Pumpkin Pots de Crème Replace Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving Desert!

Like most cooks, I always include a pumpkin dessert at our family’s Thanksgiving celebration, but often it’s not a traditional pumpkin pie. In years past, I’ve prepared frozen pumpkin mousse parfaits, whipped cream-filled pumpkin roulade, pumpkin brownies, and dense pumpkin spice cake as finales for this holiday meal. This year, though, I’ve decided on pumpkin pots de crème with a pecan toffee crunch topping, a recipe I created more than a decade ago.

These pots de crème take only a few minutes to assemble, and about 40 minutes of unattended time in the oven. A simple custard mixture made with purchased pumpkin puree, aromatic spices, and a good splash of bourbon, is ladled into individual ramekins, which are placed in a water bath to bake until set.

The garnishes, however, truly distinguish this dessert. Chopped toasted pecans combined with toffee bits are sprinkled over the silky, smooth custards while warm. Then they are chilled and topped with dollops of whipped cream.

Beside their delicious pumpkin taste, these pots de crème have several other advantages for cooks. They can be prepared two days ahead and kept refrigerated until needed. (You’ll just need to top each one with whipped cream at the last minute.) Plus, a single recipe yields twelve servings, enough for a crowd. So, keep these scrumptious creations in mind when you plan your menu for November 22th.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


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Pumpkin Pots de Crème with Toffee Pecan Crunch

2 cups heavy or whipping cream, divided
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (Do not buy pumpkin puree seasoned with spices.)
3 /4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
8 large egg yolks
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (See note.)
1/4 cup English toffee bits (See note.)

1. Arrange a rack at center and at lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready twelve 1/2 -cup ramekins and two large baking pans. (9- by 13-inch pyrex dishes work well.)

2. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups cream, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat, and stir until lukewarm.

3. Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed to blend. Gradually beat in sugar until mixture thickens and is lighter in color, 2 to 3 minutes or longer. Reduce speed and add pumpkin mixture and bourbon; beat until just blended.

4. Transfer custard mixture to a large measuring cup with a spout, and pour into the ramekins. Place half the ramekins in each of the baking pans. Pour enough hot water in the baking pans to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake custards until a tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

5. Mix together the pecans and toffee bits in a small bowl. When custards are done, remove them from the oven, and while still in the baking pans, sprinkle the center of each custard with some of the pecan/toffee mixture.

6. Carefully with pot holders, transfer ramekins to cooling racks, and cool an hour. Cover custards with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, 2 to 3 hours or overnight. (Custards can be prepared 2 days ahead; keep refrigerated. Bring to room temperature 15 to 30 minutes before serving.)

7. To serve, whip remaining 1/2 cup cream and garnish each serving with a generous dollop. Serves 12.

Note: To toast pecans, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on center shelf until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and transfer nuts to a work surface to cool.

Note: Heath Bits o’ Brickle Toffee Bits” work well in this recipe. They are available in many supermarkets.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2018

4 thoughts on “Pumpkin Pots de Crème Replace Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving Desert!

    • If you don’t have 12 ramekins you can use custard cups. The store where I teach (The Baker’s Pin in Northampton, Ma) has a good supply of ramekins in all sizes and they are quite inexpensive. You can use them to serve small servings of soup and for nuts and olives for appetizers. Hope this helps. Betty

  1. Hi Betty from Columbus Ohio! I’ve been following you a few years now and have purchased a few of your cookbooks. I will say right now your “easy brown butter almond cake” is hands down my forever go to cake. I also share your love for France. A few of my clients did your classes in France years ago! Another one of my clients (80) has a whole portfolio of your Columbus Dispatch weekly entries. She is trying to find it and give to me! I’m so excited. We celebrated Thanksgiving early and I made the pumpkin pots of creme… no more pumpkin pie for our family. The best sooo good!!! I was wondering what about something similar for Christmas Holiday. I usually make creme brulee. Any other suggestions for something new? Thank you, I am so happy to find you. Bon Appetit!

    • Thank you so much, Mary, for such a nice note. Nothing makes my day more than knowing that readers are enjoying my recipes. I love that simple brown butter cake too. And, I’m glad you liked the pumpkin pots de crème. An easy recipe for Christmas is the dark chocolate caramel cake


      from my blog in 2017 (I think).Link is above. Also, if you have Soup Nights the chocolate chestnut pots de crème are as uncomplicated to make as the
      pumpkin ones. Hope this helps. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Betty

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