Pumpkin Pots de Creme (Baked Pumpkin Custards)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 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 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. Divide evenly between custard cups or ramekins. Place ramekins in a roasting pan. 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. 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. 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.)
Remove plastic wrap from one ramekin and sprinkle an even coat of sugar over the surface of the custard. Tilt the ramekin around so that the sugar completely covers the custard. Use a butane torch or broiler to melt and caramelize the sugar. 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.
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.)