Creme brulee most commonly comes in vanilla, but that isn’t the only flavor that it can be! This pumpkin creme brulee offers a seasonal twist on this French favorite for an elegant holiday dessert option.
This Dessert is Like the Perfect Combination of Creme Brulee and Pumpkin Pie
A creme brulee is a delicate custard that is rich with cream and egg yolks. A good one should melt in your mouth after you break through the crisp crust of caramelized sugar that sits on top — and this one is a good one.
A pumpkin pie is a custard made with lots of pumpkin, milk, sugar and eggs. While the eggs hold the filling together, the pumpkin gives the pie its distinct texture. In this recipe, there’s only enough pump to flavor it.
Like a traditional creme brulee, the velvety texture of this dessert comes from a combination of cream and egg yolks. The custard is infused with pumpkin pie spices and has a hint of brown sugar, though it is not overly sweet.
Once you’ve prepared the custard, it should be divided into ramekins and placed into a water bath to bake. The water bath insulates the custard while it’s in the oven, so it doesn’t overcook. If you don’t use a water bath, your dessert might look more like scrambled eggs than smooth custard.
You do Need a Few Pieces of Special Equipment for this Recipe
You can buy ramekins made specifically for creme brulee at home goods stores, at kitchen supply stores and online. Creme brulee ramekins are shallower than most other ramekins, which provides a lot of surface area for a crisp, burnt-sugar topping and ensures that you get a great sugar-to-custard ratio.
I prefer to use smaller ramekins (2 ounces) and fill them all the way to the top, but you can also use 3- or 4-ounce ramekins.
You can bake creme brulee in deeper ramekins, but make sure they’re either about the same volume or simply fill them part way up. Alternatively, you could double the recipe and fill larger ramekins to the top, if you really want to indulge!
That said, I recommend sticking with the shallower ramekins. They can double as dip dishes when you’re not baking custards.
A Kitchen Torch
Yes, you will need a kitchen torch for caramelizing the sugar on top of the custards. A torch is the best way to quickly and easily caramelize the sugar into a crisp crust. You can find them at kitchen supply stores and at the hardware store.
If you don’t have a kitchen torch — and keep in mind that they’re fun to have around! — you can heat up the broiler, place your custards on a baking sheet, and hold them close to the flame. Here’s a bit more about making creme brulee without a torch.
Pumpkin Creme Brulee Recipe
Makes 4 servings
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 300 F. Place four shallow ramekins (2-4 ounces each) in a baking dish.
In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream, milk and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the brown sugar.
As the cream heats up, whisk together egg yolks, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.
Slowly stream in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously to temper the eggs without cooking them. Whisk in vanilla extract.
Strain the pumpkin mixture through a fine strainer into a large measuring cup to remove any lumps.
Divide pumpkin mixture evenly between prepared ramekins. Fill baking dish containing ramekins with hot water until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Place pan in oven and bake custards for 25-30 minutes, or until the custards are set. Allow custards to cool in the water bath, then refrigerate until cold (at least 2 hours).
Before serving, cover each custard with a thin layer of sugar, turning the ramekin to coat the surface of the custard.
Caramelize sugar with a kitchen torch. Serve immediately.