This isn't just a recipe post, it's a tale of kitchen adventure. It began when the new lifestyle brand Salt House contacted me. Founder and entertaining expert Sarah Ashley has created a line of fashion-forward aprons for the modern home cook (I'm wearing the maxi apron above). Together we decided to share one of Sarah's recipes along with an apron giveaway. And when Sarah suggested a pumpkin creme brulee, I was a little nervous as I've had custards rebel on me before. But I really wanted to give it a go, especially since I'm intrigued by Thanksgiving dessert recipes that offer a twist on the classics!
I gathered everything I needed to make the pumpkin creme brulee, including a chef's torch that I ordered from Amazon just for the occasion. Usually I'm a messy, haphazard cook, but in this case I followed Sarah's recipe to the letter. Each step went smoothly, and I was pleased to discover that with patience and not much effort, I had a pristine baked custard (plus a few mini ones to spare). Then came the big moment: it was time to sprinkle the custard tops with sugar and torch them to create the crackly shell for which creme brulee is known and loved.
Well it turns out when you order a chef's torch in the mail, it doesn't arrive with the butane fuel you need to operate it. In my all-consuming focus on getting the creme part to turn out right, it didn't occur to me that the brulee step would be an issue! Because I wanted to share this recipe with plenty of time for you to make it for Thanksgiving, what I present to you is a Pumpkin Spice Custard. It's scrumptious on its own, creamy and delicate with marvelous flavor, and it would lend itself perfectly to a crackly sugar topping if you happen to have a supply of butane within reach!
And really when it comes down to it, that's what Salt House is all about—having fun in the kitchen, experimenting, and not sweating the small stuff. And you'll be much more inclined to get your hands dirty with the help of a Salt House apron! Use the widget below to enter the giveaway, and definitely give this recipe a try. It's sophisticated but it's not at all hard, and I'm so glad it got me over my custard phobia. Now to get my hands on some butane!
Pumpkin Custard/Creme Brulee:
1 quart heavy cream, divided
1 cup pumpkin purée
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground clove
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
12 large egg yolks
Candied Nut Topping:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup raw almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or other chopped nut of choice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger
½ teaspoon Maldon sea salt
Preheat to 300 degrees F. Whisk 2 cups cream, pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla bean seeds, spices, and salt over medium heat until dissolved. Cover and let steep 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a large bowl until combined. Place 2-quart baking dish in a large roasting pan and bring a kettle of water to boil. Whisk remaining 2 cups cream into warm cream mixture. Add about a cup to the egg yolks and whisk to combine. Gradually add the rest of the cream mixture to the eggs, whisking to combine. Strain into a clean bowl. Pour custard into baking dish and place in roasting pan; transfer to oven. (Alternatively you could use individual 9 oz. ramekins; this recipe fills 6). Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water covers the baking dish by about ⅔, taking care not to get any water in the custard (it’s best to slide rack into the oven before pouring so that you don’t shake the custard as you push it in). Bake 60 to 75 minutes (about 40 minutes for ramekins), or until the custard is just set. Transfer to wire rack to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least four hours or overnight. To make topping, melt butter in a skillet. Add nuts and brown sugar. Stir and cook over medium heat until nuts are toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; stir in ginger and sea salt. For creme brulee variation,sprinkle ¼ cup granulated sugar over custard. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. Top with candied nuts before serving.