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.