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Pumpkin creme brulee has creamy pumpkin-spiced custard filling and a caramelized sugar topping. A fun twist on regular creme brulee!
These pumpkin creme brulees are the perfect dessert to make ahead of time. You can prepare the custard several days in advance, store them in the fridge, and then torch the tops with sugar just before serving.
While turkey is good and all, if you’re a sweets lover, the real showstoppers of the day are Thanksgiving desserts!
And while pumpkin pie or pecan pie are both delicious traditional desserts, the favorites of our table are always the less conventional options. Like these pumpkin cheesecake bars or…*drumroll* PUMPKIN CREME BRULEE.
Not only is pumpkin creme brulee about a thousand times easier to make than pumpkin pie, it’s also the perfect option for a make ahead dessert. Creme brulee is truly one of the easiest desserts to make and this fun twist is perfect for Fall time and Thanksgiving.
How to make pumpkin creme brulee
- Combine the yolks and brown sugar (FYI two of the yolks broke and are below the sugar in this picture!)
- Beat with hand mixers until smooth, creamy, and light; about 1-2 minutes.
- Add in the pumpkin pie spice, pinch of salt, and canned pumpkin. Use high quality pumpkin that is not watery for best results.
- Slowly drizzle in the hot heavy cream while whisking constantly. We want to slowly temper the eggs, not scramble them
- Continue to gradually add heavy cream while whisking.
- Whisk until ingredients are completely combined and smooth. Then add in the vanilla extract.
- (Pictures below) Pour the mixture into ramekins that are placed in a 9×13 pan. Pour boiling water in the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake until the centers very slightly jiggle. Let cool to room temperature and then chill in the fridge until firm, about 2-3 hours.
- When ready to eat, sprinkle on the sugar
- Torch to caramelize the sugar!
Pumpkin creme brulee tools
This pumpkin creme brulee does require a few “speciality” tools. Below are exactly what I use when making pumpkin creme brulee! (Affiliate links below)
Don’t have a kitchen torch?
While it won’t be exactly the same, you can still make these brulees without it. Here’s how:
- Move oven rack to the top position.
- Preheat oven to a high broil and then sprinkle sugar evenly over the brulees.
- Place the pumpkin brulees on a sheet pan and place in the oven (top rack).
- Watch CAREFULLY as the crystallization happens quickly.
- Avoid letting the brulees sit in the oven long or the custard’s texture will change and become less pleasant.
- Remove and enjoy!
Pumpkin creme brulee tips
- Room temperature ingredients: make sure you set the eggs out to come to room temperature before using so they won’t “cook” when the hot heavy cream is added.
- Tip: warm eggs quickly to room temperature using this method).
- Don’t over-beat your mixture: Over mixing adds too much air to the cream which will mess with the texture.
- Season: adding a touch of salt to the brulee helps balance and intensify the flavors.
- Cook the brulees in a water bath: placing the ramekins in a pan with hot water helps to cook the brulees evenly and slowly without burning.
- Use a kitchen torch: getting that perfect hard sugar top is much simpler than you’d think with a kitchen torch. Hold the torch about 6 centimeters away and don’t stay in any spot too long to avoid melting the custard beneath. Crystalizing happens for a second after you torched it which is important to keep in mind if you don’t want the sugar on top burned.
Top your caramelized pumpkin crepe brulees with a ginger snap cookie or cinnamon stick for a garnish. Alternatively, add a crumbled up ginger snap cookie on top after torching with sugar 🙂
Use leftover pumpkin in one of these treats:
- Pumpkin Snickerdoodles reader favorite!
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Healthy Pumpkin Bread
- Not cake-y Pumpkin Cookies
- Pumpkin Bread
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup dark OR light brown sugar, PACKED (I've used both; flavors aren't too dissimilar so use what you have)
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- scant 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (just a tiny pinch!)
- 1/4 cup canned pumpin (not pumpkin pie filling; not an entire can)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 and 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
- 1/4 cup white sugar (superfine if you have it, regular granulated works too)
PREP: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place empty ramekins (Note 1) in a 9 x 13 pan. Place 6 cups of water in a large pot and heat to boiling point. Meanwhile, heat the heavy cream over the stove until the cream is simmering. Do not boil! Remove from the stove and set aside to slightly cool.
EGGS: In a large bowl, add the egg yolks and brown sugar. Using hand mixers, beat until the mixture is light, about 1-2 minutes. Once light and creamy, add in the pumpkin pie spice, salt, and pumpkin and beat until just combined. Pour about 2-3 tablespoons of the hot cream into the pumpkin mixture while whisking constantly with a fork or whisk. Continue to gradually add in the hot cream while continuing to whisk until all the cream is in the pumpkin mixture and everything is smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
PREP FOR BAKING: Pour the prepared mixture evenly into the ramekins that are in the 9x13 pan. Carefully, using a glass liquid measuring cup, scoop out boiling water from your pot on the stovetop and pour into the 9x13 pan (be very careful to avoid getting any water in the ramekins) until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Don't fill above the halfway point.
BAKE: Bake for 30-35 minutes at 325 F (my oven takes exactly 30 minutes for 5 ounce ramekins) until the centers are set (with a very slight jiggle). Cool completely at room temperature and then remove from the water bath and refrigerate for 2-4 hours before serving. (These can be refrigerated for 4-5 days before using) (Cover tightly with plastic wrap before chilling)
SERVING: When ready to serve, add a white sugar on top of the custards in equal portions. (I find it helpful to use a little more sugar that needed and swirl it around on top of the custard to make sure the top is evenly coated with sugar - then just pour the extra sugar onto the next ramekin.) Use a kitchen torch (Note 2) to torch the tops until the sugar melts and browns (or even slightly blackens). Enjoy immediately!
Note 1: Use either (6) 4-ounce ramekins, (5) 5-ounce ramekins, or (4) 6-ounce ramekins.
Note 2: Hold the torch about 6 centimeters away and don’t stay in any spot too long to avoid melting the custard beneath. Crystalizing happens for a second after you torched it which is important to keep in mind if you don’t want the sugar on top burned.
If you don't have a kitchen torch you can use your oven to melt the sugar on the top. To do this, move your oven rack to the top position and heat the oven to a high broil. Once the oven is heated, add the custards (topped with the sugar). It only takes 1-3 minutes so watch closely to avoid burning the crème brûlées.