This easy Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee recipe will transform your fall parties forever. It’s both impressive and easy to make!

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We live in this world of PSL that sneaks up on us in the fall and has us in its grasp until sometime after winter starts. And then it happens all over again the next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.

Once upon a time I spurned the pumpkin spice thrall that Starbucks had over society but I’ve come to accept and rejoice it (If you’re wondering when this switch happened, it was after my third PSL). This affection of pumpkin spice eventually led me to thinking about the various ways I could PSL my current recipes.

This Pumpkin Spice Crême Brûlée recipe has a 1:1 ratio of pumpkin and cream, so if a silky dense creme brulee with only a slight pumpkin flavour is what you’re looking for, this isn’t it.

I’ve tried this recipe with whole eggs and less cream and it just wasn’t the same as using egg yolks and a 1:1 cream to pumpkin ratio. Egg yolks made it richer, which is neccesary becasue the pumpkin puree has a lot of liquid in it to begin with.

Cheers to a good culinary therapy session,

-Frances

 

Pumpkin Spice Crême Brûlée

YIELD: 4-6 servings (ramekins)
ACTIVE TIME: 10 min 
TOTAL TIME (active + inactive time): 1 hr 50 mins
CREDITS: Frances Lam
SUMMARY: Looking for a 🦃Thanksgiving party dessert that is both impressive and easy to make? This Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee recipe will transform your Fall parties forever! Make ahead to impress your date or for a house party!

INGREDIENTS

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

  • 1 cup (250 g) Heavy Cream
  • 1/3 cup (70 g) White Sugar
  • 4 – 5 (75 g) Egg Yolks
  • 1 cup (250 g) Canned Pumpkin Puree
  • 1.5 tspn (1.5 g) Pumpkin Spice
  • 1/8 tspn (1 g) salt
  • 3 tbsp (40g) White Sugar (For sprinkling + torching)

Pumpkin Spice Mix

  • 1.5 tspn Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tspn Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tspn Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tspn Ground Cloves
  • 1/8 tspn Ground Allspice

Tools needed

  • Measuring cup and teaspoons OR a scale
  • Medium Mixing bowl
  • Small Saucepan
  • Whisk (or a spatula to mix with)
  • Oven Safe ramekins
  • Large shallow oven safe pan (for the waterbath)
  • Torch

INSTRUCTIONS

Pumpkin Creme Brulee Recipe

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream and pumpkin spice on medium high heat, bring to a simmer and take off the heat.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, add the sugar and egg yolks, mix until smooth with a spatula or whisk, then mix in the pumpkin puree. If you’re using a whisk try to incorporate a little air as possible.
  3. Pour the heated cream slowly into the pumpkin and eggs, mixing constantly until completely smooth. Divide the mixture into the ramekins and bake in a waterbath (see notes) at 150 C (300 F) until set (about 30 – 50 minutes). The center should still jiggly when you shake the waterbath gently.
  4. Refrigerate the ramekins with plastic wrap covering. Rest for at least 1 hour or up to two days in the refrigerator if you are preparing ahead of time.

Torching

  1. To serve, add some white sugar into the ramekins and tilt the ramekin to spread it in an even layer. Torch the top evenly, taking care not to burn yourself, until the sugar forms a crispy carmelized layer. Serve immediately.

NOTES

  • The thicker the layer of sugar that is torched, the louder the ‘crack’ sound is when you break through it!
  • I used E.D.SMITH Pure Pumpkin which comes in a can. It’s available at most grocery stores including walmart, metro, foodbasic etc.
  • The easiest way I’ve found to get a waterbath going is to place a towel at the bottom of the pan, add the ramekins on top, and place the entire pan in the oven before pouring the water into the pan. The water should reach at least halfway if not 3/4 of the height of the ramekins.
  • I recommend a torch like this, available on amazon, which is an interchangeable head that you can lock onto any butane can: Sondiko Kitchen Culinary Torch

This easy Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee recipe will transform your fall parties forever. It's both impressive and easy to make! It takes 10 minutes to prepare, 30 minutes bake time and 1 hours chill. It can also be made up to two days ahead of time.

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Hi! It’s been a minute. How are you?

Despite my absence from this blog for the past 4 years, I never stopped thinking about it, and all of you who keep subscribing everyday. I never stopped working on my love for food. It didn’t feel right for me to jump into a new recipe without giving you an update on what’s changed and how deeply my relationship with food runs now.

A lot has happened since the last blog post: going back to school (baking and pastry arts), moving into a new career (food photography), traveling, moving into my own space, gaining new skills, new relationships, new friends, finishing school, moving into yet another career (marketing/project management), and this COVID lockdown. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to chase my dreams and experience so much—I look back at who I was 4 years ago, and I realize I am far cry from that young girl who felt awkward around people and unable to communicate my feelings.

It has been a wild roller coaster ride of putting myself out there, being unafraid to fail with the love and support of family and friends. Honestly I would not have been able to do it without the community around me, lifting me up to where I’m at today. Sometimes I complain about my day to day, but if I actually think about it, I am in my dream industry, and I had no idea I was going to end up here 10 years ago starting off as a young graphic designer.

If there’s anything I learned, it is that you need to fail to succeed. Success looks different to every person and everyone around you is only human. Be kind to one another and learn how to talk to people and navigate disagreements in a respectful manner. Don’t run away from your problems, tackle them straight on and tackle them with the grit that people around you deserve!

Enough about me and my preaching, without further ado, here is a Panna Cotta recipe that you can make ahead of time for your party prep!

What is Panna Cotta you ask? It’s classically an Italian dessert of sweetened cream set with gelatin in some sort of mold (no cooking required despite the name meaning ‘cooked cream’ in Italian). I see it as a jello made of milk/cream that stands up on its own. Having gone through 4 semesters of school for Baking and Pastry Arts, I can tell you, it’s what chefs make at restaurants for an impressive but easy and delicious gluten-free dessert option. Panna Cotta can be flavoured in many different ways and Earl Grey is just one of my favourite! So scale down for date night or scale up for a house party.

In an endeavor to bring more consistency to my recipe results (and also partially because this is the way we did things in baking school), I’ve started to include the measurement in weight for ingredients. Measuring in weight is much more accurate than the use of cups and teaspoons (volume) because everyone packs a cup differently. For example, a cup of brown sugar can vary from 200 to 300 grams depending on how tightly you pack it! Hopefully you can use a scale to try out these recipes but just in case you don’t, I’ve left the volume measurements in as well.

Cheers to a good culinary therapy session,

-Frances

 

Earl Grey Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote

YIELD: 4-5 servings
ACTIVE TIME: 35 min 
TOTAL TIME (active + inactive time): 3 hr 35 mins (3 hrs resting in the fridge)
CREDITS: Frances Lam
SUMMARY: This easy no-fail recipe creates an impressive and delicious Earl Grey Panna Cotta complimented by a refreshing Blueberry Compote! Make ahead to impress your date or for a house party!

INGREDIENTS

Blueberry Compote

  •  2.25 cups (225 g) frozen/fresh blueberries
  • 6.5 tbsp (80 g) white sugar
  • Few grates of fresh nutmeg (optional)

Earl Grey Panna Cotta

  • 0.5 cups (125 g) Milk (skim or whole)
  • 3 tbsp (38 g) White Sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 Earl Grey tea bags
  •  1.25 tsp (3.5 g) Knox Gelatin
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1.5 cups (360 g ) Heavy Cream (35%)
  • Transparent and neutral tasting vegetable oil (optional)

Tools needed

  • Measuring cup and teaspoons or a scale
  • Large Mixing bowl
  • Small Saucepan
  • Medium Saucepan
  • Whisk (or a spatula to mix with)
  • Panna cotta containers/molds (ramekins, glass cups, bowls etc.)
  • Micro-plane grater (optional, required for grating nutmeg)

INSTRUCTIONS

Blueberry Compote (Blueberry Sauce)

  1. In a medium saucepan, measure out your blueberries and sugar, stirring them together. Bring to a boil on high heat and immediately turn to just above a simmer for about 5-10 minutes depending on the consistency you like. Continue stirring until you see the sugar completely dissolved and juices on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add in 3 – 4 passes of fresh nutmeg on your microplane grater (optional).
  3. Remove from the heat, transport to a container, and reserve in the refrigerator for later.

Earl Grey Panna Cotta

  1. In a small saucepan, measure out your milk, sugar, salt, and tea bags, and bring to a boil on high heat. Immediately remove from the heat, cover the saucepan and let the tea bags steep for 5 minutes.
  2. While your tea is steeping, measure out your vanilla extract and heavy cream into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Remove the tea bags from the milk (careful not to burn your hands), gently squeezing out the excess liquid back into the milk.
  4. Evenly sprinkle the gelatin powder on top of the warm milk, wait for 3 minutes, and whisk together until fully dissolved. If there are lumps, put the saucepan back on the stove on medium-low heat for 1 – 3 minutes and continue to whisk until dissolved (never let gelatin boil otherwise its ability to set the dessert becomes compromised).
  5. Add the milk mixture to the cream, mixing thoroughly, this is your earl grey panna cotta base. Let it come to cool. 
  6. Divide the mixture into the containers you are using to set the panna cotta. If you plan on removing the panna cotta from the container before serving, be sure to swipe the insides with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil (this will make it easier to unmold). Or, if you are lazy like me, serve it in a wine glass (efficient and classy (I mean the recipe)).
  7. Cover the tops with plastic wrap and let the panna cotta rest in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, or overnight.

Assemble and Serve

  1.  If you are unmolding your panna cotta, skip to the next step. Otherwise, divide the blueberry coulis evenly into each panna cotta container and serve to your eagerly waiting guests!
  2. If you are serving the panna cotta on a plate (not in the container), Pour some hot water into a shallow bowl. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the panna cotta dessert and dip the bottom of the container into water holding for a few seconds. Invert onto a plate. If the dessert does not fall out, repeat the hot water step and try again. Spoon the blueberry coulis on top for a beautiful look and serve!

NOTES

  • Knox gelatin can be purchased at your local grocery store (knox is the brand).
  • This panna cotta can also be made with other types of tea, or without the tea entirely. Simply follow the instructions with the omission of tea bags and steeping for a plain panna cotta base.
  • Always let your gelatin mixture come to cool before pouring it in the mold or else it may separate
  • I used frozen blueberries to make this recipe, fresh blueberries may take a bit longer to cook down and create juices but should yield the same result.
  • If you are choosing to use nutmeg in any recipe, one easy way to step it up is to use freshly grated nutmeg versus pre-grated nutmeg. It is SO much more potent and adds a little something extra without a lot of work.

Earl Grey Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote Recipe

Ten years ago, if you told me that I would be making my own delicious Blueberry Vanilla Jam for breakfast, I would have thought you were crazy. I had zero cooking experience and even less motivation to step into the kitchen. Just this past summer, I made 40 jars of this easy Blueberry Vanilla Jam recipe as favours for a friend’s baby shower and couldn’t be happier with the result!

Blueberry Vanilla Jam Recipe from www.Frances.Menu. Wonderful combination of flavours! Unique DIY gift idea.

This recipe is super easy and if I could, I would tell my past self to get off my lazy behind and follow it for some super impressive homemade jam. They are a wonderful compliment to scones, toast or tea-time biscuits. If you’re looking for a unique do-it-yourself gift idea, fill some 125ml Bernardin canning jars with this jam and hand them out!

Blueberry Vanilla Jam Recipe from www.Frances.Menu. Wonderful combination of flavours! Unique DIY gift idea.

In this recipe I use an ingredient called ‘vanilla bean paste’ which can be explained as a sweet liquid containing vanilla bean seeds. Since it is pre-bottled and available with the scoop of a spoon, it saves me the time and trouble of cutting open a vanilla pod and scraping out the seeds. The result is arguably identical as it still produces that wonderful flavour and speckled look in desserts and baked goods.

Another reason I use vanilla bean paste rather than vanilla pods because it is much cheaper, at least here in Canada. Generally, 1 tbsp of vanilla bean paste can substitute 1 vanilla bean pod, although this might be further clarified by the labeling on the jar. I use Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste from PC Black Label which is available at Loblaws.

I hope you enjoy this Blueberry Vanilla Jam recipe as much as I do and remember to share your results with me using #francesmenu on instagram, twitter and Facebook!

Blueberry Vanilla Jam

YIELD: approx. 1200 ml
ACTIVE TIME: 40 min
TOTAL TIME (active + inactive time): 1 hr 10 15 mins
CREDITS: Frances Lam
SUMMARY: This easy recipe combines the sweet taste of blueberries and the lovely flavour of vanilla beans to make a Blueberry Vanilla Jam! Fresh, homemade jam that can be canned and distributed as tasty gifts, spread on crackers, toast or scones!

INGREDIENTS

Blueberry Vanilla Jam

Tools

  • Large stockpot
  • Stirring utensil
  • Plate
  • Potato masher (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put a small plate in the freezer. In a large stockpot, mash the blueberries with a potato masher for 1-2 minutes. Add lemon juice and water to the blueberries and cook on high heat, bringing to a hard rolling boil for 1 minute (it takes about 5 – 10 minutes to get to the boil). Reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce to low heat, stir in the sugar and vanilla paste, then bring to a hard boil for 10 minutes.
  2. To test the jam, transfer a teaspoon onto the plate in the freezer and freeze for 3-4 minutes. Nudge your finger through the jam and if it wrinkles where your finger is pushing, it is ready. If you release your finger and the line refills quickly and the jam feels too watery, keep cooking and test at 5 minutes intervals until you get the desired consistency.

NOTES

  • In this recipe, I used blueberries that were very tarte. If your blueberries are very sweet, you need not add as much sugar. Add 80-85% of the sugar and do a taste test. Remember that you will be cooking down the jam after the taste test so it is okay if it is not as sweet. You can always add more sugar later.
  • Always test your jam cold which is the reason for placing a plate in the freezer. This will replicate the temperature which jam will be stored at so you can get an accurate idea of the jam consistency.
  • If you do not have a potato masher, skip the mashing step altogether, although you may need to cook the bluberries for longer (haven’t tried without mashing before).
  • Stirring the jam mixture while cooking allows for moisture to be released more frequently, therefore cutting down cooking time.
  • A full rolling boil means that the jam is bubbling vigorously at the surface and the bubbles are large (most likely your stove is on high heat). A low boil means that the jam still bubbles frequently, but the bubbles are smaller and the surface is not as disturbed (most likely your stove is on medium to high heat).
  • These are the canning instructions I used: beginner’s guide published on ‘Food in Jars’.

STORAGE

  • Keeps for 1 year unopened if canned. Best used within 2 months of opening, although I’ve had people tell me that they last way beyond 2 months after opening. (use your best judgement, jams can last pretty long because of the sugar and acid content).

Behind the Scenes:

Here’s some food for thought: When effort is put into the food styling, it cuts down time spent on photographing and post-editing. So even if it takes that extra 5 – 10 minutes to style your food, do it, because it may save you 40 minutes later on in the process. If you don’t know how, then research, look at other work and try out different styles to gain more experience. Try different ways to create contrast, repetition, emphasis and other principles of design in your styling. This is something I am constantly learning and it can be incredibly challenging.

For this shoot, a 60-in umbrella was placed to the back-left of the photography area and a white foam core board on the opposite side to reflect the light and fill in shadows. For the marble tabletop, 3 floor tiles were pushed next to each other, using the rough side of the tile to create a non-reflective surface. To make it look like one seamless table, I used photoshop to remove the lines in between each tile.

Food Photography - Basic Setup and Process. www.Frances.Menu

Reviewing the photos from this particular shoot, I learned two things. The first thing I learned was that a shallow depth of field can bring a sense of ‘a-pro-did-this’ feeling to the untrained eye. However, pushing it too far (making it too shallow) can make a photo look unplanned, unprofessional and distract from the focal point. The second thing I learned was that having extremely reflective copper items in the shoot can disturb the ‘natural window light’ style. The copper colour is much warmer to the neutral light temperature that was used and its warm colour had a far reach to the other items on the table. This made it seem as if light sources with different temperatures were being used, making it look messy at times. Please note that this is only undesirable in the ‘natural window light’ style that I was going for and maybe useful in other styles.

Food Photography - Basic Setup and Process. www.Frances.Menu

In hindsight, I should have probably done something to dull the reflective surface of the teapot to avoid the bright hotspots that compete with the focal point for attention. Vaseline maybe? If I used a dulling spray it probably wouldn’t be food safe to use afterwards. Will experiment further.

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