Caramel Pumpkin Custards

Circle B Kitchen

Recipe adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle

Instead of the round 2-quart baking dish called for in the recipe, I used individual ramekins, so either works well. I also substituted my own caramel sauce recipe for the one they used. I wasn’t able to create a good caramel with theirs. You could also substitute a good store-bought caramel sauce and skip that step entirely. I’ve made this with Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce and it was delicious! You can also substitute some pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon and ginger. The recipe states that adding the brandy to the custards is optional, but I highly recommend it. Not optional in my house.

Makes 7 or 8 small custards or one large

For the caramel sauce

(or substitute a good store-bought variety)

1 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons butter

½ cup heavy cream

For the Custards

3 large eggs

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon molasses

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon brandy (optional)

1 cup softly whipped cream for garnish (optional)

To make the caramel sauce

In a heavy small saucepan or skillet over medium heat, stir the granulated sugar until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil without stirring until sugar turns golden brown, about 3 minutes. Depending on your heat, this can happen really fast. Once your sugar has melted and turned a golden brown, immediately stir in the butter. Remove from the heat and let it rest for a few moments and then slowly add the cream. It will sputter a bit, but just keep stirring it in. Once the cream is incorporated, pour about a tablespoon or more into each ramekin and swirl a bit to coat the bottom and a bit of the sides. Set them aside to harden. (Alternately, pour the whole thing into the your round baking dish, swirl to coat the bottom and a little of the sides and set aside to harden).

If using store-bought caramel sauce, heat it briefly in the microwave until it is a pour-able consistency. Pour a little into the bottom of each ramekin and then refrigerate to harden while you make your custards.

To make the custard

Place a 9 x 13 baking pan on the middle rack of the oven and fill halfway with hot water (if using one baking dish) or about ¼ full of hot water if using individual ramekins. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until frothy. Mix in the pumpkin, 2 cups of cream, brown sugar, flour, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, salt and brandy, if desired. Pour into the caramel-coated dishes.

Place the ramekins or baking dish in the pan of water and bake, uncovered, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out almost clean but with a little custard clinging to the pick, about 1 hour 45 minutes for the large dish and 30-35 minutes for the ramekins. The custard will jiggle slightly and the top will be puffed.

Remove the dish from the water and cool to room temperature. (At this point, the custard may be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Cover with plastic wrap and bring to room temperature before serving.)

To serve, run a small knife around the edge of the custard and invert onto a rimmed platter. Do not be concerned if some of the caramel stays in the dish. Serve at room temperature drizzled with a little more caramel sauce and softly whipped cream, if desired.