There are those of us that believe that too much of a good thing can be wonderful. I am such a person, especially around this time of year. I like to try to max out my palette on pumpkin during these early fall months. There are purists who will be horrified at this recipe! The French would be scandalized! After all the great appeal of creme brulee is the simple pleasure of cream and vanilla bean with that famous burnt sugar flavor topping it off. While I do love a good old-fashioned stand-by, I do feel that this is the season to really take desserts to the next level. This recipe is surprisingly simple to make. It is on par with making cookies. I think what holds people back from making Creme Brûlée the new cookie is the propane powered blow torch. It's not scary, it's fun, inexpensive and it will amaze your guests! For extra credit, this can be made three days in advance. The only day-of prep you will need for this is sprinkling with sugar and torching it!
With the warm familiar flavor of the eggnog, flavorful pumpkin, aromatic vanilla beans, not to mention the flavorings added, this creme brûlée is a holiday in your mouth. Enjoy my very own original Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Eggnog Creme Brûlée!
*4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar (plus 2 teaspoons per ramekin for sprinkling on top)
2 cups whole eggnog (not low fat or you will cry with disappointment)
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon Lorann Oils Butter Rum Flavor
*I was in a hurry to go to dinner with my foxy husband and forgot the eggs for the ingredients breakdown. Oops. Being a perfectionist I will be reshooting this later this week! Rest assured the eggs were not forgotten in the making of the recipe, only in this first image.
Making The Masterpiece:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a mixing bowl slowly mix the eggs and sugar together. Heat the egg nog in a small sauce pan over the stove. Heat until almost boiling (very hot). With your mixer on low speed, sloooowly pour the hot egg nog into the bowl with the eggs. Do this slowly or you may end up with chunks of scrambled eggnog eggs, which sound delicious but that is aside from the point. Let's focus. With a small pairing knife slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scoop out the beans with a small spoon and add to the mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract, Grand Marnier and Lorann Oils Butter Rum Flavor. If any foam has formed on the top of the mixture, scoop it off before pouring into the ramkeins. With a ladle pour the mixture into 6 small ceramic tart dishes (like these) and fill nearly to the top.
Next we are going to create a "bain marie." This is a lovely, intimidating word for a very simple cooking technique. One larger cooking dish is filled with water and a smaller dish containing the food being cooked is placed in the larger dish. The water in the larger dish surrounds the food with very gentle heat and is used for cooking delicate dishes such as this one.
Place your ramekins on a baking pan and pour boiling water into the pan (not the ramekins!). The water should go about half way up the sides of the ramekins. The water will ensure that the bottoms of the ramekins do not over cook. We are essentially making a custard, which we want a gentle uniform consistency for. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The time will vary, I can promise you that. Here is the ultimate goal of how long to cook this: If you gently shake the sides of the ramekins, the custard should be somewhat firm or "set."
Remove the ramekins from the baking pan and allow to cool to room temperature before gingerly placing them in the refrigerator to firm. If you make these a few days in advance be sure to place plastic wrap over each ramekin flush against the surface of the dish.
At the moment you are ready to serve, sprinkle about two teaspoons of sugar evenly on top of each ramekin. Once I have sprinkled my sugar I like to give the ramekins a little shake to more evenly distribute the sugar.
Now for the blow torch! I like to do this at the table, in front of each guest. Dinner becomes the show! It is fabulous! Getting a feel for how to perfectly caramelize the tops will take some practice. Every time I make this recipe I feel like I relearn! Instead of trying to take the sugar to full caramelization section by little section, in a round motion move the flame around the sugar. Little beads will start to form. Once you have your base layer of beading, go over it again. The goal is to have no loose granulated sugar at the end of this process.
As the sugar cools rapidly the shell hardens and perfection is born. You are ready to take your first crack at it!
Years from now when your friends are reminiscing about you in front of the fire, they will mention your great character, your valor, and the time you torched that Creme Brûlée.
After you try this be sure to report back on your Triumphs! I love a good Tear-Jerker!