Pumpkin Creme Brulee

This is just one more leftover recipe from Thanksgiving.  Its a stunning combination of the spicy sweet taste of pumpkin pie with the rich creaminess of custard.  It is pretty much the perfect kind of dessert.

I created my own recipe after sampling a few online and being genearlly dissatisfied with all of them.  This is a luxourious thick custard with lots of pumpkin flavor and just the right amount of spice.  The burnt sugar topping is made with brown sugar instead of white sugar for an added layer off flavor. 

Don’t be afraid of custard.  Really.  As always, I will give you my simple tricks that make even creme brulee simple.  Step 1: Cook in a water bath.  This means you will have to cook your brulee in ramekins.  If you have very small bowls, they would work as well.  As you can see from my picture, I have flat square ramekins.  They just make cooking quicker and more even, but I’ve done this is small bowls and round ramekins as well.  Get your kettle going so you have hot water.  Place the filled ramekins in a baking dish.  Slowly pour hot water until it comes halfway up the side of the ramekin.  Then slide it in the oven!  Step 2: You do NOT need fancy equipment to get the crunchy carmelized top on your creme brulee.  Simply raise your oven rack to the highest notch.  Crank the heat to broil.  Place set custards with sugar under the broiler.  Make sure the ramekins are approximately 2 inches from the broiler.  Leave them there for a few minutes and the sugar should be nice and caramelized.

15 ounces of canned pumpkin

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

5 egg yolks

2 cups cream

1 cup half and half

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon of brandy

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

a little extra brown sugar to finish off the creme brulee

Preheat the oven to 325.  Mix pumpkin and sugars.  Add in egg yolks, vanilla, brandy, and spices.

In a saucepan, heat cream and half and half until it begins to bubble.  Add warm cream mixture to pumpkin mixture.  Stir together slowly.

Divide custard into ramekins.  This will make approximately 8 creme brulees.  Place ramekins in 2 baking dishes and fill the baking dish with warm water as described in the above step 1.  Be careful not to get any water in the custard.

Cook custard at 325 for approximately 40 minutes.  Custard is done when it is set and the middle jiggles slighty when shaken.

Let custard set for at least 6 hours.  This means you can make the custard well ahead of time.  Let cool then place in the fridge.

When ready to serve, remove ramekins from fridge.  Set oven to broil and move oven rack to the top.  Sprinkle the custard with a very thin layer of brown sugar.  Place 2 inches below broiler for a few minutes, or until sugar is bubbling.  Remove and let sugar cool, then serve!

Leek and Rosemary Quiche

WOW!  That is all I have to say about this recipe.  I like quiche, but it has never been one of my favorite foods.  In fact, quiche has always had a baby-shower-esque feel for me.  You eat it because its there, and someone is usually celebrating something.  This quiche recipe has made me rethink my previous analysis.

Ironically, I made this dish as part of our Thanksgiving feast for a vegetarian friend.  I altered the Luna Cafe’s recipe for Leek, Cheddar, and Rosemary Tart.  You can find the original recipe here.  Luckily, Luna Cafe has a few great hints to make cooking quiche pain-free and effortless.  The two main things to know are: 1) Quiche is done when it reaches 160 degrees internal temperature.  Do not overcook!  Custard will curdle at 180 degrees. 2) You will know when to take the quiche out of the oven by the size of the indent in the middle.  This means when the outside begins to set, it will raise around the edges, but not in the middle.  This forms an indent in the middle of the quiche.  When the indent is approximately 3-4 inches from the outside, it is done!  It is safe to take the quiche out of the oven at this point, because it will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven.

Recipe (adapted from Luna’ Cafe’s Leek, Cheddar and Rosemary Tart)

1 prepared pie crust rolled into a quiche pan

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced crosswise

2 teaspoons of minced garlic

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups half and half

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

I started by par baking a pie crust.  Par baking is simply partially cooking an item.  You need to do this with the pie crust, otherwise it will not cook properly when you pour the custard over the crust.  I did this by placing a pre-made crust in a greased quiche pan and poking holes in the bottom.  Then I cooked it for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  After doing this, take the crust out of the oven and sprinkle lightly with shredded cheese.  This will help keep the crust crispy.

The next step is to cook the veggies.  Melt butter in a pan.  Then add chopped leeks and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until translucent.  Add chopped chives and rosemary and remove mixture from heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs.  Whisk in half and half.  Season egg mixture with salt and pepper.  Mix cheeses together.  Add a small handful of the cheese mix into the egg mixture and whisk.

Pour the veggie mixture over the crust.  Then pour egg mixture over the leek mixture.  Make sure there is approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch room at the top of the pan because the egg mixture WILL rise when cooking.  Finally, top with leftover cheese.  Bake quiche at 350 degrees for approximately 35-45 minutes.  Let the quiche cool for about 10 minutes before serving.