Since crème brûlée and crème caramel (which I've posted about twice—here and here—on this blog) are such close cousins, I tried using one recipe to make both.
When I explained this idea to a friend, she was confused by the variations. Here's my explanation:
• Inside = traditional crème brûlée, served in a ramekin with the crackly top.
• Outside = crème brûlée baked in a parchment-lined ramekin and inverted onto a wafer or cookie and served outside the ramekin
• Upside down = traditional crème caramel inverted onto a serving platter
I found it interesting when I had a poll on my blog that crème brûlée won 9 to 2 over crème caramel. My favorite is crème caramel. So with this recipe, you can please everyone.
Makes 4 cups of custard
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
Crème brûlée top:
4 tablespoons sugar
To make the caramel: Bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until the syrup turns a light caramel color. Pour the caramel into ramekins, and tilt so that it covers the bottoms and sides. Let cool.
Note: If you want to serve the caramel separately as hard and brittle, pour it onto wax paper or a silicone-lined baking sheet and let cool. It will harden. Break apart like you would for peanut brittle. Serve alongside the custard.
To get ready: Preheat the oven to 300˚F.
To make the custard: In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream, milk and vanilla to a boil. Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar until blended. Stir in the pumpkin purée, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisking constantly, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture; let rest for a few minutes, then strain. Pour the custard into the caramel-lined ramekins.
Place the ramekins in a baking dish. Add boiling water to come about two-thirds up the sides of the ramekin. Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool. Chill for 2-3 hours.
To serve as crème brûlée: Sprinkle sugar evenly over top of cooked, cooled custards. Using a torch, move the flame continuously over the surface of the ramekins until the sugar melts and becomes golden brown and bubbly.
To serve as crème caramel: Run the tip of a knife around the edge of the custard to loosen it. Invert a serving platter over the ramekin and quickly turn it over again. Carefully remove the ramekin.