What would Thanksgiving be without pumpkin pie? This traditional dessert of the season originated with the early American settlers of the Plymouth Plantation, who celebrated their first harvest season in 1621 with a three day celebration along with the local native Americans. Although the pumpkins were more likely hollowed out, filled with milk, honey, and spices, and then baked in hot ashes. It wasn't until 1651, when famous French chef Francois Pierre la Varenne wrote La Vrai Cuisinier Francois, which included a recipe for pumpkin pie, did pumpkin pie take its modern form. In 1929, when the Libby McNeill and Libby Company (LM&L) purchased Dickinson and Company, canned pumpkin became readily accessible. Today, LIBBY'S is now owned by Nestle and produces 85% of the world's canned pumpkin!
For my nontraditional Southwestern Thanksgiving menu, of course traditional pumpkin pie is not on the menu. Gasp! Instead, a decadent pumpkin creme brulee served with fresh raspberries is the grand finale! This luscious custard is made with cream, sugar, vanilla, and eggs, and is elevated with the addition of canned pumpkin! It's an unforgettable dessert and unique alternative to traditional pumpkin pie! Bissinger's Chocolate Cinnamon Chile Cake would also be a wonderful addition! Happy Thanksgiving!
Pumpkin Creme Brulee
For the Custard
1/2 vanilla bean, split
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
8 large egg yolks
1 cup pumpkin (LIBBYS of course!)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Topping
1/2 cup sugar
Fresh raspberries, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise.
Heat cream, sugar, and vanilla bean until hot, but not boiling to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, beat egg yolks, pumpkin, and vanilla extract until smooth. Strain out vanilla bean from cream mixture. Reserve bean and scrape out seeds. Add seeds back to cream mixture and stir to incorporate.
Temper the egg yolks by adding just a little of the hot cream mixture to equalize the temperature. This will keep the eggs from "scrambling" when the rest of the hot mixture is added. Then add the rest of the cream and mix well.
Pour into 6 small ramekins. Place the ramekins in a bain marie (a 2-inch high roasting pan filled halfway up with hot water).
Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes until firm, but still a little wiggly in the center. (It took mine a few minutes more). Remove from water and chill 4 hours or preferably overnight.
Sprinkle sugar onto the tops and using a torch or broiler, quickly brown to caramelize sugar. Garnish with a few raspberries and serve immediately.