Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

If I hadn’t had a mouthful of cavities as a child, I might not be writing this blog. My dental visits gave me ample opportunity to paw through the Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens piled high in the dentist’s waiting room. Those magazines shaped my future. At Christmas, when other kids wanted a pony under the piano, I wanted cookbooks! 
My bad teeth gave me plenty of chances to pilfer, from an early age hooking me on all things culinary and establishing my career as an unrepentant but surreptitious magazine ripper (“We know Nicole will spend the rest of her life in jail, but we also know she’s a sweet, misunderstood child who couldn’t possibly have stolen all those recipes and photographs . . .”). 
I tore this recipe from a magazine at the dentist’s office so many years ago that no one’s going to haul me off in handcuffs. So here it is, purloined but yummy, my favorite Crème Brûlée!
Pumpkin Crème Brûlée:
2 c. heavy cream (“ whipping” cream)
½ c. canned pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. grated nutmeg
2 tsp. ground ginger
4 egg yolks (keep your heart defibrillator on standby, honey!)
¼ c. granulated sugar
To Prepare the Topping:
1/2 c. granulated super-fine sugar
Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Bring heavy cream to a boil in a pot (or, as I do, in the microwave in an 8-cup (2 L) Pyrex measuring cup). Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg, and ginger. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat together egg yolks and sugar for 2-to-3 min. until thick and lemon-colored. Whisk in reserved cream-pumpkin mixture. 
Butter eight ½-cup ramekins, dividing custard among them. Place ramekins in baking pan. Carefully add enough boiling water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of ramekins. Bake 30 min. or until the custard is just set. Remove from water bath, cool, and refrigerate. When completely chilled, cover with clear plastic wrap until needed. 
A few hours before serving, sieve 1 tbsp. of sugar evenly over tops of custard in ramekins. Using kitchen torch, flame until sugar caramelizes. Alternately, place 2 inches under a hot broiler until sugar melts, approximately 1 min. Keep a close watch on this! Refrigerate again until ready to serve. Serves 8.

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