pumpkin spice crème brûlée

Crème brûlée was one of the first desserts I had growing up that I believed to be incredibly sophisticated. As a former pastry chef, it has been a dessert that has given me agonizing levels of frustration. It’s not a difficult dessert to make, but too long in a too hot oven and you end up with a curdled mess. The most important part of crème brûlée to me is the texture of the custard. It has to be velvet smooth for me to be happy with it.

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As difficult as all of this sounds, I promise it’s actually not. When baking crème brûlée, it’s important to keep your oven at a lower temperature so as not to overcook the eggs in the custard. If you know that your oven runs hot, decrease the temperature by 25 degrees. This is where having an oven thermometer is incredibly beneficial so you can ensure that your oven is at an accurate temperature. I know all of this sounds very science-y nerdy, but baking is completely wrapped up in science in a way that cooking is not. Cooking is a whole lot of winging it, and with baking that just generally won’t fly.

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However, this dessert is easy to duplicate and feed a crowd with and people will always think that so much more effort when into them. So you can look like a rock star, and your guests will always be impressed. And it’s absolutely delicious. The warm fall spices, the crunchy sugar, the silky custard… it’s such a perfectly winning combo. Happy baking!

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Products I used in this recipe:

Yield: 4 servings

Pumpkin spice crème brûlée

prep time: 20 minscook time: 40 minstotal time: 60 mins


  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 vanilla beans, split and scraped of seeds
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 5 yolks
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • granulated sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Preheat an oven to 300 degrees F and adjust the racks to be in the bottom third of the oven. In a medium sauce pan or saucier, combine heavy cream, milk, pumpkin, vanilla beans and seeds, rum (if using) and pumpkin spice. Warm to just barely a simmer, whisking to combine. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 min. Remove vanilla bean pods and discard and return to low heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together brown sugar and egg yolks until smooth and pale in color. Prepare your ramekins (4- 6 or 8 oz ramekins would be perfect) by placing them on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking dish. Bring about 4 cups of water to a boil. 
  3. Slowly whisk the warm pumpkin cream mixture into the egg/sugar mixture. Strain liquid immediately through a fine mesh strainer into a large container or measuring cup. Evenly fill each ramekin with the custard.
  4. Place thee tray with ramekins in the oven and carefully pour the hot water around the ramekins so that the water goes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins (creating a water bath). Bake until still jiggly, but just set, like jello, about 40 minutes. Start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving, but can be made a day or two ahead.
  5. To brûlée the top, dust with at least a tablespoon of sugar and caramelize the sugar with a kitchen blow torch or under a gas broiler (electric broilers don’t work well for this). Serve immediately. 
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