Posted by: njbrown | November 19, 2011

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée For the Holidays

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

A week or so ago, I came across a recipe for pumpkin crème brûlée that I thought sounded very good.  There was a YouTube video showing a chef making it, so how could it go wrong, I thought.  Unfortunately, when I made it, it had a grainy texture – perhaps due to the fact that brown sugar had been used, and the cream had not been heated.  This led to a number of other attempts using a variety of crème brûlée recipes as points of departure, and adding various amounts of pumpkin purée.  Time after time, the crèmes were too thin although I’ve made them before with no problem.  I finally decided to raise the oven temperature by 25 degrees, and the sixth attempt was successful.  The pumpkin flavor is subtle, but very nice.  If you like more spice flavor, you are free, of course, to change the amounts of the spices, or to substitute your favorites for the ones in the recipe.  For Thanksgiving or Christmas, this is a sophisticated alternative to pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

(Serves 6)


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream (35%)
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • Scant ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • Scant ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  (Depending on the shape and size of your ramekin, a baking temperature of 325 degrees may work for you.) Heat a kettle of water to boiling for making a water bath.
  • Heat heavy cream to 140 degrees*.  Strain and set aside.
  • Mix sugar and egg yolks together very gently with a whisk.  Mixing too much will create air bubbles that you do not want!
  • Gently stir ¼ of heavy cream into egg/sugar mixture, then stir in the rest of the cream.  Again, gently stir in the pumpkin puree.
  • Add spices and salt and mix gently.  Using a large spoon or corner of a paper towel, remove any air bubbles.
  • Pour into small ramekins to within ½ inch of top.  If any bubbles have appeared, remove them as above.
  • Having put a paper towel, cloth kitchen towel or silicon sheet on the bottom of a roasting pan, put in 5 of the ramekins.  Add hot water to half-way up sides of ramekins.  Add 6th ramekin.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes.  When done, the crème will jiggle in the center of each ramekin, but it will firm as it cools.  Remove using kitchen tongs, and place on rack to cool.
  • Once cooled , chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours.
  • When ready to serve, put about 1 tablespoon granulated sugar on surface of each crème, pouring off the excess.  If any sugar is clinging to the sides, clean off with a damp cloth.  Use a propane torch to caramelize the sugar.

The video below from the French Culinary Institute takes you through the entire process:

* I have found my digital temperature reader to be invaluable –  whether for checking how close water is to boiling, to tempering chocolate, or to bringing cream to 140 degrees.  Mine was bought in a large hardware store on sale for $30.00.  The list price is $99.00.

Digital Temperature Reader



  1. Wow! A dinner guest in your home would be so lucky! I’m surprised to see white sugar worked better as I would have expected brown sugar in the brûlée topping. I think it was quite clever using a hardware store temperature too. What’s next? A hammer? ;).

    Glad to see you finally perfected it!


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