Pumpkin Crème Brûlée (Without A Torch!)
Pumpkin Crème Brûlée is a deceptively simple dessert that’s elegant enough for any holiday celebration. Velvety pumpkin custard topped with a classic, crackly caramel crust adds finesse to any meal!
If you love classic holiday desserts like Pumpkin Pie and Gingerbread Cake you are going to fall head over heels for this pumpkin creme brulee.
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What Is Creme Brulee?
The French word crème brûlée translates to “burnt cream” in the King’s English. Still sound yummy? Luckily for us, this centuries-old dessert classic didn’t taste like burnt creme to the culinary critics of old!
Creme brulee is a delicate custard topped with a crackly caramelized sugar crust. Texturally the thin crust is the perfect foil to the silky creme bottom. After all, I’m not sure how many people would get excited if you say you’re serving “burnt cream,” but mention creme brulee, and no one’s late for dinner!
Why You’ll L-O-V-E Making (& eating) Pumpkin Creme Brulee
Even if this is your first time making a no-torch creme brulee, you will love it! It’s hard to find a good cook who hasn’t had a “fail” or two when trying out a new recipe, but it certainly isn’t going to be this one! It’s all about tempering your custard, and I’ll explain that below. So, “buckle up, buttercup,” you and the special people who share your pumpkin brulee will be coming up roses!
- We love this easy pumpkin creme brulee recipe because it makes any occasion special when you serve this decadently delectable brulee.
- This uniquely flavored pumpkin creme brulee stars brown sugar for its crackly, crispy crust.
- Making creme brulee ahead 1 – 2 days can take the stress off a time-packed schedule.
- Pumpkin brulee has that particular “oomph,” caramelly toffee goodness from your secret weapon, molasses. Oh, yeah!
- Pumpkin Crème Brûlée is a simple dessert that’s elegant enough for any holiday or guests.
- And, of course, the biggest reason my pumpkin creme brulee is a hit? You don’t need to buy anything extra; no-torch creme brulee, yahoo!
Ingredients For Easy Pumpkin Creme Brulee
No fancy equipment is needed to create a fancy brulee dessert: medium saucepan, whisk, mixing bowl, 8 ounce ramekins, baking dish with sides.
- Heavy Whipping Cream – is the key component of the luscious and silky mouthfeel of a brulee custard.
- Half And Half – offsets some of the richness and fat in a brulee recipe instead of using heavy whipping cream only.
- Solid-Pack Pumpkin – pure pumpkin puree only! Check the label because pumpkin pie filling is already spiced and highly sweetened.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice and Salt – I have an easy pumpkin spice mix recipe if you don’t have a bottle on hand.
- Egg Yolks – separate the whites from large eggs. Allow them to fully warm to room temperature to assist in the tempering process.
- Molasses – is the secret ingredient that really sets this pumpkin crème brûlée apart. Light molasses gives the crème brûlée an essence of gingerbread, making them freaking delicious! Light molasses is preferred over dark molasses for this pumpkin brulee recipe. It’s lighter in color, sweeter in taste, and has fewer bitter notes than dark. Either can be used.
- Brown Sugar – should also be light. Dark brown sugar will have more moisture which doesn’t like to crystalize as easily.
- Whip Cream (Optional) – Who doesn’t like a little whipped cream on top?
- Cinnamon (Optional Garnish) Creme brulee looks professional with that little pinch of aromatic coloring artfully sprinkled.
- *You will need HOT water for the baking process, not as an added ingredient
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How To Make Pumpkin Creme Brulee Without A Torch
First things first, separate 5 egg yolks and allow them to warm to room temperature before you set up the rest of your brulee ingredients. While you’re at it, you might as well use the egg whites to whip up a few Lemon Meringue Martinis.
(full printable recipe at the end of this post)
Part I Creating the Custard: Pumpkin Creme
- Heat cream, half and half, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice and salt to a low simmer.
- Whisk molasses and egg yolks together in a large bowl, then temper* the eggs with ~ ½ cup of the heated cream mixture. Slowly add the remaining heated cream to the egg molasses mixture.
- Put prepared ramekins into a deep baking dish and fill ramekins with the custard. fill the dish with hot water until the water level is halfway up the side of the brulee ramekins.
- Bake until the pumpkin brulee is set.
- Allow pumpkin creme brulee to cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then remove and refrigerate.
Part II Creating the Crackle: No-Torch Brulee
- After at least 3 hours or overnight, remove thoroughly chilled and set pumpkin brulee from the fridge.
- Sprinkle brown sugar over each brulee custard and place them on a baking sheet.
- Broil 4-inches from heat until sugar begins to bubble and melt.
- Cool for 2 minutes, and serve pumpkin creme brulee with a dollop of whip cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Chef’s Tip: How To Temper The Yolks For Perfect Pumpkin Creme Brulee.
“Tempering” sounds way more intimidating than, “hey, don’t add the hot stuff to the cold stuff too fast!” Not helping? It really is that simple. Ok, here’s a better breakdown so even first-timers can’t fail, chillax.
I’ve seen professional chefs whisk in ½ a cup of the hot liquid into the molasses and egg mixture to start the tempering process. But until I did it a couple of times and got a feel for making creme brulee, I began with ¼ cup. It’s important to whisk while adding the cream mixture to the egg. Repeat this process a couple of times to slowly raise the temperature of the egg mixture, then incorporate the rest. Viola! No scrambled eggs!
Pumpkin Creme Brulee Recipe Notes/Tips
Here are some notes to help you make the best pumpkin brulee without the stress of using a torch
- Creme brulee is not a recipe you want to substitute heavy (whipping) cream. Its butterfat content of >36% makes all the difference in the texture and set of the custard.
- Make sure to use pure pumpkin NOT Pumpkin pie filling. The latter already has sugar and spices added.
- The best, most foolproof way to get a smooth and perfectly flavored creme brulee is to avoid “scrambling” the eggs when you add the hot cream by tempering.
- You can freeze the egg whites in an ice cube tray and transfer them to a freezer bag.
- Before you ask, “do you have to use a water bath when making creme brulee,” the answer is yes. You need the humidity to help set up the custard, just like my Brownie Bottom Cherry Cheesecake!. See FAQs for “why.”
- For the best results, pumpkin creme brulee should be between 1 and 2 inches thick for a perfect custard ratio to caramel crust.
- Try putting the baking pan with the brulee ramekins in the oven first. THEN, carefully pour hot water into the corner of the pan using a kettle, pitcher, or pourable glass measuring cup!
- Be sure to allow plenty of time for the pumpkin creme to set up in the fridge. Some chefs actually prefer to make a creme brulee day ahead and allow it to set overnight.
- Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap (don’t allow it to touch the surface of the custard) if you leave the pumpkin brulee in the refrigerator overnight or after the 3-4 hour mark.
- Creme brulee crusts will remain at peak crunchiness for up to an hour. After that, the moisture starts to melt and absorb the sugar.
How To Store Pumpkin Creme Brulee
Crème brûlée doesn’t keep well leftover because you lose the crunchy top…..but that hasn’t stopped me!
If I have one left over, I just keep it in the fridge and enjoy it the next day. The top isn’t crunchy, but all the flavors are still there. I wouldn’t serve it this way to guests…..but I’m sure not going to let it go to waste! #justsayin’
Chef’s Tip: If you don’t need all the pumpkin brulee ramekins, only caramelize the ones you will serve, and leave the rest covered tightly in the fridge.
Creme Brulee FAQs
Nope, just the label depending on the brand. In the U.S., the standard for “heavy” cream is 36% minimum butterfat. For pumpkin creme brulee, you want to stick with the heavy stuff.
Crème brûlée should end up as a soft-set custard, like the texture of Greek yogurt. It is not like flan, which is a firm-set custard. The texture can vary widely based on the cream you use and any other ingredient you might add, like pumpkin, in this case.
The beauty of the water bath is it insulates the brulee custard, so the edges don’t cook too fast, and the humidity keeps the top from setting quickly and cracking.
The ideal ramekin size for this creme brulee recipe is 8 ounces. The ramekins I use are almost 4 inches in diameter and are 1.9 inches deep. Other sizes can also be used. Cooking time is determined by the depth of the liquid.
What Can I Make With Extra Egg Whites
In my world, pumpkin creme brulee is a perfect dessert for any holiday gathering…….or just a Tuesday night. 😉 You have likely noticed this brulee recipe uses five egg yolks, I want you to know I’ve solved the age-old dilemma of what to do with egg whites that isn’t making an omelet!
I’ve gathered some delicious recipes that happily welcome those extra egg whites you’re going to have left: Oven Fried Pickles, Tiramisu Brownies, or Ultimate Coconut Cake. Take a load off and enjoy one of these creamy, dreamy adult beverages, Lemon Meringue Martini or Cran Cherry Whiskey Sour Cocktail both cocktails include egg whites!
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Originally posted in January 2014. UPDATED February 2023. We spiffed up this post with more info and new photos.
Pumpkin Creme Brulee
Pumpkin Crème Brûlée is a deceptively simple dessert that's elegant enough for any holiday celebration.
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup solid-pack pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
- whip cream (optional)
- cinnamon (optional garnish)
- Preheat oven to 300°F, and spray 4 (1-cup) ramekins with cooking spray.
- Using a medium saucepan, heat cream, half and half, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice on medium-high heat, bring to a low simmer .
- Whisk molasses and egg yolks together in a large bowl, and add the heated cream to the egg molasses mixture.
- Place ramekins in deep baking pan. Pour custard mixture into prepared ramekins.
- Pour hot water into baking pan until it's half way up ramekins, being careful not to get any inside on the custard. Carefully place pan in oven.
- Bake 45-55 minutes or until set. Cool in pan 30 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan and refrigerate a least 3 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, preheat broiler and move rack to top position. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of brown sugar over each custard. Place ramekins on baking sheet and broil 4-inches from heat for 1-5 minutes until sugar begins to bubble and melt.
- Cool for 2 minutes and serve with a dollop of whip cream and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 557Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 368mgSodium: 295mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 1gSugar: 47gProtein: 12g
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Pumpkin Crème Brûlée sounds like a good idea! Thanks for the recipe!
I accidentally used 1 cup of molasses,and it was amazing! I love anything pumpkin, but with double the molasses this becomes more of a gingerbread flavor and it was great. I can’t wait to try this again, with the correct proportions!
Do you have to let the cream mixture cool slightly before adding it to the egg mixture? I always seem to scramble my eggs whenever I make creme brulee.
you can certainly let it cool a bit to avoid that from happening