I'm not really one for making cookies that look like witch fingers or hot dogs that look like mummies. But that certainly doesn't mean that I'm not in tune with the spirit of the season. What season is that, you ask? Pumpkin season, of course. And here is another lovely contribution, what is basically the filling of a pumpkin pie with a crunchy sugar topping. Doesn't get better than that.
Pumpkin Crème Brûlée
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
8 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Arrange 8 (½-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan.
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and ¼ cup granulated sugar. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add ¾ cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla bean paste, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the prepared custard cups.
Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Sprinkle each custard with ½ teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternately, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.) Place on small dessert plates and serve.
Makes 8 servings