I put a lot of love into this week’s video because Thanksgiving is such a special time of year. A time to savour delicious food with our loved ones. And a time to celebrate and give thanks for what the earth gives us. So consider this video my way of wishing you a very joyful and festive season, from my table, to yours. And in case you’re wondering how I staged such a festive dinner in the video, I’ll fill you in on the secret. We Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving back in October so I took the opportunity to film our feast and share our most precious moments with you, along with the preparation of this week’s roasted squash crème brûlée.
For me, roasted squash perfectly embodies the warmth and taste of Thanksgiving. And when you’re living on a farm, squash are usually so plentiful (to put it mildly) at this time of year. I’m especially a fan of baby squash, in all their shapes, colours, and sizes. So this festive dessert celebrates those little baby squash, halved, hollowed, filled to the brim with rich and creamy crème brûlée, and topped with its signature crunchy burnt sugar topping. As the crème brûlée bakes, so does the squash half and some people like to eat the baked squash flesh after they have finished the crème brûlée. I myself prefer to leave it but I always make sure to scoop it out and save it for soup.
You can use any squash you like for the hollowed squash halves. Round-shaped squash work best but whatever you can find in your garden or at your local farmer’s market will do the trick. The squashes should be about 4 inches in diameter. As for the crème brûlée filling itself, you’ll need a little bit of purée from a squash that has a creamy texture and a sweet taste. I often use buttercup squash but you could also use butternut, delicata, or dumpling squash. Pumpkin also works nicely if you’re going for a pumpkin pie flavour (then you can call it Pumpkin Pie Crème Brûlée!)
If you don’t have a chef’s torch to burn the sugar, the broiler in your oven will do the trick. Just be sure to keep an eye on it because the sugar will caramelize and burn in no time.
May you all have a most wonderful Thanksgiving season, with your loved ones by your side.
Roasted Squash Crème Brûlée
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (optional)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup roasted squash purée
- 4 to 5 baby squashes, each about 4 inches in diameter and round in shape
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- Cut the baby squash in half and scoop out all the seeds and a little bit of the flesh to form a clean bowl-like shape. Cut a slice off the outer rounded edge so that the squash half can securely sit cut-side up without wobbling. Place the squash halves on a large baking sheet.
- Beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until pale yellow and sugar has dissolved.
- Combine the cream and spices in a saucepan and heat on medium until just before it begins to bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and squash purée. Then whisk in the egg yolk mixture, whisking until smooth.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into the prepared squash halves.
- Bake in a 350 oven for 30 to 45 minutes. They are ready when the custard is set and has no liquidy spot when jiggled lightly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- When you are ready to serve your dessert, pulse the 3 tbsp of sugar in a coffee grinder for a few seconds to obtain a superfine powdery sugar. This helps with the caramelization.
- Using your fingers, sprinkle about a teaspoon of sugar on top of each custard. Using a small butane torch, hover a flame over the sugar, moving it around until the sugar caramelizes and begins to burn in spots. If you don't have a torch, place the crème brûlées under your broiler set to high heat. Carefully check them every 30 seconds or so because the caramelizing will happen very quickly. This method makes it a bit harder to control the caramelization, but they are ready when the sugar is melted and there are some flecks of burnt sugar across the top. Serve right away.
Yield: 8 servings
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category.