Monday, October 10, 2016

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

 Looking for a pumpkin pie alternative? I believe I have the answer! Have you ever made a creme brulee? It's really not very difficult to make and it always impresses everyone, even just at the mere mention of it. Add some pumpkin and a vanilla bean, and now you have a sophisticated dessert that is perfect for any special occasion holiday meal.
 As I was browsing recipes, I noticed that many of them use lots of spices. Yes, of course I love all the warm fall spices that go perfectly with pumpkin, but in this case, I wanted a simpler flavor, one that would not disguise the flavor of the pumpkin. All I wanted was a sweet pumpkin custard, rich and sweet and smooth and velvety. And then I found it! It was on a blog called Love and Olive Oil, and it's AMAZING. It's perfect for a holiday dinner because a total do-ahead. Even if you're not cooking for a special occasion, you should give this one a try!

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup turbinado or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil (this will be used for the water bath later).
Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks, brown sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla until light in color.
Heat cream in a small saucepan until it starts to steam. Gradually pour warm cream into bowl with egg yolks, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking vigorously, until incorporated. Skim off foam. Pour into 4 (4-ounce) shallow ramekins. Arrange ramekins in a baking pan and place pan on oven rack. Carefully pour in just enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until just set. Remove from water bath and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Just before serving, sprinkle a generous tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top of each ramekin. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar, moving torch evenly across the tops of the custards to keep the sugar from burning. Alternatively, you place the custards on the top rack of a broiler set to high, and broil until sugar is golden brown and caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

 I know the recipe only calls for 1/2 of the vanilla bean, but I used the whole thing. As far as I'm concerned, vanilla falls into the same category as cinnamon: there's no such thing as too much. So I scraped out the insides of the whole vanilla bean, and then placed the empty pod in the cream as I was heating it. Vanilla cream! Then I discarded the pod and added the cream to the recipe as directed. I also added just the tiniest pinch of salt, just to enhance the pumpkin flavor a bit.

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