The mister and I have been married for as long as dirt has been on the Earth. You would think, after all that time, the mister would know a few basic facts about me, like I don't eat eggs, I won't watch horror movies and most importantly, I have an irrational fear of sharks...which means I don't like water, bridges, boats, swimming pools with dark bottoms, get my drift? I have been very vocal about this over the years so he KNOWS I will not ever go on a cruise...every week when we get the Viking Cruise brochure in the mail (everyone over a certain age must get those things!) the mister knows to toss it immediately, ain't gonna happen. When my parents and siblings/spouses went on a cruise I opted to babysit my nieces and nephews rather than go with them! That's right, I volunteered to stay with 4 teenagers rather than go on a shark-bait-boat. Boats + water = sharks, it's simple math. So imagine my surprise this morning when the mister, in all seriousness, asked if I wanted to go on a whale watching cruise off the cost of Hawaii. Time for more math...Boats + WARM water = Giant MAN-EATING GREAT WHITE SHARKS! I just stared at him, mouth agape as he pleaded his case..."I know a guy who owns the whale watching tour company over there, he would show us a really great time, probably give us a personal tour and everything..." translation: we would be on a small vessel that would capsize us right into the mouths of hungry sharks never to be seen or heard from again. Not wanting to sound like Regan in The Exorcist, I took a sip of my morning mocktail, composed myself and in my nicest take-your-next-wifey-on-an-open-water-whale-watching-tour-voice said, "What in the Sam Hill are you talking about?! Go to work you crazy man and don't come home until that thought is banished from your head!" Godfrey! It's so tiresome being the ONLY normal one in this house!
Several years ago I clipped a newspaper recipe and stuck it in my "to make" pile. As Autumn would roll around each year, I looked at this recipe, trying to find a good enough reason to make it...it seemed too fancy to make for an every day dessert and it would be a waste to make for Thanksgiving because that's all about PIE! Finally, hosting my book club gave me an excuse to make this wonderful, silky smooth, richly decadent, subtly-spiced dessert...it's a keeper and while it won't make our T-Day table, it will definitely make a couple of appearances before the Fat Lady sings!
Like I said above, this is subtly-spiced...don't think of this as another version of pumpkin pie, it's not. It has just a hint of pumpkin, and a pinch of nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cinnamon, just enough to give you a taste of the season and it definitely allows for a few Mmmmmmms. This can be made a day ahead, or if you want to make it and serve it the same day, make sure you allow for at least two hours of time in the fridge for the brulee to cool. Don't be an idiot like me and wait years to make this - make it this holiday season, you'll thank me!
Pumpkin Creme Brulee - From The Seattle Times Newspaper, 1997
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until it comes to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse at least 15 minutes.
When ready to serve, preheat a broiler to very hot (or fire up your kitchen torch). Uncover the chilled custards. Pour as much coarse sugar as will fit onto the top of 1 of the custards. Pour off the remaining sugar onto the next custard. Repeat until all the custards are coated. Discard any remaining sugar. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan and broil until the sugar is melted and well browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool 1 minute before serving. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired and a ginger cookie. This recipe makes 4 generous servings.