Pumpkin Crème Brûlée & How to Caramelize Crème Brûlée Video

by on November 21, 2010

Before writing this post I almost stumbled into saying that some of our other pumpkin recipes were boring. But then after reading another’s brilliant post on a completely different non-food topic, I realized this wasn’t accurate. Skilled writers are more than a mere pleasure to read, they make you think. Their words stimulate the mind, help keep us from stumbling through life mindlessly reacting and reaching.

Roger Ebert recently wrote on his blog some thoughts on loneliness. He remarked how he has never felt particularly lonely. Beginning as a child then continuing throughout his growing and mature life, he would embrace time alone, even casting himself into “pleasurable exile.”  This was something which I could deeply relate to.

Growing up on a cattle ranch, with only about 6 or 7 neighboring households in a 10 mile circle, being comfortable when alone gets hardwired into the soul. “Self-contained” as Mr. Ebert writes.

Being alone, even when surrounded by people, allows the pleasure of pondering, exploring, and observing much easier than when engaged in the interaction of society. This ingrained mindset of continually thinking and mentally exploring also combats another dreary psychological state, boredom. Neither Diane or I find ourselves getting bored. Our heads won’t let us.

A short while ago in a post we mentioned being bored with our ole stand-bys for butternut squash.  In reflection, boredom wasn’t a fair way to describe it.  The recipes mentioned, when perfectly made, still bring a soul warming delight and we relish in eating them, but our minds and palates are always seeking and observing life around us. To find an alternative way of preparing an ingredient is something which is brings a different pleasure, however that doesn’t result in taking away from the love of the “ole stand-by”.

Hot from the oven, fresh pumpkin puree for the creme brulee

If we are enjoying the satisfying pleasure and love of the familiar and traditional, which brings a joy deep into the soul the way very few things can, or whether we are enjoying something new, stimulating the senses to a heightened level as they become roused by the unfamiliar, either way we still enjoy the delectable consumption. The thrill in one doesn’t denigrate the satisfaction of the other.

With Thanksgiving in the eminent near future, such as this Thursday (crazy!) the  menu planning is hitting the final stages and dessert is still to be determined. Normally I’ll make a white chocolate pumpkin cheesecake and it is really good.  However our mischievously wandering minds have also been contemplating something new, a brown sugar pumpkin crème brûlée.

Two caramel options: Top has super-fine sugar, bottom has brown sugar

Decision, decisions. Shall we feast upon the comforting and deliciously familiar or shall we change things up a bit and offer a dessert different from anything we’ve had in the past?

This pumpkin crème brûlée recipe is really good… Especially when using our home roasted pumpkin puree and freshly grated Vietnamese cinnamon. Although the pumpkin cheesecake gets the same treatment plus fresh ginger in the graham cracker crust.  Damn, the decision in getting even harder.

The pumpkin crème brûlée is easier and quick to make.  Hmmm.  Either way dessert will not be a bore!

- Todd

Video we produced for Thermadorshowing you How to Caramelize Creme Brulee – Chef Kyle from Thermadorgive great tips on how to safely and effectively create the perfect creme brulee top!

oh yum, all gone!

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Crème Brûlée Recipe

Yield: eight 5" crème brûlées

Total Time: 1 hour

This is almost like a pumpkin pie without the crust.  But with a crusty caramelized sugar top.  It is also a great option if you have gluten-free people to consider, a topic which obviously has come to the forefront of allergy concerns. For us the decision to make it is just pure tastiness. There are several options for the caramelized top: an oven-dried brown sugar, superfine sugar, raw sugar, and regular sugar. Each have their merit.  The brown sugar has a great flavor, but can burn a little too easily and doesn't develop a thin-ice like structure (some may like it's texture better if regular crème brûlée toppings are too firm for them.) Super fine is fantastic for a super thin-ice crust. It's great to have on hand for cocktails too!

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz (425g) Pumpkin Puree, preferably home roasted
  • 3/4 c (200g) Brown Sugar
  • 5 lrg Egg Yolks
  • 2 t (10ml) Vanilla Extract
  • 1 t (3g) ground Cinnamon, freshly grated Vietnamese Cinnamon if you can find it
  • 1/4 t ground Allspice
  • 1/4 t ground Clove
  • 1/4 t ground Cardamom
  • 1/4 t Sea Salt
  • 3 c (700ml) Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 8 T Brown Sugar, or other preferred sugar for topping crème brûlées

Directions:

    Preheat oven to 325°F

  1. Combine pumpkin puree, 3/4 c brown sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, spices, and sea salt  in a med. bowl.  Whisk to combine.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat whipping cream just to a boil. While cream heats, also begin heating a teapot full of water to use in the bain marie for baking the crème brûlées. Gradually whisk hot cream into pumpkin puree mix.
  3. Place 8 - 5" diameter x 1" deep ramekins into 2 large roasting pans. Carefully divide mixture evenly between the ramekins. Using a funnel to avoid splashing, pour enough water into the roasting pans to come 3/4's up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully place roasting pans in oven. (Alternately - place roasting pan w/o water on oven rack pulled partially out. Fill it with water 3/4's up the sides of the ramekins, then carefully slide rack into oven.)
  4. Bake until custards are just set (edges will be set but the center will still have a little wiggly when gently shook), about 35 minutes. (If you over bake the custards they will get tough and loose their smoothness, and if you under bake they will be a little runny.) Carefully remove custards from oven, then using a spatula, remove ramekins from water bath and place on a towel.  Cool slightly at room temperature, then refrigerate custards until cold.
  5. If using brown sugar for the topping, preheat oven to 300°F. Line a sheet pan with baking paper, spread out brown sugar into an even, thin layer.  Put in oven for a until it starts to dry out (@3-5 min.).  Remove from oven, allow to cool, then roll with a rolling pin to break up into granules again.  Reserve until you are ready to serve the creme brulees.
  6. When ready to serve, spread an even thin layer of dried brown sugar (or whatever sugar you are using). Using a torch or under the broiler, melt and caramelize sugar.  Allow to cool to set sugar, then serve.
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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More Creme Brulee Recipes:

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristen November 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I made creme brulee this weekend and got sick because I ate too much of it. Needless to say, I could gorge myself silly on this dessert.
Love your photos, as always! A fresh from the oven roasted pumpkin has never looked so good!

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2 Maria November 21, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Pumpkin creme brulee sounds amazing! Love the video and of course your photos are stunning! I could look at them all day!

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3 The Blue-Eyed Bakers November 21, 2010 at 7:53 pm

And here we were thinking we had our dessert plans all squared away for the holiday…now we see this delicious thing and completely have to rethink the whole plan…

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4 Nisrine November 21, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Pretty pictture and even prettier recipe. This has to taste amazing.

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5 Ami @ beyondpeasandcarrots November 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm

ohhhh this looks soooo good!! I am going to have to pick up the ingredients to make this asap!!

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6 Susan November 21, 2010 at 8:09 pm

This looks positively divine! I have wanted one of those little kitchen torches FOREVER. This Christmas, if nobody gets the hint, I’m buying it myself.

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7 Sally November 21, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I really relate to this: Neither Diane or I find ourselves getting bored. Our heads won’t let us.
However, I am a bit…dare I say… bored with the amount of pumpkin recipes out there at the moment. This different take, great recipe and really helpful video is far from tedious. Worth taking the time to read even when my head is swirling!

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8 Jeanette November 22, 2010 at 4:11 am

I always enjoy your gorgeous photos, and this video really made the brulee look easy. I bet brulee would make a nice vegan option for sweet potato casserole, although much denser than your luscious pumpkin custard.

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9 Nancy Baggett November 22, 2010 at 7:10 am

Beautiful photos, fine work as always. Also saw your video for Shauna–absolutely stunning.

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10 bunkycooks November 22, 2010 at 7:12 am

I am going to try your recipe for this. It looks so creamy! I tried one with some of my stash of pumpkins (with fresh puree) and it was not very good, so on to Plan B! I just need the heavy cream. BTW, Mr. B has a propane torch that he uses to brown the sugar on the creme brulee. That thing could take a house down! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! :)

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11 Sues November 22, 2010 at 7:26 am

It’s so fabulous to have this in video form! Your photos are absolutely beautiful and I love your little dishes :)

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12 Gaby November 22, 2010 at 7:33 am

omg I need these in my life asap!! They look heavenly and would make the perfect ending to any holiday table :)

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13 the urban baker November 22, 2010 at 7:36 am

This is beautiful on EVERY level. Your words make me calm and the photos make me warm. Thank you for warming me up on this very, very cold November morning!

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14 Deeba November 22, 2010 at 7:46 am

Me likey…very much! Your pictures are beautiful!

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15 Shay November 22, 2010 at 8:07 am

All I can say is…”DELICIOUS!” I love crème brûlée and this looks fantastic. Can’t wait to try this recipe.

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16 My Little Expat Kitchen November 22, 2010 at 9:43 am

I have to make some crème brûlée…now! I’m mesmerized by your beautiful photographs.
Magda

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17 marla {family fresh cooking} November 22, 2010 at 10:47 am

Great video & very helpful! Love how you guys show us how different the two sugars look like when caramelized. I cannot believe how different they look. Thanks for sharing FALL with us. Very beautiful.
I am in your camp – my mind is very busy & I adore time alone. I often have to put myself in my own “time-outs” and then I am much more pleasurable company :)

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18 joudie's Mood Food November 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Pumpkin creme bruleé. What can i say apart from… ” i would like an invite please when you make something like this! Absolutely foaming at the mouth! The pictures area Wonderful! I can taste this through the screen!!!!

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19 Oui, Chef November 22, 2010 at 7:02 pm

There are very few creme brulee flavors I like better than the classic vanilla, but pumpkin is one of them, the flavor just seems born to be made into a creme brulee. The creaminess of your custard is perfect, I can’t wait to try this recipe. – S

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20 Sharlene November 22, 2010 at 7:02 pm

This was a beautiful post. “Pumpkin pie without a crust” sounds fantastic! Perfect reason for me to finally get my act together and get a blowtorch, but I’ll settle for the broiler for now!

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21 Fragolina November 23, 2010 at 1:45 am

The two photos of the pumpkins are so beautiful, so real. I really enjoy your pictures!!

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22 Cookin' Canuck November 23, 2010 at 7:14 am

This creme brulee is beyond beautiful! What a wonderful take on Thanksgiving desserts.

Growing up an only child, I had plenty of “alone” time. To this day, I savor those moments when I can have time to myself and get to play with my thoughts. As much as I adore being surrounded by family and friends, I will never get bored of my moments of solitude.

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23 Lianna November 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Im definitely going to make this tomorrow! with chocolate pumpkin pie mmmmm http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/recipes/desserts-a-goodies-/chocolate-pumpkin-pie

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24 Sneh Roy November 23, 2010 at 3:38 pm

This is so gorgeous! Looks so creamy and lush! :-)

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25 grandmother November 24, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I love crème brûlée, and this photo is so inviting. I have to make some to.

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26 Dani November 26, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Finally got my wi-fi modem installed and guess who I visit – the drooliest blog on the Internet! Hope you two had a marvelous Thanksgiving. xoxox

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27 Scott at Real Epicurean November 27, 2010 at 9:31 am

I think I would end up a bit poorly if I was presented with this whole portion of creme brulee…I wouldn’t be able to resist eating every last bit!

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28 Quinces and the Pea November 28, 2010 at 9:15 pm

looks heavenly! I’ve just roasted and pureed a 12 pound rouge vif d’etampes pumpkin and am figuring out what to do with 4 quarts of pumpkin! I may have to give this a try!

I love your pictures – absolutely beautiful!

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29 Dinetonite December 3, 2010 at 8:00 am

You have missed my most favorite when it comes to pumpkin: Cold pumpkin soup.

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30 Soma December 3, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I love pumpkins, but everything savory. I am still not sure why I could not get myself to like anything sweet pumpkin.. But your photos are so gorgeous and the recipe looks so creamy, I feel like trying. :D

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