This post is sponsored by Rodelle.
This chocolate pumpkin crème brûlée is a showstopping grain-free dessert that’s perfect for Halloween or any fall occasion. It’s also easy to make ahead of time!
Who’s excited for Halloween, all things pumpkin, and/or Season 2 of Stranger Things??
I am! I can barely think about anything other than the upside down. However, despite how pumped I am about the show’s return, I can definitively say that I am WAY MORE excited about this chocolate pumpkin crème brûlée. It’s the best dessert I’ve made in all of 2017 and possibly longer. It tastes amazing, it’s easy to make, and best of all, it’s really fun!
Let me walk you through the layers. On the bottom there’s a chocolate sauce. This is not just ANY chocolate sauce, though. It’s an intensely-chocolatey-but-not-too-rich chocolate sauce, like what you might have gotten on your sundae at a really good old-school ice cream parlor.
Initially, I was worried I wouldn’t love the sauce. It’s cocoa-based, so there’s no melted chocolate, and there’s also no cream and just a tiny bit of butter. When I tasted the sauce on its own I was happily surprised by how good it was, but when I tasted it along with the finished crème brûlée I was blown away by how much I loved it. With the addition of chocolate extract and without the distracting richness of cream or cocoa butter, the chocolate flavor shines through in a way it doesn’t in most chocolate desserts. I know this may sound paradoxical, but the chocolate flavor is richer because the sauce itself isn’t that rich. As a foil for the super creamy pumpkin layer, it’s just perfect.
The pumpkin layer is a simple custard made with canned pumpkin, cream, and eggs, and sweetened with honey. I love honey and pumpkin together because their rich colors and flavors enhance each other. Egg yolks give the custard its wonderfully tender crème brûlée texture, but I’ve also added one whole egg to ensure stability. The pumpkin crème brûlée is flavored with Rodelle’s Pumpkin Spice Extract, which is basically fall in a bottle. It’s great to have an extract to flavor crème brûlée so you won’t have to worry about any grittiness from ground spices, and the balance of spices in this one needed no tweaking whatsoever–it has cinnamon, clove, vanilla, nutmeg, and ginger extractives in ideal proportions, plus some pumpkin seed oil.
The last layer sells itself–it’s a thin layer of sugar caramelized with a kitchen torch. (For a detailed explanation of why you need a kitchen torch, please refer to this post.) Breaking through that crisp browned-sugar shell to find a generous layer of creamy pumpkin custard and a bit of full-bodied chocolate sauce at the bottom is my new favorite thing about fall.
Oh, and I almost forgot one of the main selling points of this dessert! You can make the sauce and custards a day or two in advance, stash them in the fridge, and torch them right before serving. It takes less than five minutes and is a wonderful party trick. I guarantee your gathering will be the best of the season if you let guests caramelize their own chocolate pumpkin crème brûlée after dinner!
- ¼ cup Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup water
- Pinch or two of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
- ¼ teaspoon Rodelle Organics Chocolate Extract
- ¼ teaspoon Rodelle Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1¼ cups heavy cream
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon Rodelle Pumpkin Spice Extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon sugar (for topping)
- ***NOTE: Prep time listed is hands-on time and does not include chilling time, which is at least two hours.***
- To make the chocolate sauce, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, water, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk frequently until the sauce starts to simmer, then remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, chocolate extract, and vanilla extract.
- Place six small ramekins (I use 4-ounce ball jars) on a tray or plate that will fit in your freezer. Spoon about a tablespoon of chocolate sauce into the bottom of each ramekin. Chill the tray of ramekins in the freezer while you make the custard.
- To make the pumpkin crème brûlée, preheat the oven to 300°F. Whisk together the cream, honey, pumpkin spice extract, and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the cream just starts to simmer, and then remove the pan from the heat.
- While the cream is heating up, mix the egg yolks, whole egg, and pumpkin puree in a large heatproof bowl. Place a pitcher or large liquid measuring cup with a spout in the freezer to chill (you’ll use this to pour the custard into the ramekins). Bring a kettle of water to a simmer for the water bath.
- Whisk about ¼ cup of the hot cream into the pumpkin and egg mixture to temper the eggs. Then, while whisking constantly, slowly pour the rest of the hot cream into the pumpkin mixture. Strain the custard into the chilled pitcher or measuring cup.
- Place the ramekins in a baking dish with high sides. Pour the custard into the ramekins, dividing it evenly between them. Put the baking dish in the oven and carefully pour in the hot water until it comes about halfway up the ramekins, taking care not to splash any water into the custards. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until almost completely set but still a little jiggly in the middle. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to two days. Bring to room temperature before serving if desired.
- When you are almost ready to serve, sprinkle a scant ½ teaspoon of sugar on top of each crème brûlée, spreading it out evenly. Use a kitchen torch to melt and caramelize the sugar until it is browned but not burnt (adjust the flame if needed and keep your hand moving in small circles to avoid burning one spot by keeping the fire on it for too long). Let cool for a minute or two, and then serve right away.
This post is sponsored by Rodelle. Thank you so much for supporting the sponsors that help keep A Calculated Whisk up and running!