25 November 2007

Spicy Pumpkin Pots de Creme


This time of year when the skies darken early and temperatures suddenly plummet, it is a relief to come in from the cold at dusk.

But driving home from work in a warm car is not the same as walking home in the late autumn chill after a day of school.

In those days, the warmth would hit me like a surprise, even though I knew it waiting was on the other side of the back door. The Arts and Crafts bungalow of my childhood did not have a mudroom, so I entered the cheery kitchen from a back porch, flung my books down and lunged for whatever was on the table.

If my father was at home, it would be gingerbread or maple fudge. My mother preferred making chocolate or peanut butter cookies. No one ventured into more exotic sweets in those days. No pistachio-cranberry tea cakes or dark chocolate fudge with sea salt topping or lemon-lime muffins in tiny tins.

Truthfully, it did not matter what the after-school treat was, for it made the kitchen smell so good and provided a sugar high before supper, which was never as early as it was at my friends’ houses. Graham crackers with peanut butter were as welcome as from-scratch treats.

It was bloody cold here today. I had no intention of leaving the house in the afternoon as the weak sun sunk lower in the sky, having finally braved the crowds in the morning, much to my regret. Instead, I stayed inside and puttered, and by suppertime, my kitchen smelled of Spicy Pumpkin Pots de Crème, adapted from a recipe on the Website of the newly resurrected Victoria magazine.

This was the dessert I meant to make on Thanksgiving. My first taste of it – or something very much like it – was at a local restaurant six or eight weeks ago. I left vowing to try to replicate it.

Spicy Pumpkin Pots de Crème
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • one tablespoon grated chocolate
  • pinch fleur de sel grains
  • 10 egg yolks

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Using a whisk, blend milk, pumpkin, sugars, vanilla, chocolate, salt and spices in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Remove from heat just as mixture begins to boil. Set aside.

Separate eggs, and whisk yolks, forcing through a strainer and then adding to the saucepan gradually. When thoroughly blended, pour into six small pots de crème. Set pots de crème into a larger baking dish and add water. Water should reach about halfway up the sides of the pots.

Bake for 40 minutes, until firm. Chill before serving. I grabbed a chocolate morsel and grated it for topping.

I added the grated chocolate to the pumpkin mixture for the same reason I always add a bit of instant coffee and some cinnamon to hot chocolate: To provide richness. There are few dishes that are not enhanced by a bit of chocolate.

These pots de creme would make a lovely winter holiday dessert, but they are far too sweet and rich for frequent consumption.

16 comments:

Fiona said...

Very interesting. At first glance I thought this was a pumpkin soup, but reading through the ingredients, preparation etc. I figured it must be a dessert. It would be wonderful to taste !!! Hard to imagine though... as here in the antipodes pumkins are eaten as vegetables, we don't normally make sweet pies or desserts with them. I need to try this !!!

katiez said...

Chocolate can, indeed, improve almost everything! Last winter I discovered that it was the secret to Coq au Vin... that discovery led me to more and more experiments... Or just an excuse to buy more chocolate.
I'm having so much fun with my pumpkin this year...now I have one more yummy idea.
I would ask how long they keep - but that would just be a silly question!

Betty C. said...

This looks delicious! I made a pumpkin clafoutis for dessert for a semi-Thanksgiving dinner party yesterday, and it went over very well too.

Lydia said...

Not being much of a dessert person, I've never ventured beyond pumpkin pie. Now I see what I've been missing.

Mimi said...

I thought it looked like soup, too, and when I popped it in the oven, Fiona, it was very soupy.

I'm not sure how long they'll keep, Katie. There are only four left.

Betty, I think a will try a clafoutis this winter - maybe for New Years.

Lydia, believe it or not, I'm not much of a dessert person. A small piece of chocolate with tea or coffee is really all I need. But I like the idea of eating dessert.

Judy said...

How yummy do those look? WOW!!! It made me want to go right to the kitchen but since I still have pie from Thursday, I restrained myself. A definite "to do" next weekend though. Don't you just love the new Victoria? I've read mine twice already and I'm anxiously waiting for the next one. We are finally above freezing today and the sun is shining brightly.

Mimi said...

Same here, Judy! We've got sun and blue skies so the golden weather is back. Yes, I do like Victoria Magazine, especially the issues on France from years ago. I hope the new magazine does well.

breadchick said...

What a great idea for a fall and holiday dessert! With each passing week, I begin to long more and more for the house of my childhood and the treat filled extra fridge that our sun porch would become during those cold Northern Michigan falls and winters.

rebekka said...

Oh my GOSH those look amazing. P.S. I love your blog. I think we're kindred spirits.

xo
Rebekka

Mimi said...

Breadchick, for us it was the back porch, and later the back entryway. I now hsve four back doors, but only one has a cold entryway...

Rebekka, I took a peak at your blog - fascinating!

Kristen said...

Another oh my...
Mimi - what are you doing to me? My must try list from your site is getting to be way too long :)

Mimi said...

Oh, Kristen, you should see my list - good thing I do not have much time.

Julie said...

I love the idea of pumpkin pots de creme and I would say, as rich desserts go, this one doesn't seem too over the top. There's no heavy cream or butter, a modest amount of sugar for a dessert, and egg yolks and pumpkin are full of good things. Seems positively healthy to me!

Mimi said...

Really, you ar right, Julie, it's not that bad. The original recipe calls for heavy cream, though!

Megan said...

I love pumpkin! This is bookmarked for a special occasion, like Wendesday. :)

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Good for you, Megan! Wednesdays ARE special - hump day!