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I love pumpkin. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, and even pumpkin beef stew. Once a year is never enough pumpkin pie for me, so I make it in July, too. My husband also has a thing for pumpkins. One year, he grew this in the side yard. We couldn’t eat it, of course. It was chock full of pesticides. In fact, I probably shouldn’t have let the kids get that close, but…they seem fine.
Sean picked up his spoon and cracked the sugar shell on top of his dessert. Mmm, pumpkin, as spicy and comforting as Thanksgiving memories. He sighed as other flavors teased his palate. Almond? Yes, and something more elusive and unexpected, like the lavender last night.
He looked up to see Olivia watching him. “Luscious,” he said, taking another bite. She smiled around her spoon and he couldn’t take his eyes off her mouth. He had completely lost interest in the opera tonight. Their kiss in the kitchen had made him want to toss her over his shoulder and carry her upstairs for a private performance instead.
Somehow, my characters always end up seducing each other with food. Since I’ll do just about anything as long as my husband keeps the coffee, little sandwiches, and snacks coming, I guess it’s art imitating life. HA! In my new book SEDUCING THE PLAYBOY (January 2014 Entangled Publishing) Jenna flies out to California to get the hero to hire her…and to seduce him, naturally. He resists, so she turns to food.
From SEDUCING THE PLAYBOY (unedited excerpt):
She needed this job and not only because she’d spent a half-dozen years pining for Roman Gallagher.
She forced herself to keep her smile sweet, her gaze innocent. Clearly, he still thought of her as Cole’s little sister. Overt seduction wasn’t going to get her a place in his kitchen, but she had other skills. Didn’t they say the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach? She was willing to start there.
Please don’t hold me responsible for what happens after Thanksgiving Dinner if you make this PUMPKIN CREME BRULEE (or the oatmeal cream pie cupcakes which I’ll be posting on my blog during release week for SEDUCING THE PLAYBOY).
If you don’t have a propane torch at home, this custard is also great sprinkled with granola or sugared almonds.
Makes 12 four-ounce brulees
24 ounces heavy cream
12 ounces pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
a good pinch of salt
5 star anise
4 yolks (you can use the whites to make macaroon cookies!)
4 ounces of Amaretto
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat oven to 325. Find 12 ramekins or shallow bake-proof molds. Find a pan with sides. It must be large enough to hold the ramekins so you can make a water bath.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk heavy cream, pumpkin, half of the sugar and the salt.
- Add the star anise and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit at least 15 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, yolks and the rest of the sugar.
- Temper the hot mixture into the egg mixture by adding a cup of so of hot liquid to the bowl and whisking. Add remaining hot mixture to bowl. Whisk in Amaretto and almond extract.
- Strain into a pitcher or something easy to pour out of. Or strain it into anything and use a ladle to dip the mixture into the ramekins
- Put ramekins into the high-sided pan. Fill ramekins with pumpkin brulee mixture. Put pan into oven. Then pour water into the pan so that it comes halfway up the outside of the ramekins. Bake until set. You will know the custards are done when you give the ramekin a gentle poke and the custard jiggles back and forth. You will know the custards are NOT done if you give the ramekin a gentle poke and the custard jiggles in concentric circles, as if a stone has been dropped in a puddle. Baking will take 30-45 minutes, but (as I always tell my students) bake until done, not until the recipe says stop. (Yes, they roll their eyes, too.)
- When the custards are done baking, let them cool slightly. Then remove them from the water bath and let them cool the rest of the way. Put them in the fridge overnight to chill completely.
- To brulee them, sprinkle an even 1/8 inch layer of sugar over the top and use a propane torch to melt the sugar. Add more sugar and torch again, if needed. Be careful not to hold the torch on one section of the custard too long or you will scramble it. Also – do not get any hot sugar on your hand! HOT! HOT! HOT!
- Alternately, toss some sliced raw almonds with a little egg white and sugar and bake until toasty brown. Put that on top of the custard to add some delightful texture. Or put granola or streusel on top. Mmmmm…pumpkin!
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Hoppy Holidays! (Nope, couldn’t resist!)