To end our lovely anniversary dinner, I just had to make crème brûlée. It is super easy, one of our favorite desserts, and seemed like a great ending to our wonderful evening. I wasn’t terribly creative with this recipe, but not everything needs to be a large production. Since dinner was clearly the time and attention-intensive part of our meal, I wanted something that I could make well ahead of time and not have to worry about until it was time to enjoy. This was perfect for that. I based my dessert around Emeril’s pumpkin crème brûlée recipe, with a few tweaks, but nothing really major. The biggest difference is that I used maple syrup instead of brown sugar, and canned pumpkin puree so I didn’t have to strain it. Also real vanilla bean adds a nice touch – if you can use it, it just works so much nicer than vanilla extract does.
The hardest part is not having a blow torch to effectively “brûler” the dessert. Once they were baked and chilled, I coated them with sugar and put them under the broiler, but even turning them did not allow the sugar to caramelize evenly. Maybe I will ask for a blow torch for Christmas, haha.
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
Prep Time: 5 minutes to prep ingredients
Total Time: 3 hrs to bake and chill.
- 8 egg yolks
- 2 c. heavy cream
- 1/4 vanilla bean
- 1/4 c. maple syrup
- 1/4 c. sugar, plus 4 tbs.
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 c. pumpkin puree
1. Preheat oven to 325F. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks until frothy – alternatively you can use a hand mixer for this, which goes a bit quicker. Also, start a kettle of water heating up (you will need this for the pan later, but it won’t go into the actual recipe).
2. Add cream to a medium pan and scrape seeds from vanilla bean into the cream. Stir in maple syrup and 1/4 c. sugar, and turn on heat to med-high. Stir constantly until cream just starts to simmer, and remove from heat.
3. Slowly whisk some of the hot cream into the eggs, and then whisk the entire egg mixture into the rest of the cream. This is so you don’t end up scrambling your eggs by shocking them with too much heat at once and you keep the consistency smooth. No one wants scrambled egg brûlée!
4. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the 4 tbs. sugar) and whisk until uniform. Place ramekins into a large pan and pour mixture into your ramekins. Emeril says this makes 8, but my ramekins were large enough that this recipe made just 4. Fill pan half way with hot water. This will keep enough moisture inside the oven while you are baking them.
5. Bake until the custards set, for me this took the entire 55 min. Once done, carefully take out of the oven (remember you pan is halfway full of very hot water!), and remove the ramekins. Set them in the fridge for a good couple of hours to chill.
6. To brûler your custards, sprinkle sugar on the tops of the chilled custards and broil in the oven (or blow torch them). Make sure you watch them very carefully so they don’t burn, and turn them often. It only takes a minute or two to broil, and only a few seconds between “perfect” crème brûlée and “burnt mess” crème brûlée.
7. Chill some more. I like to eat mine completely chilled throughout. When ready to eat, garnish with fresh berries and enjoy!