Friday, November 22, 2013

Pumpkin Crème Caramel

I rarely eat desserts, but if Crème Caramel is on the menu, I go weak at the knees. The saving grace of this high-fat dessert is that it’s always served in small portions! Add pumpkin and it becomes a lovely reminder that - wrapped in a blanket of fog and frost - Fall has settled into the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live. 

Crème Caramel normally needs a bit of last-minute preparation when it’s inverted onto individual serving plates that are carried to the table. That can be tricky when the kitchen is stacked high with dishes from the previous course and you barely have room to move, so this recipe dispenses with the fuss of single-serve portions. Instead, it’s prepared in a soufflé dish and inverted onto a large serving plate with slightly curved edges to contain the caramel run-off. I believe this make-ahead dessert is the ideal choice to serve guests after a heavy Autumn meal. 

Pumpkin Crème Caramel:

To Prepare the Caramel:

1 c. granulated sugar
¼ c. water

Add sugar and water to small, heavy-bottomed  saucepan over high heat. Stir occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Watching pan closely and shaking it occasionally, continue cooking until syrup becomes a golden caramel color, 6-to-8 min. (Note: If sugar turns a darker brown, it cannot be saved. Throw it out and start again). Immediately pour into ungreased soufflé dish, quickly rotating and tilting dish to coat bottom and sides with caramel. If coating isn’t “perfect,” don’t worry about it, but do try to get as much caramel as possible around the dish, as this sets quickly. Set aside.

To Prepare the Pumpkin Crème:

¾ c. granulated sugar
1 c. puréed pumpkin (canned or fresh. See Note)
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 c. whipping cream
½ c. milk
¼ tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 deg. F. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and set aside. Add Pumpkin Crème ingredients to food processor or wide-bottomed blender, whirling on high 30-to-60 sec. until sugar dissolves and no pumpkin lumps remain. Pour into caramel-coated soufflé dish. Place dish in roasting pan, filling with boiling water within 2 in. to top of soufflé dish. Bake on middle oven rack 1-¼-to-1-½ hr., until skewer inserted at centre comes out clean. Refrigerate in soufflé dish. Shortly before serving, place a large dish with slightly curved edges over soufflé dish. Invert, allowing (the now-liquid) caramel to trickle deliciously down sides of Pumpkin Crème. Pass around the table, family-style. Serves 8. 

Note: Using fresh pumpkin? Check the Index for How to Make Pumpkin Purée.

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