Maple bourbon pumpkin creme brulee combines what we love about pumpkin pie with the sophisticated drama of creme brulee ~ this is a fun party dessert!
pumpkin creme brulee
Créme brûlée means ‘burnt sugar’ in French. It’s one of the most delicious desserts because it combines cool silky custard with a crackly sugar crust, and it’s one of the most fun desserts to make (you get to play with a torch!) Pumpkin creme brulee adds a decidedly fall dimension to this classic dessert, and I have to say I like it even better than the original.
pumpkin creme brulee ingredients
This naturally gluten free dessert is great for parties and holidays!
- pumpkin puree
- canned is the way to go. This recipe uses the whole 15 ounce can, so no annoying leftovers.
- maple syrup
- be sure you’ve got pure maple syrup, the fake stuff won’t work for this recipe.
- this adds flavor, but feel free to leave it out or substitute another spirit.
- vanilla + vanilla bean paste
- a delicious double-whammy, but feel free to use either instead of both.
- pumpkin spice
- granulated sugar for bruleeing
- a kitchen torch
- This is so handy to have around, and while you can technically brûlée your custard under the broiler, this gadget gives you much better control. It’s a lot of fun, too! This is the one I use.
- oven proof ramekins
- Mine have about a half-cup capacity, like these. 4-6 ounces is the ideal size for a rich dessert like this.
why bake creme brulee in a water bath?
This step helps insure that the custard bakes evenly throughout and has a lovely silky texture. You do the same with cheesecake. The ramekins fit easily into a 9×13 pan. Note: I don’t bother boiling water for this, I just use my hottest tap water to make it easier.
After baking I let the ramekins cool for 15 minutes right in the hot water. The centers go from jiggly to just set. It’s the perfect combination of a pumpkin pie and custard.
It’s so hard not to dive in with my spoon right now, and theoretically the pumpkin custard can be enjoyed just as is, with maybe some whipped cream on top. But stay with me, because it’s the next step that really brings this dessert to life!
how to brulee your pumpkin custard
Sprinkle a light, even layer of sugar across the surface of your custard, for my ramekins that was about 2 teaspoons each. Turn the kitchen torch on and hover over the surface, keeping the flame moving constantly in a circular motion as the sugar turns to a golden brown. Don’t worry if a few spots look very dark.
- Sprinkle a light but even layer of granulated sugar on your custard.
- Keep your torch moving, but don’t move it too fast, give it time to heat up each section of your sugar surface.
- If nothing seems to be happening, move your torch closer to the sugar. Torches vary in strength and I had to get mine about 1/2 inch from the sugar.
- You want the sugar to caramelize fairly quickly, otherwise your custard will start to heat up.
how to make pumpkin creme brulee without a torch
You can, if necessary, caramelize your custards under a broiler. When I do this I like to do each ramekin individually or in sets of 2 so I can control the results better. Set your oven rack to the highest position and preheat the broiler. Put your custard cup with the sprinkled sugar on a baking sheet and then under the broiler. Watch, with the door open, and remove it as soon as you see the sugar turn golden all over.
pumpkin creme brulee is easily made ahead of time!
Once your custards are baked, they can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Be sure to cool them completely before refrigerating. I like to cover the cups with paper toweling and then foil. The paper absorbs any condensation that might happen in the fridge and keeps the surface of the custards nice and dry. Note: do not brulee your custards until right before serving or the topping will get soft.
serving pumpkin creme brulee
Keep the custards chilled and then plan to torch them just before serving. The crackly sugar glaze will soften over time, so don’t let the torched ramekins sit too long. This dessert isn’t served with anything like whipped cream on top, that would just detract from the bruleed topping.
favorite pumpkin desserts
- Pumpkin Layer Cake with Caramel Frosting
- Pumpkin Fudge
- Perfect Pumpkin Bread
- Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe
- Pumpkin Spice Crisp
Pumpkin Creme Brulee
- 6-8 oven safe ramekins with about 4 ounce capacity each
- 9×13 pan
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 Tbsp bourbon
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 Tbsp granulated sugar, or more if needed
- Preheat oven to 350F. Fit your ramekins into a larger 9×13 pan.
- In a large bowl with a spout whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, bourbon, spice, vanilla paste and extract, and salt until smooth.
- In a small heavy bottomed saucepan heat the maple syrup until it comes to a boil. Lower the heat and let it boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cream, adding about 1/3 at a time.
- Whisk this warm maple cream into the pumpkin mixture, whisking constantly as you pour it in.
- Fill your ramekins with the custard mixture. Pour hottest tap water into the outer pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. They will still wobble slightly when jiggled.
- Remove from the oven and let the ramekins sit in the hot water for 15 more minutes. After 15 minutes they should not be very wobbly in the center.
- Remove the cups from the pan and set on a cooling rack. When completely cooled, cover and refrigerate until completely chilled. You can leave them overnight or up to 2 days if you like.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle a light coating of sugar across the surface of the custards and use a kitchen torch to melt and caramelize the sugar into a hard coating. See post for bruleeing tips and suggestions.
- Serve immediately.