Months ago I started dreaming about Fall and pumpkin desserts. It’s not that I wanted Summer to end necessarily. I was just ready for pumpkin again. It may be because I only just started liking pumpkin again. When I was a kid I adored pumpkin pie, but as I got older, I stopped liking it. Until I met a certain Caramel Pumpkin Pie. It was all over after that. I make it every Thanksgiving now. And now I’m hooked on anything with pumpkin and caramel. Match made in heaven.
So these little custards. Let’s talk about them for a second. The two stars are creme fraiche and Bees Brothers Salted Honey Caramels. (Another match made in heaven.)
The custards taste like pumpkin pie, but with a tangy kick from the creme fraiche. Some people compare creme fraiche to sour cream. And while you can use sour cream as an emergency substitution, it really has nothing on creme fraiche. Creme fraiche is like that friend that is always just a little more polished and sophisticated than you are and they don’t even try. (Don’t worry, I’m more like plain old sour cream too.) It’s worth the extra splurge on the creme fraiche. (Also, I may or may not have eaten the spoonful of creme fraiche. Ahem.)
Bees Bros. Salted Honey Caramels are the creme fraiche of caramels. Have you tried them yet? The first time I had one I knew I could never not have them in my life again. Buttery and salty and honey sweet. They are the perfect caramel. So it was natural to melt them down into an easy caramel sauce.
The sauce is as easy as can be. Unwrap the caramels, cover with a few tablespoons of evaporated milk or cream. Even fresh milk would work. Melt, stir, and drizzle.
Here’s the other great thing about this recipe–all you need is a whisk. Whisk all the ingredients together, pour into some ramekins, bake in a water bath (not as challenging as it sounds), and in a little bit you’ll have a delicious Fall or Winter dessert.
These custards are pretty special. And I bet your friends will start thinking of you as the creme fraiche of the group when you make them. And you didn’t even have to try.
Pumpkin Creme Fraiche Custards with Salted Honey Caramel Sauce
2 cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree
8 oz. creme fraiche (full-fat sour cream can be substituted in a pinch)
1/2 cup whole milk or half-n-half
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp. brandy or dark rum
1 vanilla bean, split into halves, seeded scraped
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
pinch ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. salt
For honey caramel sauce:
18 (4 oz.) Bees Bros. salted honey caramels
4 Tbsp. evaporated milk (can use cream instead)
sweetened whipped cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Have 8 ramekins ready. Line a roasting pan with a dish towel. Bring a few cups of water to a boil and keep hot until ready to use.
Whisk the pumpkin puree with the spices, salt, brandy, and vanilla bean scrapings together. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks with the brown sugar. Add the pumpkin mixture to the eggs and brown sugar. Whisk well. Add the milk followed by the creme fraiche. Whisk until well combined.
Pour about 2/3 cup of the custard into each ramekin. Place the ramekins in the roasting pan and place the pan in the oven. Carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, being very careful not to splash it into the custards. The water should come at least halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for about 40-50 minutes. Start checking custards at 40 minutes. Gently tap the side of one or two of the ramekins. The centers should be set and not jiggly. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before removing custards from the water bath. Cover the ramekins and chill until very cold.
For honey caramel sauce:
Unwrap the caramels and place them in a small saucepan with the evaporated milk. Gently heat, stirring constantly, until the caramels melt and the milk is incorporated. Remove from heat. Chill until ready to use.
Place each ramekin on a serving plate. Top each custard with a dollop of whipped cream and drizzle with a little of the caramel sauce. Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 custards, 2/3 cup caramel sauce