Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and you might be trying to come up with something to make. If you want to make something really special, that involves a blow torch (Nothing says Happy Thanksgiving like a blowtorch) then try this delicious recipe for Pumpkin Creme Brulee. The only issue is having enough ramekins...I lucked out and stole a bunch from one of Penn State's kitchen lab (I returned them!). But, if you are having a smaller gathering, then this is definitely for you. Enjoy!

  • Pecan and Butter Cracker Crust, recipe follows
  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • Hot water
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Divide the crust into 8 (6-ounce) custard cups. Put them into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish or roasting pan and blind bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
In a medium sauce pot, over medium-high heat, add 2 cups of the cream, the spices, the vanilla extract. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks with the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and the sugar is dissolved.
Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cream and the 1/2 cup of milk to the cream and spice mixture. Slowly incorporate the yolk and sugar mixture, then strain through a medium-size sieve. Whisk in the pumpkin puree.
Divide the pumpkin mixture evenly into the custard cups lined with the crust. Add the hot water into the baking dish or roasting pan to create a hot bath and put the pan into the oven. Bake until the custard is starting to set, yet still a little wiggly in the middle, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the brulee from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.
Lightly sprinkle each custard with the turbinado sugar. Heat the sugar with a butane torch until caramelized. To get a thick caramelized sugar crust, repeat this, with just a light sprinkling each time. Allow to cool and serve.

Butter Cracker and Pecan Crust:

  • 32 butter crackers (recommended: Ritz crackers)
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, plus more if needed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the crackers and pecans until finely ground, about 6 to 10 (3-second) pulses. Add the melted butter and brown sugar and pulse to combine. Press into the bottom of a springform pan, baking dish, or 8 (6-ounce) ramekins.
**Note: I also topped each custard with a roasted pumpkin seed, you of course don't need to do this, but it is a nice garnish**

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