Creme brulee is fun to make, especially if you’re a pyro and like to play with blow torches! This makes an elegant Holiday dessert. It’s best to chill the pudding and torch the sugar just before serving, but if you need to do it ahead of time keep it in the fridge when you are done and for no longer than an hour.
I went light on the spices so that the taste of the pumpkin really comes through. You can adjust the recipe if you want any of the other flavors to be more pronounced. Some recipes for brulee give broiling as an alternative to a torch to melt the sugar. I strongly suggest using a torch because the broiler heats up the pudding and it has a much better flavor and texture when cold.
1 14oz can full fat coconut milk
1 15oz can pumpkin (not the pie filling, just plain pumpkin)
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a saucepan and cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until the creme starts to thicken like pudding. At this point you can transfer the creme directly into ramekins or into another container (you can scoop it into the ramekins later). Fill the ramekins right to the top. Let the creme cool for about 10 minutes and then cover each ramekin with plastic wrap pressed right up against the creme. Because the creme will still be warm the plastic wrap will trap in some condensation, if it is not flush against the creme you will end up with some water on the surface. If you leave it uncovered to cool in the fridge it will form a tough skin on top. Keep the creme in the fridge to chill throughly, about an hour or so.
When the creme is throughly chilled remove the ramekins from the fridge and let stand for about 5 minutes. Place a ramekin on a large cookie sheet and find a work area with lots of free space so you can torch the sugar. I bought a blow torch from the hardware store, but you can also use a brulee torch found in most kitchen stores. Sprinkle the top of the creme with an even layer of sugar.
Wipe off any sugar stuck to the rim of the ramekin and wipe away the excess sugar from the cookie sheet. Light the torch and begin melting the sugar. Hold the torch just an inch or two away from the ramekin. The sugar will start to bubble and turn amber. Turn the ramekin from the bottom as you go, being careful not to touch the top part which will be very hot.
Continue torching until the sugar melts together. At this point you can sprinkle on more sugar for a thicker brulee topping. Torch the sugar until it all melts together and creates dark bubbles.
The brulee is good when the sugar turns into dark frothing bubbles. Turn off the torch and let the brulee cool and harden. You can put the ramekin in the fridge, uncovered, while you start on the next one.
All torching photos by Dennis Breyt