Why Crème Brûlée Pumpkin Pie Is Our Favorite
This is almost straight-up pumpkin pie; as much as I like this famous dessert, I find a little crunch is essential, so I like to serve mine brûléed. While my children look terrified at the thought of anything other than whipped cream topping their slices, I find most guests enjoy the added layer.
But, not to worry! If you just want your pie the old-fashioned way, you can omit the crème brûlée topping and serve with whipped cream.
Something To Know
This is a recipe from my new book, Baking for the Holidays. I have gotten quite a few DMs and emails about it – there is a typo in the recipe, and I just want to clear up confusion you may be having, and give you the corrected recipe!
In the ingredient list, it calls for the pie crust to be fully baked, but in the directions it says partially baked. It should be FULLY baked (I find this helps the bottom crust stay nice and crisp when the pumpkin pie filling is added). If you are worried about the exposed crust getting too dark, you can cover the crust around the edges with aluminum foil or a pie shield.
Also, the note about substituting whole milk for creme fraiche was put in the headnote, but I changed the base of the pumpkin pie during recipe testing/edits and it looks like that line was missed! So that sentence should be ignored.
I am so sorry about these mistakes! Even though the book was edited a crazy number of times by myself and several other people, I have come to accept it is impossible to catch every last thing. “To err is human, to forgive divine,” Alexander Pope wrote in the 1700’s; hopefully his words still hold today.
More Pie Recipes:
Crème Brûlée Pumpkin Pie
- 8 tablespoons [1 stick or 113 g] unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 1/2 cups [213 g] all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup [240 g] ice water
- 3 tablespoons [45 g] unsalted butter
- One 15 ounce [425 g] can unsweetened pumpkin purée
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- Pinch cloves
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap rum optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- One 14 ounce [396 g] can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks at room temperature
- ½ cup [120 g] heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice, optional
- 2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Whipped Cream for serving
For the Pie Crust
- Place the butter pieces in a small bowl and transfer it to the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined. Add half of the chilled butter and mix on low speed until the butter is just starting to break down, about 1 minute. Add the rest of the butter and continue mixing until the butter is broken down in various sizes (some butter will be incorporated into the dough, some pieces will be a bit large, but most should be about the size of small peas).
- Stop the mixer and use your hands to check for any dry patches of flour on the bottom of the bowl; incorporate the flour as best you can. With the mixer running on low speed, start by slowly adding about 1/4 cup [60 g] of the ice water and mix until the dough starts to come together but is still quite shaggy (if the dough is not coming together, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does, up to 1 cup [240 g]). Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and flatten it slightly into a square. Gather any loose/dry pieces that won’t stick to the dough and place them on top of the square.
- Gently fold the dough over onto itself and then flatten into a square again. Repeat this process three or four more times until all the loose pieces are worked into the dough, being careful not to overwork the dough. Flatten the dough one last time, form it into one 6 in [15 cm] disk and wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes (and up to 2 days) before using.
- Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 12 in [30.5 cm] circle. Gently fold the dough in quarters and transfer it into a 9 in [23 cm] pie plate. Unfold the dough, letting the excess dough drape over the edges of the plate.
- Gently press the dough into the bottom and trim the overhang to 1 in [2.5 cm] past the lip. Tuck the overhanging dough so the folded edge lies on the edge of the plate. Crimp the edge of the dough with your fingers and place the pie plate in the freezer until the dough is firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 400ºF [200ºC].
- Place a sheet pan on the oven rack (the preheated pan helps crisp the bottom of the pie crust). Remove the pie plate from the freezer and line the pie shell with parchment paper, covering the edges to prevent burning. Fill the center with pie weights.
- FULLY BAKED CRUST: Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and no longer wet. Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack and carefully remove the pie weights and parchment paper. Return the pie plate to the oven and continue to bake for 8 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack. Finish the pie as directed in the recipe.
For the pumpkin pie filling
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C]. In a large heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, brown the butter until golden. Off the heat, add the pumpkin purée, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Put the pan back over medium heat and bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer; this will take 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes total.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the blackstrap rum, if using, and the vanilla. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk, mixing until smooth and combined. Add the eggs, yolks, and heavy cream and whisk until fully incorporated. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl, using a spatula to press the solids through the sieve. Re-whisk the liquid and taste the filling. If the flavor seems dull, add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice and whisk to combine. Taste again, adding more lemon juice, if needed (just a tiny bit at a time), until the desired flavor is reached. Transfer the filling to the warm, fully baked pie shell.
- Set the pie plate on a sheet pan and transfer it to the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to 300°F [150°C] and continue baking until the edges of the pie are puffed and the center jiggles slightly if shaken, 30 to 45 minutes longer.
- Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, 4 to 6 hours (it can also be refrigerated for several hours before serving).
- Just before serving, sprinkle a generous amount of granulated sugar over the entire surface of the pie. Use a kitchen torch to brûlée the top until the sugar is melted and has turned dark brown (you can also slice the pie and then torch the top, for less messy slicing). Serve the pie immediately with whipped cream, if desired.