Pumpkin creme brulee in a white dish with cinnamon sticks and star anise
Assorted dishes of pumpkin creme brulee

October’s Chocolate Love Challenge, organized by Roxana of Roxana’s Home Baking, combines pumpkin with chocolate. I had been eyeing a pumpkin  crème brûlée and elected to top it will a sweet dollop of white chocolate whipped cream. A group of friends joined me in the kitchen for Crème Brûlée 101…where I demonstrated the procedure for making a classic crème brûlée while we sampled this pumpkin version.  I found this crème brûlée to be quite similar to pumpkin pie…and the hubster felt it lacked the creaminess of my classic version which he adores. Not to say that we didn’t all enjoy our spoonfuls with the shards of the crisp sugar topping. And the white chocolate topping was irresistible.

Close view of pumpkin creme brulee topped with cream

Our conclusion…to brûlee our pumpkin pies this Thanksgiving and serve them with this gourmet whipped topping. My mini torch got quite the workout as my guests faced their fears of caramelizing the sugar for a perfect crust.

Baker friends over to taste test pumpkin creme brulee

Tips for perfect crème brûlée:

  • Temper your eggs slowly, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs
  • Pass custard through a sieve before baking eliminate any cooked egg bits
  • Bake in a bain marie (water bath) for the most consistent baking temperature
  • Bake till edges are firm, but the center is slightly jiggly
  • Put just a layer of sugar on top of the baked custard…pour off any loose crystals
  • Melt sugar until you can no longer discern the individual crystals
  • You can bake crème brûlée in a variety of oven safe containers…just adjust the cooking time depending on the depth and width of the ramekin/dish.
A close up of a creme brulee topped with raspberries
My Classic Crème Brûlée

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée  with White Chocolate Whipped Cream…adapted from Emeril Lagasse

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
8 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger
Grating of nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin
Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

White Chocolate Whipped Cream:
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325º.

Heat heavy cream in saucepan till edges start to bubble. Remove from heat. Whisk together sugars and yolks. Slowly whisk about 3/4 cup of cream into yolk mixture, then slowly return the yolk mixture into pan of cream, whisking constantly.  Add vanilla, spices and pumpkin and whisk till smooth. Strain through fine mesh sieve into large bowl or 4 cup glass measuring cup with spout.

Place 8 1/2-cup ramekins into a roaster or large baking pan. Fill ramekins with custard.  Add enough water to pan to come half way up sides of ramekins. Bake till custard edges are firm but middles are slightly jiggly, about 45-55 minutes. Allow to cool, then refrigerate till chilled. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of Turbinado sugar. Using kitchen torch caramelize sugar (or place under broiler till sugar melts…watch carefully).

In a microwave safe bowl, heat cream in microwave till very hot, but not boiling.  Add white chocolate to the cream and let sit till chocolate melts. Whisk till smooth. Refrigerate till cold. Beat with electric mixer till forms soft peaks. Serve a dollop on top of  crème brûlée.