Crèmes Brûlées (krehm broo-LAY) is rich French cream and vanilla flavored custard. The literal translation is "burnt cream," which refers to the scalded cream or milk in the recipe. Traditionally the entire surface is sprinkled with granulated sugar just before serving. The custard is then placed under heat so that the sugar quickly caramelizes and becomes brittle. Although this step can be omitted, the brittle sugar creates a delicious flavor and texture contrast to the smooth, creamy custard beneath. This recipe is the American version of Crèmes Brûlées, which uses pumpkin as the flavor base. It is very easy to make. Enjoy.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a small saucepan, heat milk to just below boiling, bubbles will form all over the surface (scalded milk is heated to 180 to 185ºF).
3. In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs with a wire whisk. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, spice, and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
4. Gradually whisk in hot milk. Mix well until all ingredients are combined.
5. Evenly divide pumpkin mixture among 12 six-ounce custard cups. Place cups in two 9x13 inch baking pans. Place pans on oven rack and add hot tap water to the pans until the water is halfway up sides of cups.
6. Bake 35-40 minutes. Check after 35 minutes. Custard centers should be slightly wobbly. Remove custard from oven and allow to cool in water bath. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
7. Just before serving, preheat oven broiler. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar on each custard. Arrange on a baking sheet and place under hot broiler. Broil until sugar melts and bubbles. Watch closely to prevent burning. Sugar should be lightly brown and caramelized. Or hold a propane kitchen torch (also called a salamander) about 2-inches from custard tops to caramelize sugar. Serve at once. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days.
Makes 12 servings