When I was a little girl, my grandmother took me out on a girl's night on the town in New York City. We went to a Broadway musical (Cats!) and then to a beautiful restaurant that was on the very top floor of a Manhattan skyscraper.
We had already had dinner before the show so I wasn't sure why we were going there. My grandma had a beautiful table reserved, surrounded by small trees with Christmas lights. I asked her if we were having dinner again and she said "nope. Just dessert.... the best dessert on the planet". She whispered something to the waiter and a few minutes later I had the first crème brûlée of my life, a chocolate crème brûlée topped with raspberries and the thickest sugar crackle topping. I was immediately hooked.
With Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought I'd honor my grandma in teaching you how to make a twist on the classic French vanilla crème brûlée and make it with pumpkin. It will melt in your mouth in the most delicious way, not to mention give you that glorious crackly top that you get to crack with your spoon, an action almost as satisfying as eating this creamy and decadent treat.
Feel free to theme it up according to the holiday! These babies are bright orange, which makes them perfect as a vegan and gluten free Halloween or Thanksgiving recipe. Play this up by adding some sugar figures on top which you can find at baking stores, little bones, ghosts or spiders for Halloween, fall leaves or pumpkins for Thanksgiving, or simply serve it the traditional way, with a couple of fresh raspberries and a mint leaf.
- 1/2 a can of pumpkin purée (about 3/4 cup cooked pumpkin)
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 3/4 cups sugar + a bit more to form the crackle on top
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 & 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- A kettle with boiling water
Optional for topping:
- Fresh raspberries and mint
1. Pre-heat your oven to 325oF (160oC) and bring water to a boil in a kettle.
2. Place some oven-proof ramekins in an oven-proof pan that can hold the water.
3. Slice the vanilla bean carefully in half lengthwise and scrape off the seeds with a knife, reserving the bean itself as well.
4. Add the pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar, salt, cornstarch and the scraped vanilla seeds in a blender and blend until perfectly creamy.
5. Add the mixture to a pot and add the reserved vanilla pod. Heat on high until warm, then lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes mixing continuously as it thickens. Remove the vanilla bean with a fork.
6. Using a ladle, fill each ramekin with the creamy mixture, leaving some room at the top (filling about 3/4 of the way up).
7. Once your water in the kettle has boiled, carefully add the water into the larger pan that holds the ramekins, so that the water reaches about halfway up.
8. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
9. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
10. Chill the ramekins in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
11. Right before serving, sprinkle some sugar on each one, and torch using a kitchen torch. It will harden about 1 minute after torching. Top with the mint and raspberries if desired, or any holiday themed decoration you'd like and serve immediately (or the crackle topping will melt into the dessert again). Enjoy!
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