Monday, November 2, 2009

Pumpkin Crème de la Crème

And now, let the pumpkin posts continue! As promised, the fall parade of pumpkin spice recipes marches on even though we're now in that odd pumpkin limbo time between Halloween pumpkin-themed recipes and Thanksgiving pumpkin-themed recipes. Oh well, clearly I'm not concerned. I recently managed to get my hands on two more coveted cans of pumpkin and couldn't wait to use one for this Pumpkin Crème Caramel.

If you haven't had the pleasure of enjoying crème caramel before, the texture is very similar to a flan or custard, but it also comes with a built in bonus layer of delicious caramel sauce. The seasonal addition of pumpkin pie spice really adds warmth and blends perfectly with the creamy caramel. I'd also even recommend this as an alternative for friends or family that usually don't like pumpkin pie because it is much less sweet than pumpkin pie and the texture is also more dense. I'm actually completely guessing that these might be reasons people don't like pumpkin pie because, frankly, I find it incredulous that these people even exist.

Also don't be intimidated by the pomegranate seeds used as garnish. If you've never used a pomegranate before, let this be your first opportunity. Since this was my first time trying pomegranates I was similarly terrified to tackle what some believe was the true "forbidden fruit" and now I'm addicted to the tangy-sweet seeds. Food blogger Gimme Some Oven has a great tutorial on how to open and seed your pomegranate completely mess-free and, I mean, Web MD tells us that pomegranates are a major superfruit so really, what are you waiting for? You may be consuming the equivalent of 6 eggs, but you might as well fight free radicals with the power of antioxidants at the same time, right? Right.

Note: You can also modify this recipe by preparing it in two pie plates as opposed to individual custard cups if you prefer.

Pumpkin Crème Caramel
serves 8
1 1/3 cup sugar
6 eggs, beaten
2 5-oz cans evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp finely shredded orange peel
2 tsp vanilla
pomegranate seeds (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. To caramelize the sugar, melt the 1 1/3 cups sugar in a heavy-bottomed skillet over med-high heat, shaking the skillet occasionally. When the sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar is golden brown. Remove skillet from heat; immediately pour sugar into eight ungreased, 6-oz custard cups. Quickly tilt to evenly coat bottom of cups.

3. Place cups in two 2-quart baking dishes. Whisk together eggs, pumpkin, evaporated milk, the 1/2 cup sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Pour the pumpkin mix over the caramelized sugar. Place the baking dishes on the oven rack. Pour boiling water into the baking dishes to a depth of 1".

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the centers comes out clean. Remove cups from water. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.

5. To serve, loosen edges of custards with a knife. Invert a dessert plate over each custard, turn cup and plate over together. Scrape any remaining caramel that remains in the cup onto the custard. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if desired.

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