Pumpkin Pots de Crème

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I’m exceptionally fond of combining my obsessions.

Sometimes it’s not so great.  Take Homer Simpson’s fabled “Nuts and Gum”,  par example…

Sometimes, however, it works great.

When you put together dark chocolate ganache and pie crust you get Dark Chocolate Truffle Tarts.  A happy accident if ever there was one…

This is reason enough to keep tart shells in the freezer, no?

This is reason enough to keep tart shells in the freezer, no?

I might’ve mentioned that I’m obsessed with Autumn.  (Here, here or here…)  At one point or another, I might have also mentioned that I’m obsessed with baked custard.  (See here for evidence.)

These marvelous obsessions combine to result in the Pumpkin* Pots de Crème (baked pumpkin custards) that I made a couple days ago.  The Evil Genius likes them just like this.  Simple and lovely.

*Can you think of anything that screams ‘Fall’ more than pumpkin?

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I did some naughty, wicked things to it.  I turned one (or several) into the fiercest, most autumnal crème brûlée ever made.

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Since I was already on the road to a much wider backside, I took another one (or five) and topped it with whipped cream flavored with brandy and vanilla.  I sneaked some chopped, toasted walnuts in there and shaved a little fresh nutmeg over the top. Yes, I did.  So help me.

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I love all you readers so much that I took the bullet for you and ate at least three of each kind:  You know, to make sure they were good enough to post here.  And then I made a mad dash for the treadmill where I promptly sat down and took a long Fall nap.  (The treadmill is nice and long.  Plus, you can incline your head so it’s a great place for a seriously comfortable snooze.)

After the aforementioned research, I can attest to three things:  One- these things are lip-smacking, toe-tapping good.  They’re good enough to make whoever eats them love you forever.  Two- They’re light and fluffy to the point where they’re almost like a pumpkin mousse.  Not to get all Iron Chef-y on you, but it’s like a pumpkin cloud singing in your mouth. Three- It’s entirely too easy to eat an entire batch of these by yourself but it’s a blissful way to go.

For a printer-friendly, photo-free version of this recipe, click here!

Pumpkin Pots de Crème (Baked Pumpkin Custards)

Yield: 6 (5 ounce) custard cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (Because skim milk cancels out the heavy cream, right?  I’m pretty sure that’s scientific.)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar or vanilla sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (either homemade or canned)
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • Optional toppings: Sugar for brûléeing or additional heavy whipping cream, brandy, vanilla, nutmeg and toasted, chopped nuts.

Preheat oven to 325F and put a kettle of water on the stove over high heat to boil.

Bring cream and milk just to a boil in a heavy- bottomed pan. Shut heat off immediately and set aside off of the burner.

Blend egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand blender or whisk until the yolks are a light lemony color and thickened.  Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin puree to the egg mixture and blend until smooth. Slowly add hot cream while the mixer is running (or while whisking constantly.) Continue blending in cream until it is all incorporated. Now here’s a little exercise in free-will.  You can choose to skim the foam off the top or you can choose to leave it.  Removing the foam gives you a smoother texture on top of your custard.  I kind of like the little foamy bubbles, personally, so I usually leave it where it is.  More custard is always a good thing, right?

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Divide evenly between custard cups or ramekins. Place ramekins in a roasting pan.

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I usually leave a couple of the ramekins out until I’ve poured the boiling water so that I don’t have to worry about accidentally diluting that glorious custard with water.  If you try it my way, just be sure to remember to leave the water level slightly lower since it will rise when you add the two or so extra cups.  Carefully pour boiling water into the pan so that it comes about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Lay a sheet of foil over the top (do not crimp the foil- it should be loose!) and place pan in the oven. Be careful when transferring to the oven.  We’re talking about a lot of hot, sloshy liquid here.  Feel free to put the pan IN the oven before adding the boiling water, but you’ll have to move more quickly if you do that to prevent the oven from losing too much heat!

Bake for 40 minutes or until the custard is mostly set but not hard. Remove from oven, carefully transfer ramekins over to a cooling rack using tongs or your hand in a silicone oven mitt and allow to cool until you can easily handle them.

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Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custards to prevent them from forming a skin and refrigerate until completely cool (at least 2-3 hours.)

To brûlée:

Set up a heat-proof surface on which you can place the custard-filled ramekins while you attack them with a torch.  A good, safe way to do this is to place a stainless-steel cooling rack over an empty broiler pan on top of the stove or other heat-proof area.

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Remove plastic wrap from one ramekin and sprinkle about 1 Tablespoon of sugar in an even coat over the surface of the custard.

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Tilt the ramekin around so that the sugar completely covers the custard.

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Use a butane torch or broiler to melt and caramelize the sugar. Please take note that I don’t have a fancy-pants culinary torch.  I have a big old camping torch that does the job beautifully.  And it only cost me $20 at my local Walmart.  That’s just how I roll, people.

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It is easiest to control the degree of caramelization with a hand-held torch. Allow to sit for 2 minutes to let the sugar crust harden before serving.

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And then you’re going to want to do this.

pumpkinpotsdecreme2And this.

pumpkinpotsdecrem32And, oh help me! This.

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Sigh.

pumpkinpotsdecreme5Mmmmm…

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Okay.  Bliss.  Pure bliss.  But there’s more…

For brandy and vanilla whipped cream:

Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a metal bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Add 1 Tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and 1-1/2 teaspoons brandy. Continue to whisk until firm peaks form. Spoon on top of the custards.  Dust with a little fresh grated nutmeg (and chopped nuts, if desired.)

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See that pretty little doll0p of brandy and vanilla whipped cream and the delicate sprinkle of nutmeg?  That’s how you serve it for company.  This is how you serve it for yourself.  Or me, if I happen to be visiting.

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Hey.  Did I ever tell you the story about how my mom used to serve mixing bowls of ice cream to people when they asked for “just a little bit in a bowl”?  It was hilarious because they were trying to be demure and my mom gave them a whole bunch.  Everybody protested, but they secretly loved her for her generous hand with the ice cream.

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“Oh gee, you shouldn’t have added that extra dollop.  Really, I was just telling a story about my mom.  I couldn’t possibly eat that…”

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(Phew.  I’m glad she picked up on that.  I was beginning to think I might have to distract her and grab the bowl of whipped cream myself.)  Carry on…

Comments

  1. Marlene Lockett says:

    Love your blog! Following it now.

  2. these look delicious! wanted to let you know i couldn’t resist posting about these on my own blog and i haven’t even tried to make them yet!

  3. Marlene- So happy! Grab a cup of tea and settle in!

    Erin- Thank you!

  4. You take great pictures. But how do you take them with one hand when you’re holding a blowtorch in the other?

  5. Crème Brûlée is right up there with cheesecake and pie (well, almost pie.) That moment when your spoon cracks the sugar shell and dives into the custard (as you picture so well.) Divine.

    • Jodee- Livin’ on the edge. I’m just a rebel. (I use a tripod.)

      Amy- I think creme brulee might be a complete food. Let’s see, calcium, protein, fiber (from the pumpkin), carbs, vitamins and minerals (from the milk AND the pumpkin), etc… Yes. It’s nutritionally complete. Enjoy!

  6. Look at the size of that blowtorch,my kitchen torch is now sufferuing from Napolean envy. Love this dessert.

    • And I’m still giggling, Valli. Napoleon envy? HA! I’ll bet your torch fits nicely in a kitchen drawer, though, right? I have to go dig around in the barn, shop and basement to find ‘my’ torch. (It lives a normal life as a tool. Kitchen work is it’s secret second life. Kind of like it’s superhero alter-ego.)

  7. I am so glad we gave you that treadmill. You need a good nap.
    luv u

  8. your mom sounds like mine…why serve guests a little when you can bust a gut.

  9. Pumpkin pots de creme sound so good!

  10. Oh my gosh. I have 12 sugar pie pumpkins sitting in my garden right now who have been waiting their whole lives to become this. I also really love any excuse to get out the blow torch.

    • Bellini Valli- I like my kitchen tools cheap and powerful. Like my men :-)

      Da Poppa- Thank you, Dad. It’s such a multi-tasking thing, that treadmill.

      Maybelles Mom- It’s a condition of great moms everywhere, apparently. My Momma still glows with pride over that!

      Kevin- They were, I assure you. But I do recommend having people around to share these with. It’s entirely too easy to eat the whole batch. Not that I speak from experience, mind you…

      Amy- BLOW TORCH!!! It IS fun, isn’t it? There’s something so satisfying about applying flames directly to food by hand and then getting something spectacular out of it. Let me know how you like it!

  11. “Since I was already on the road to a much wider backside” – LOL! Thank you for taking one for the team.

    Is sleeping on a treadmill the workout equivalent to studying by putting a textbook under your pillow? Too funny.

    The pots de creme look delicious — I can’t wait to try out some creme brulee recipes now that I got a torch.

  12. Psychgrad- Happy torching. It’s really a little too much fun. And yes. I exercise by osmosis. That’s proven to be effective, non?

  13. For this creme brulee, do I add the nutmeg & cinnamon to the brulee mixture before cooking? You don’t seem to mention this in the recipe.

    Thanks!

    • Oh my goodness, thank you for pointing that out. You add it in with the vanilla when making the base for the custard. I’ve fixed the recipe to reflect it.

  14. I love your style, your blog and your food!

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