Like many of you, my Crème Brûlée obsession stems from the movie Amelie. Who can forget that gorgeous scene where Audrey Tautou’s character cracks the caramelized top of her dessert while declaring it one of life’s simple pleasures? To that end, if there is Crème Brûlée to be found on a menu I always order it.
Last weekend I decided to try my hand at this decadent dessert, but instead of making the traditional custard I opted to use the lonely can of pumpkin filling that has been sitting in my kitchen cupboard since Thanksgiving. After all, canned pumpkin needs a home (in my belly) too. That one can of pie filling yielded another tasty treat as well, but more on that later this week.
Since I can’t be trusted in the presence of 8 dishes of fabulous dessert I cut the recipe in half and also substituted light cream for heavy cream. This brought the calorie count down to 210 per pretty pastel ramekin. Sadly I didn’t actually get to use my kitchen torch as it was out of fuel. I had to use the boring old broiler method instead. Boy was that an anxiety producing activity! Chris and I stood in front of the roaring hot stove like expectant parents watching the tops bubble, while I kept saying over and over again, “They’re going to burn! They’re going to burn!” Good times…
Pumpkin Crème Brûlée (Based on the recipe originally published by Emeril Lagasse)
Makes 4 half cup desserts
1 cup light cream
1/8 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup mashed cooked pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Arrange 4 (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan.
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and 1/8 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add half of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the prepared custard cups.
Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Sprinkle each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternately, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.) Place on small dessert plates and serve.