caster sugar evenly over the
surface of each custard. Using a kitchen torch according to the
manufacturer’s instructions, move the flame continuously in small
circles over the surface until the sugar melts and lightly browns. Serve
immediately. Serves 4-5.

one year ago: pita bread

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  1. Eva
    October 26, 2011 / 4:04 pm

    What a great twist on the traditional creme brulee! I may have to try this soon.

  2. Erin
    October 26, 2011 / 8:04 pm

    I have only ever had traditional creme brulee, but this sounds wonderful!

  3. Emily (In Progress)
    October 26, 2011 / 8:22 pm

    Looks and sounds delicous! I love your 31 by 31 list! I just did a 30 by 30, I hope I can accomplish as many as you have!

  4. Heather Lynne
    October 26, 2011 / 8:37 pm

    I love creme brulee but am so intimidated by it! I have a 31 while 31 list I'm working on and I love reading the lists of others! Good luck!

  5. Krissy
    October 26, 2011 / 10:43 pm

    I saw a recipe similar from Food Network, but have yet to make it because I am scared. I will work up the courage soon, beautiful pictures!

  6. Laurel @ Lolly's Sweet Treats
    October 27, 2011 / 12:07 am

    What a brilliant idea. It looks fantastic!

  7. Nikki
    October 27, 2011 / 3:36 am

    Are you KIDDING me!? YUM! I've been on the look-out for a creme brulee recipe because I bought some cute ramekins from the dollar store (blush) that will be perfect! This might just have to be the one I try. mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!! Thanks for all your "lessons learned," too. Very helpful. 🙂

  8. That Girl
    October 27, 2011 / 5:31 pm

    This sounds like a dessert worth all the fails.

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