You won’t believe how easy it is to pull off this Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee! Just mix in one bowl, pour into ramekins, and bake. The final torching of the sugar brings it together for the ultimate fall dessert.
I’ve made creme brulee more times than I can count and the original recipe I have is the easiest of any I’ve seen. There is no heating up the cream or tempering the egg yolks with the cream. It can literally be made in a matter of minutes in one bowl before being poured into individual ramekins and baked.
WHAT IS CREME BRULEE?
Creme brulee is a French dessert that is made of cream, egg yolks, and sugar. It translates to burnt cream, and is essentially a custard base topped with caramelized sugar. The caramelized sugar is a contrasting texture from the silkiness of the baked custard. A spoon tapped on the surface cracks the sugar and reveals the smooth, rich custard beneath. In a word, it’s heaven!!
What I love about creme brulee, aside from the obvious, is that it lends itself to so many different flavor options. Check out the notes in my Easy Creme Brulee recipe for additional flavoring ideas. But for this recipe, we’re sticking with the most beloved fall flavor, pumpkin spice. Real pumpkin puree is included, not just the spice!
WHAT GOES INTO EASY PUMPKIN SPICE CREME BRULEE?
Creme brulee looks so elegant and difficult, but it’s really not hard at all to make. Here’s the list of ingredients:
- Egg yolks — needed to make a custard. I’m afraid there aren’t any suitable substitutions that I know of.
- Sugar — for obvious sweetening.
- Heavy cream — ultimate creaminess and mouthfeel. A non-dairy substitute that might work would be canned full-fat coconut milk.
- Pumpkin puree — make sure to use 100% canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.
- Blend of pumpkin pie spices — you can make your own or use a storebought blend.
- Vanilla — for a backdrop of flavor.
HOW DO I MAKE CREME BRULEE?
Like I said, most creme brulee recipes call for heating the cream and slowly pouring it into the egg yolks and sugar to “temper” the egg yolks (bring them to the same temperature). Otherwise, you’ll be left with scrambled sweetened eggs, and who wants that?
This recipe, however, takes it into the easy, beginner category. No tempering is necessary. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl vigorously until smooth and thick, and the mixture is lightened in color. It should fall from the tines of the whisk like a ribbon.
Still whisking, add the pumpkin puree, followed by the heavy cream and spices, as well as the vanilla. Whisk everything until smooth. Slowly pour this mixture into ramekins that are set in a larger, deeper pan, which will become the bain marie.
WHAT IN THE WORLD IS A BAIN MARIE?
A bain marie is just a fancy word for water bath. If we were to put the custards into the oven without a water bath, they’d become dry and cracked and nothing like what they should be. The water bath allows the custard to slowly cook in a moist environment, creating a silky smooth texture.
Place the ramekins in a larger pan (I use an old roasting pan with higher sides) and pour the custard into each. It’s best to do this close to the oven so nothing gets spilled on its way to the oven.
Fill a large measuring cup with very hot tap water. Pull the middle rack of the oven out and place the large pan on the rack. The best way to add the water to the larger pan is to remove one of the ramekins, pour the water into the larger pan to halfway up the sides of each ramekin, and then replace the ramekin you removed. That way you won’t risk splashing water into the ramekins as you try to pour it.
Cover loosely with aluminum foil and carefully push the rack back into the oven so as not to slosh the water around. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or more, depending on the depth of your ramekins. If you have rather shallow ramekins, it’ll be on the lower end of that (50 minutes). If you have deeper ramekins, it might take another 15-20 minutes to fully set.
I suggest checking every 10 minutes by carefully lifting the foil and with a pot holder in hand, gently wiggle the pan. If the custards are almost set (the center still jiggles slightly), they are done. If the entire custard jiggles, check again in another 10 minutes.
TORCHING THE TOPS
Without the caramelized sugar, creme brulee is just…creme! It’d still be good (it’s basically pudding), but we love that crackly topping that’s all about the caramelization and crunchy sugary goodness!
If you don’t have a kitchen torch, they really are super cheap and I’d suggest getting one, even if it’s just for the purpose of making creme brulee. Because once you make it, you’ll want to make it again and again. I guarantee!! This is one of the ones I have, but they sell them just about anywhere they sell kitchen items, such as Walmart, Target, and even Kroger.
Sprinkle the sugar on top of the chilled custards and tap it around, as if you’re flouring a cake pan. This will ensure all parts of the custard are covered in sugar. Turn on the torch and hold it a few inches over the sugar, moving it back and forth, until the sugar begins to melt and caramelize. Once the creme brulee have been torched, they must be served within about an hour as the sugar will start to turn to liquid as it sits.
Now that you know it’s not as daunting as you thought, get in the kitchen and make these Easy Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee! They’re the perfect fall treat and are so good!!
Easy Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee
- 5 large egg yolks
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar, plus about 1 tbsp more for sprinkling tops
- 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
- ½ cup ( 100% pumpkin puree
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp allspice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In large bowl or measuring cup, whisk egg yolks and sugar until thickened and lighter in color, 2-3 minutes. Add pumpkin puree, spices, vanilla, and heavy cream and whisk until smooth.
- Place ramekins in larger roasting pan and fill each with custard mixture. Pull out middle rack of oven and place pan on rack, remove one ramekin, and pour hot tap water until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Replace ramekin, cover pan loosely with foil, and carefully push rack back into place.
- Bake for about 50 minutes. Lift up the foil and with a pot holder in your hand, very gently wiggle the pan. If only the center jiggles slightly, the custards are done and can be removed from the oven. If the entire custard jiggles, they're not done. Replace foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Check for jiggling again. Continue this in 10-minute intervals until fully baked and only slightly jiggling in center.
- Remove pan from oven and remove ramekins from water (a pair of tongs will help). Place ramekins on wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Place ramekins in refrigerator, uncovered, and chill for at least 4 hours.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle sugar over tops of custards and caramelize sugar using small kitchen torch. Alternatively, you may put the custards under the broiler for just a minute or two, but check after 1 minute so they don't burn.
- Once bruleed, they must be eaten within an hour or sugar will liquify.
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